Ancient Monuments

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Coal mining remains in Mallygill Wood

A Scheduled Monument in West Rainton, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.808 / 54°48'28"N

Longitude: -1.5199 / 1°31'11"W

OS Eastings: 430953.048769

OS Northings: 546005.334078

OS Grid: NZ309460

Mapcode National: GBR KDTV.Q8

Mapcode Global: WHC4K.MDFZ

Entry Name: Coal mining remains in Mallygill Wood

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018232

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30933

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: West Rainton

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: West Rainton

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument is situated within Mallygill Wood on the east side of the A1(M),
1km south west of West Rainton, and includes the earthworks and buried remains
of 19th century and earlier coal mining.
Coal mining is recorded at nearby Rainton in the 15th and 16th centuries, and
it is thought that the remains within Mallygill Wood relate to that period of
mining activity. The mines had been abandoned long before 1861 since by this
date the Ordnance Survey maps show an established woodland on the site. Mining
was resumed, however, in the later 19th century when a deep mine, known as
Woodside Colliery, was sunk towards the north east corner of the wood. This
was abandoned by 1896.
The mining remains include at least 76 shaft mounds, including Woodside
Colliery, remains of a drift mine, and evidence of opencast extraction
directly on the coal outcrop. The greatest concentration of workings lie in
the central and western part of the monument where the coal seams are situated
close to the surface. Here, valuable evidence of mining activities, such as
features relating to sinking and haulage, will survive as buried deposits at
the shaft heads. The shaft mounds, 28 of which are now waterlogged, generally
survive as inverted cones measuring from 3m to 12m in diameter by up to 2m in
depth. Many are surrounded by a spoil collar surviving up to 1m in height. A
series of trenches running north to south on either side of the Mally Gill are
thought to be the remains of opencast working on the coal outcrop and are also
thought to represent one of the early forms of coal extraction at the site.
The monument also includes the earthwork remains of a small drift mine driven
north eastward into the north side of the ravine of the Mally Gill, as well as
other shallow depressions thought to be associated with mining activities. The
site of the Woodside Colliery has been cleared, though evidence such as
features relating to winding and sinking, will survive as buried deposits at
the shaft head.
All modern fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000
coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war
nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four
coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national
archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of
national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a
comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the
industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.
Extensive coal workings are typical of the medieval and post-medieval coal
industry, although this style of exploitation continued into the early 20th
century in some marginal areas which were worked on a very small scale with
little capital investment. In its simplest form extensive workings took coal
directly from the outcrop, digging closely spaced shallow pits, shafts or
levels which did not connect underground. Once shallower deposits had been
exhausted, deeper shafts giving access to underground interconnecting
galleries were developed. The difficulties of underground haulage and the need
for ventilation encouraged the sinking of an extensive spread of shafts in the
area worked. The remains of extensive coal workings typically survive as
surface earthworks directly above underground workings. They may include a
range of prospecting and exploitation features, including areas of
outcropping, adits and shaft mounds (circular or sub-circular spoil heaps
normally with a directly associated depression marking the shaft location). In
addition, some sites retain associated features such as gin circles (the
circular track used by a horse powering simple winding or pumping machinery),
trackways and other structures like huts. Some later sites also retain
evidence of the use of steam power, typically in the form of engine beds or
small reservoirs. Extensive coal mines vary considerably in form, depending on
the underlying geology, their date, and how the workings were originally
organised. Sites can include several hundred shafts spread over an extensive
Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this
has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England
to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and
characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north
Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the
better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and
technological range of extensive coal workings, together with rare individual
component features are considered to merit protection.

The coal remains within Mallygill Wood survive well and represent a remarkable
concentration of surface features, ranging from simple shaft mounds through to
a late 19th century colliery. They provide evidence for both the historical
and technological developments of mining in this area and provide a rare and
valuable opportunity to study relatively unsophisticated mining technology of
a type once common in the North East Coalfield, but now rare due to
agricultural reclamation. The remains, which are typical of the medieval and
early post-medieval periods, contrast sharply with the capital intensive
nucleated deep mines which characterised the later development of the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Blood, K, Mallygill Wood Coal Workings, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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