Ancient Monuments

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Sharlston Common coal and ironstone workings

A Scheduled Monument in Sharlston, Wakefield

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Latitude: 53.6685 / 53°40'6"N

Longitude: -1.4053 / 1°24'18"W

OS Eastings: 439391.110725

OS Northings: 419277.467499

OS Grid: SE393192

Mapcode National: GBR LVM0.KP

Mapcode Global: WHDCC.D12Z

Entry Name: Sharlston Common coal and ironstone workings

Scheduled Date: 24 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018399

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30962

County: Wakefield

Civil Parish: Sharlston

Built-Up Area: Sharlston

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Sharlston St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


Sharlston Common lies immediately south east of the village of Sharlston. The
monument includes all the earthworks, built and buried remains of the
Sharlston Common mines. It incorporates many pits and other earthworks
associated with coal and ironstone mining over a long period; and documentary
evidence confirms that the area was mined from the medieval period to the 17th
The monument is characterised by concentrations of shaft mounds and hillocks
representing the remains of bellpits. These are early mining features: a
vertical shaft was cut to the coal seam, which was worked out in all
directions until the threat of collapse or other difficulties made further
progress impractical. This gave the pits a bell-shaped profile. For optimum
exploitation of the coal (or ironstone), pits were invariably sunk in
clusters, resulting in intensive concentrations of earthworks. This
distribution is clearly visible at Sharlston Common. Particularly notable
concentrations of shaft mounds are seen in the east of the area, and along a
shallow ridge in the north.
Other earthworks include spoilheaps, hillocks and low retaining banks, which
are seen most clearly in the south east of the site.
Excluded from the scheduling are the surfaces of modern footpaths, tracks
and boundaries, although the ground beneath these is included. A reservoir in
the south eastern part of the site, which is thought to date from the
19th century and to have no association with the mining remains, is
totally excluded from the scheduling.

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 Sharlston Common coal and ironstone workings represent the survival of an
early mining area for which documentary evidence survives. It will therefore
be possible to combine documentary and archaeological evidence in the fullest
possible interpretation of these once typical mining features. Details of the
developing technology and organisation of the mines will be available; this
information will add to an understanding of the mines, and of the context in
which they operated. Further technological data will be provided by
underground remains.
Additionally, the location of the workings on common land highlights their
role in the history of the local community.

Source: Historic England


W Yorks Ref PRN 3831, Sharlston Common, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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