Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Coal mining remains 600m south west of Smoile Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Worthington, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.7679 / 52°46'4"N

Longitude: -1.4145 / 1°24'52"W

OS Eastings: 439603.161094

OS Northings: 319087.024822

OS Grid: SK396190

Mapcode National: GBR 6GW.H6Z

Mapcode Global: WHDHM.7PPD

Entry Name: Coal mining remains 600m south west of Smoile Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018463

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31755

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Worthington

Built-Up Area: Newbold

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Worthington St Matthew

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument lies in woodland, around 1.5km north west of Coleorton. It
includes the earthworks and buried remains of coal mining in an area which
forms part of the Coleorton mining landscape.

Early coal mining remains exposed in nearby areas during opencasting include
unprecedented finds of artefacts, tools, textiles and dating evidence from the
15th-18th centuries. The site itself contains equally valuable information
about mining technology, particularly relating to mining in the 18th century
and including the remains of mines which employed horse power for winding and
drainage of coal workings.

Visible remains include well-preserved shaft mounds, 1.5m-2m high and up to
12m wide, with evidence of gin circles (platforms on which horses walked
around to power drainage and winding apparatus). The shafts are dispersed
throughout the site, with larger ones particularly evident in the east. Buried
remains will provide information about pithead equipment such as winding gear,
whilst undisturbed underground workings will preserve details of the
extraction, ventilation and transport technology employed at the site. In the
south east of the monument the shaft mounds overlie medieval cultivation
remains (shallow rig-and-furrow ploughing marks). This area therefore retains
evidence for the impact that coal mining in this area had on agricultural
activities. Some 500m south west of the monument are further coal mining
remains which form part of the Coleorton area of early mining and are the
subject of a separate scheduling.

All modern fences, roads and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them 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 mining remains 600m south west of Smoile Farm survive well. Earthwork
remains provide evidence for both the historical and technological
developments of a much more extensive area. The area immediately surrounding
each shaft will retain buried features such as the post holes and timber
supports for winding gear, which will contribute to an understanding of how
the shafts were worked.

The monument's significance is further enhanced by its proximity to additional
coal workings at Birch Coppice, Rough Park and The Conery, where different
periods of mining activity are represented in the archaeological remains. In
association with these medieval coal mining remains, and its relationship with
medieval agricultural remains, the archaeological features in this monument
form a vital component of a historic mining area which preserves coal mining
remains of varied date and type.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Chapman, N, 'Annual Journal' in Clee Hills Colliery near Ludlow, , Vol. 3, (1995), 61-66
Griffin, Colin P , 'Industrial Archaeology Review' in Technological change in the Leics & S Derbys coalfield

Source: Historic England

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