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Coal mining remains at Cornbrook on Clee Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Coreley, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.3829 / 52°22'58"N

Longitude: -2.5766 / 2°34'35"W

OS Eastings: 360848.025371

OS Northings: 276247.96966

OS Grid: SO608762

Mapcode National: GBR BR.QY3T

Mapcode Global: VH846.9C6N

Entry Name: Coal mining remains at Cornbrook on Clee Hill

Scheduled Date: 1 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018470

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31762

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Coreley

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Doddington

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument lies 1.7km north east of Cleehill village, on some of the highest
ground in Shropshire. It includes a number of earthworks and buried remains
associated with an area of coal mining which was worked from at least 1260
until the 20th century. The varied earthworks include shallow pits typical of
early manual extraction, gin circles for horse-powered winding gear, and large
steam-powered shaft workings. There are also numerous trackways, tramways and
very large spoil tips showing fingertip formations. The remains show complex
relationships, with early workings overlain or extended by later ones, and
evidence of simpler technologies being superseded by later mechanisation.
In 1260-63, a license was granted to `dig coles within the forest of La Clie'.
At this time coal was won from outcrops, by adits, or by the sinking of small
pits. In the 19th century, most of the mineral rights in the Cornbrook area
were bought by the Lewis and Botsfield families, who introduced steam power
and a system of drainage cuts to allow the working of deeper seams. By the
1840s Clee Hill's miners were approximately 250 in number and produced around
25,000 tons of coal per annum. The Lewis and Botsfield holdings passed to
smaller companies; coal seams were worked out and were largely abandoned at
the end of the 19th century, although the Cornbrook colliery or Barn Pit
continued in use until 1927. The north eastern part of the site retains
evidence for a large concentration of the remains of low-mechanisation mining,
with a great number of spoil heaps typically 1m high and 3m-4m long. Some
workings have associated gin circles (flat platforms on which horses were
driven to power winding machinery). Shallow pits in this area represent hand-
cutting from exposed coal and ironstone outcrops. Preserved working faces will
retain valuable technological data about early mining.
To optimise coal extraction pits were closely spaced, and in many cases the
early workings are partly covered by later spoil, showing that seams were
reworked as technology allowed deeper mining. Other parts of the site are
dominated by the remains of larger-scale extraction, including large shaft
mounds and spoil heaps rising to a height of around 12m and width of up to
110m. Some of these features are associated with known 19th century mines such
as Jewstone Pit, Barn Pit and Rhin Pit. In some cases the spoilheaps
themselves are cut by deep shafts from which coal was removed along trackways
and later tramways, which survive as an extensive network of broad grassy
tracks (around 2m wide and sometimes marked by shallow banks of spoil at the
edges) leading from the coalfield to Cleehill village to the south west.
Deeper workings required drainage tunnels, several of which were cut within
the area, and it is likely that some shaft mounds are remnants of ventilation
shafts supplying air to workers cutting these tunnels. In at least one case a
drainage tunnel fed into a reservoir holding water for a steam engine or
underground wheel, and the reservoir survives as a roughly rectangular
earthwork. Further water channels or leats to direct surface water away from
the workings will provide evidence for water management on Clee Hill.
Further coal mining remains to the north west and north east of the site are
the subject of separate schedulings.
Modern fences, walls, gates 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 at Cornbrook on Clee Hill survive undisturbed and
in good condition, offering a rare concentration of complex mining earthworks
and other associated remains, such as drainage channels, reservoirs and

These remains preserve valuable information about the developing technology of
the coal mining industry, from its early low-mechanisation stages through to
later 19th century steam-powered workings. The shaft mound features are
considered to be some of the best in the country and cover a wide
chronological range. Buried features, particularly the remains of winding
gear, will survive in the vicinity of the shafts, providing information on the
sequence of technologies used at such mines.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
RCHME, , 'Annual Review 1983-4' in Surveys of Industrial Landscapes: Clee Hill, Shropshire..., (1984)
Goodman, Map, c1769, accompanying Goodman's thesis, 1769, Further details unknown
RCHME, RCHM Study of the Clee Hill area, (1983)
Title: Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 6" Map
Source Date: 1903
6" scale

Source: Historic England

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