Ancient Monuments

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Coal mining remains immediately north east of Horseditch House on Clee Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Bitterley, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.3932 / 52°23'35"N

Longitude: -2.5938 / 2°35'37"W

OS Eastings: 359691.413231

OS Northings: 277409.128364

OS Grid: SO596774

Mapcode National: GBR BR.Q656

Mapcode Global: VH846.034P

Entry Name: Coal mining remains immediately north east of Horseditch House on Clee Hill

Scheduled Date: 1 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018471

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31763

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Bitterley

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Bitterley with Middleton

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument lies on high ground approximately 1.5km north of Cleehill
village. It includes earthworks and buried remains of coal mining, which was
practised from an early date in the Clee Hill area.
Coal mining was taking place on Clee Hill by 1260, and there is documentary
evidence relating specifically to Horseditch in the 16th century. It is almost
certain, however, that Horseditch had been mined before the 16th century as
the easily accessible outcroppings of the coal measures, such as those at
Horseditch, were amongst the earliest areas to be mined. At first coal could
simply be gathered, then later cut from surface outcrops. More typical was the
development, well illustrated within the monument, from deepening opencuts to
closely-spaced pits. A short vertical shaft was sunk to the coal seam, and
workings extended along the seam in all directions until the roof was in
danger of collapse. To optimise coal extraction these pits were typically sunk
very close together and in large numbers; when one pit was no longer safe,
another would be cut very close to it and its spoil tipped in and around the
The distinctive earthworks of these early coal workings are undisturbed and
clearly visible at the Horseditch site; in particular, there is a large
concentration of shaft mounds. Most visible in the eastern two thirds of the
site, these are collars of spoil thrown up around the shaft, typically less
high and up to 5m in diameter, with a central hollow indicating the location
of the shaft. The earthworks and buried remains of these workings will
preserve valuable information about the technology of early coal mining,
including details of transport around and from the mines. In many cases the
shafts are heavily waterlogged, suggesting that underground remains will be
well-preserved. The density of shafts and spoilheaps is typical of intensive
medieval working methods.
In the south western part of the site are numerous weathered hollows, around
1m deep, with associated mounds and ridges of spoil up to 2m high. Some are
low shaft mounds, but others are believed to be the remains of opencuts dating
to the earliest period of coal mining at the site. These low, worn earthworks
are believed to represent the first and simplest excavations for coal, which
were followed by a gradual expansion of deeper and slightly more sophisticated
workings in an easterly direction across the site. These south western mounds
will therefore include details of early coal mining technology, preserved
beneath the spoil of later workings. Further coal mining remains are visible
to the south east and east of the monument and these are the subject of
separate schedulings.
Modern fences, gates, walls 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 Horseditch represent the unusual survival of
undisturbed early mining, and represent a remarkable and well-defined
concentration of coal workings.
The coal mining remains north east of Horseditch House preserve valuable
technological data and waterlogging suggests that any organic remains will be
well-preserved. The mining remains will therefore enhance our understanding of
the earliest phases in this industry. Its earthwork remains, and buried
deposits in the area immediately surrounding each shaft, provide information
for both the historical and technological development of coal mining in this
area, and for the operation of the individual shafts.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Chapman, N, 'Annual Journal' in Clee Hills Colliery near Ludlow, , Vol. 3, (1995), 61-66
RCHME, , 'Annual Review 1983-4' in Surveys of Industrial Landscapes: Clee Hill, Shropshire..., (1984), 18-21
Fieldwork notes, Instone, Eric , Clee Hill, (1994)
RCHME, RCHM Study of the Clee Hill area, (1983)
Title: Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 6" Map
Source Date: 1903
6" scale
Various mining features on Clee Hill, South Shropshire SMR, 07112-07122, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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