Ancient Monuments

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Lime kilns at The Dell, off Wragby Road

A Scheduled Monument in Abbey, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.236 / 53°14'9"N

Longitude: -0.5279 / 0°31'40"W

OS Eastings: 498351.786457

OS Northings: 372003.504949

OS Grid: SK983720

Mapcode National: GBR FMQ.5CQ

Mapcode Global: WHGHZ.VXTM

Entry Name: Lime kilns at The Dell, off Wragby Road

Scheduled Date: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021082

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22776

County: Lincolnshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Abbey

Built-Up Area: Lincoln

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Lincoln St Peter-in-Eastgate with St Margaret in the close

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes a pair of lime kilns at The Dell, a former quarry
situated approximately 0.5m north east of Lincoln Cathedral. Documentary
sources of the mid-19th century refer to Nelthorpe's Quarry, owned by William
Tweed Nelthorpe, lime burner. By 1877, however, both the quarry and the
lime kilns had become disused. In the 1890s a house called The Dell was built
on the eastern edge of the earlier quarry, the lime kilns were infilled and
the bank within which they stood landscaped as part of the associated garden.
The lime kilns were partly exposed at the end of the 20th century but still
remain largely buried.

The lime kilns take the form of a block of two draw kilns, aligned
approximately north-south, built into the bank which marks the western edge of
the quarry. A narrow passageway flanked by walls of roughly dressed limestone
leads from the floor of the former quarry to a tall brick-arched opening,
about 1.4m wide, set into the side of the bank. This archway opens into the
central lobby, 1.6m in width, which gave access to both kilns. The rear wall
of the lobby is constructed of limestone and tapers upwards to a brick-vaulted
roof. In the south wall, which is constructed of brick, a smalled arched
opening about 0.75m high and 0.5m wide represents a draw-hole through which
the southern kiln was lit, and ash and lime subsequently removed. In the north
wall, which is constructed of coursed limestone and brick, a larger opening
about 1.2m wide and 2m high provided access to a draw-hole in the northern
kiln. The firing chambers (pots) of the kilns, now infilled, are believed to
be about 5m in diameter and will survive to a height of at least 6m, buried
within the bank. Roughly dressed limestone blocks on the side and top of the
bank indicate the location of the buried pots. The pots would have been
filled from the top of the bank through open tops, in alternating layers of
fuel and limestone, providing a continuous feed lasting up to a few weeks for
each firing.

The fence at the western edge of the monument is not included in the
scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Limestone or chalk has been the basic ingredient for lime mortar from at
least Roman times. Since the medieval period, lime has also been used as
agricultural fertiliser and, since the early 19th century, widely used in
a variety of other industries: as a flux in blast furnaces, in the
production of gas and oil, and in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food
The lime industry is defined as the processes of preparing and producing
lime by burning and slaking. The basic raw material for producing lime is
limestone or chalk: when burnt at high temperature (roasted or calcined),
these rocks release carbon dioxide, leaving `quicklime' which, by chemical
reaction when mixed with water (`slaking'), can be turned into a stable
powder - lime. Lime burning sites varied in scale from individual small
lime kilns adjacent to a quarry, to large-scale works designed to operate
commercially for an extended market and often associated with long
distance water or rail transport. Lime burning as an industry displays
well-developed regional characteristics, borne out by the regional styles
of East Anglia, West Gloucestershire or Derbyshire.
The form of kilns used for lime burning evolved throughout the history of
the industry, from small intermittent clamp and flare kilns, to large
continuously fired draw kilns that could satisfy increased demand from
urban development, industrial growth and agricultural improvement.
Small-scale rural lime production continued in the later 19th and 20th
centuries, but this period of the industry is mainly characterised by
large-scale production and the transfer of technologies from the cement
and other industries. The demand for mortars grew steadily during the 19th
and 20th centuries. The successful production of mortars made with
artificial cement represented an economic challenge to lime production and
gradually replaced the use of lime mortars in major construction and
engineering projects.
From a highly selective sample made at national level, around 200 lime
industry sites have been defined as being of national importance. These
have been defined to represent the industry's chronological depth,
technological breadth and regional diversity.

The double-kiln block at The Dell, off Wragby Road, represents a rare
survival of a pair of draw kilns in an urban context. As a result of good
documentary evidence the site is quite well understood, representing the only
known surviving lime kilns from a small group which operated to the east of
Lincoln Cathedral in the mid-19th century. As such it preserves unique
evidence for a limited period of use, which has been sealed by subsequent
infilling and remained relatively undisturbed for over a century. The site
will therefore preserve intact archaeological deposits relating to the
construction and use of the lime kilns in a distinct historic period, telling
us how they functioned as a characteristic feature of small-scale industry in
the urban landscape.

Source: Historic England

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