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Parkview, lime kilns 275m south of

A Scheduled Monument in Johnstone South and Elderslie, Renfrewshire

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Latitude: 55.8142 / 55°48'51"N

Longitude: -4.5367 / 4°32'12"W

OS Eastings: 241143

OS Northings: 660797

OS Grid: NS411607

Mapcode National: GBR 3F.6MRT

Mapcode Global: WH3PB.84W2

Entry Name: Parkview, lime kilns 275m S of

Scheduled Date: 5 October 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12898

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: chemical

Location: Lochwinnoch

County: Renfrewshire

Electoral Ward: Johnstone South and Elderslie

Traditional County: Renfrewshire


The monument comprises the remains of an extensive lime production site of the 18th century, consisting of 27 clamp kilns, a lade, spoil heaps and probable mine workings and coal pits. Reference is made to the commencement of large-scale limestone quarrying at the site in 1776. The monument is located on a W-facing outcrop of limestone located at around 50m above sea level and around 870m ESE of the Black Cart Water.

Seventeen of the clamp kilns are located in an arc along the SE side of the site and are oriented with their open ends facing west and north-west to the remains of the quarry. A further five are located to the north on different orientations and three more are located in the south-west with another three located to the south-east, behind the primary string of kilns. The kilns are regularly spaced and each measures around 4m by 2m transversely and around 1.5m deep. The kilns are lined with slag and fragments of weathered shelly limestone. The course of the Swinetrees Burn runs from south to north along the W side of the site. The burn is dammed close to NS 4107 6077 and from this point a lade measuring 3m wide and 4m deep runs west, becoming shallower as it does, to the site of a water-powered pumping engine, located outwith the scheduled area. Shallow depressions probably marking the positions of coal shafts lie towards the north-east and south-east of the monument. The quarry is located outside the scheduled area, but it is possible that mine workings extended from the quarry into the scheduled area.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan to include the visible remains and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The quarry adjacent to the lime kilns is not included in the scheduled area. Specifically excluded from the scheduling to allow for maintenance is the post-and-wire fence along the western edge of the monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

Limestone from locally occurring outcrops, and later in the 18th century from shafts, was extracted and burnt in kilns to produce lime, a valuable building material and soil enhancer for agricultural improvements. It was also later used in a patented process for bleaching cloth. Clamp kilns were structures in which the fuel, in this case locally extracted coal, was interspersed with the limestone, covered to reduce the amount of fuel needed, and burnt to extract the lime as a residue from the fire. This process took up to two weeks in clamp kilns. In this location the limestone appeared initially as a number of surface outcrops and many earlier quarries within the surrounding area, noted on early Ordnance Survey mapping, have been infilled. The monument is located on the Castle Semple Estate, owned at this time by William McDowell. A partnership consisting of McDowell and George Johnstone of Howwood, the neighbouring estate, was formed in 1776 to begin large-scale extraction. It would appear that Johnstone had experience of quarrying limestone and acted as the technical and managerial expert in the partnership. Initially, limestone was extracted from an open quarry, but by 1812 tunnels were mined into the quarry sides to exploit the limestone seam, only 1.5m thick. The extent of the underground mine workings is not currently known, but they may extend into the scheduled area.

The monument comprises the remains of this enterprise and is visible as 27 clamp kilns, spoil heaps, two depressions marking probable coal mining shafts, and a lade and dam. Specifically, the kilns are of Nisbet's type 2A form and consist of U-shaped hollows dug into the slope in a row. A track runs between the main line of kilns and the quarry, leading north to the Midton road. It was probably used to take the lime off site, probably on horse-drawn wagons. The function of the lade was to power a water pump located to the north-west of the quarry. The pump was used to drain the quarry and workings into the Swinetrees Burn and on to the Black Cart, and is an early example of water management at a limestone quarry, in use by 1782.

Apart from shrubs and other vegetation growth, the monument is in good condition and apparently undisturbed. Good preservation of clamp kilns, with their earthen construction, is uncommon and this monument is a rare survival of an early, documented, lime-producing site. It is impressive not only in terms of survival and preservation, but also scale. It is an unusually large group of kilns, which were probably used in rotation to ensure that some were always burning whilst some were cleaned and others were prepared for the next firing, ensuring a constant supply of lime. Given the good state of preservation it is highly likely that archaeologically significant deposits and structures exist as buried remains around the visible elements of the monument.

Contextual characteristics

Lime had been traditionally produced in Scotland since at least the 11th century, primarily for use in small-scale local agricultural improvements and building projects where it was used in mortar plaster, harl and wash. The lime was sourced and used locally and early production sites tend to be located close to settlements. The scale of the lime industry in Scotland increased significantly during the 18th and 19th centuries, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and agricultural improvements pushing up demand. Lime was also used from the 18th century in some cloth-bleaching processes and one particular method was patented by the Renfrewshire chemist, Charles Tennant, in 1799. Renfrewshire was a famous cloth-producing area and Howwood was just one location where bleaching and cloth finishing was one of the main industries.

As transport networks were improved the number of local sites for local use decreased, but the amount of lime produced at well-connected sites increased as these sites expanded. In some areas of Renfrewshire limestone quarrying and burning became the main source of employment after agriculture. The industry peaked in the late 18th century when output of lime in Renfrewshire has been estimated at over 100, 000 tons per annum for agricultural use alone. Demand outstripped supply and lime was also brought into the region from across the county border. Further developments in transport, particularly the rail network, led to a decline in the industry in Renfrewshire as cheaper sources were exploited further afield, making many local sources uneconomic, especially those where the easily accessible limestone was exhausted.

In Renfrewshire the lime industry is confined to the lower-lying ground where the thick cap of lava found on the high ground is missing. Clamp kilns are the favoured type of kiln used. The monument is located within the Corseford Basin in Lochwinnoch parish, one of the earliest lime-producing areas known in the region. It is known that initially limestone was quarried and then subsequently mined until most supplies were exhausted. Recent research into the production of lime in Renfrewshire has revealed that many more sites exist than have previously been recorded or recognised. Around 100 lime-working sites have now been added to the record in the region where the geological presence of both coal and lime ensured a supply of the raw materials needed for the process. In Scotland as a whole around 900 sets of lime kilns have been recorded, but it is likely that this is only a small number of those ever built and used. Of the 900 known examples, only around 52 are early clamp types and, of these, so far only two sets have been scheduled.

The monument is surrounded by a landscape marked with extensive traces of the industry and associated sites. Three old coal pits are noted on the Ordnance Survey First Edition at 210m to the NE and at 220m and 245m to the NNE. A further set of old quarries is noted 140m to the W, and 585m to the WNW is the former site of Corseford Coal and Lime Works with two lime kilns and a pump depicted. Further lime works, bleach works, quarries and coal pits are noted in the outlying area, notably Midtown Bleach works, 625m to the SW. The monument forms an integral part of this industrial landscape and is vital to our understanding of the diverse and related industries of the region at this time, their growth, development and decline. The traditional view that clamp kilns are an early form of kiln and more temporary, ephemeral structures than later stone-built draw kilns has recently been challenged. Some clamp kilns were robust, permanent structures in use for long periods of time. Research also indicates that the type of kiln favoured at a site is dependent on a number of factors, such as period and duration of production, scale of operation, use for which the lime is being produced, the availability of the limestone, whether the demand for the lime was constant or seasonal, and local tradition. The monument has the capacity to add significantly to this debate and further our understanding of the chronology and architecture of lime kilns and technology.

Associative characteristics

There are few documentary sources relating to the lime industry and early sites such as this are rarely documented at all. Unusually, in this instance the site is mentioned in a document of 1776, an agreement between McDowell and Johnstone to work the limestone in partnership. It is also mapped on Ainslie's map of Renfrewshire 1796, where it is marked as 'lime works', and on his estate plan of Castle Semple dated to about 1780.

The monument is noted as 'old quarry' on the Ordnance Survey First Edition, but the extensive array of kilns are neither noted nor depicted, probably due to their having been out of use for some time at this date.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the technologies used in the lime industry and the development of this industry in Scotland. It retains a significant proportion of its field characteristics and is a well-preserved example of its class, with little sign of later disturbance. Because of its intimate association with agricultural improvements, this was one of the earliest industries to be developed on a large scale, particularly where there was nearby coal extraction. The kilns are particularly important because they are of unusually large scale. The loss of this example would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the significance of this industry in the economic and social development of southern Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NS27NW 137.


Nisbet, S. 2007. The Archaeology of the Lime Industry in Renfrewshire. Renfrewshire Local History Forum Journal, Vol 13.

Nisbet, S. 2000. An 18th century innovation: Meikle Corseford Lime Quarries. Renfrewshire Local History Forum Journal, Vol 10.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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