Coal Mining Remains Immediately North East of Horseditch House on Clee Hill
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County Council (Unitary)
SJ597597 (359691, 277409)
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The earthwork and buried remains of medieval coal mining north east of Horseditch House on Clee Hill. 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 easy accessible outcroppings of the coal measures 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 first. 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, up to 5 metres in diameter, with a central hollow indicating the location of the shaft. 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 1 metre deep, with associated mounds and ridges of spoil up to 2 metres 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. Scheduled.
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