MSO8052 - 19th Century lime kiln at Bossington Beach (Building)


The remains of a limekiln above Bossington Beach, depicted as 'Old Limekiln' on historic mapping. It measures 10 metres by 7 metres, and the bowl is being infilled.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

"Old limekiln" printed on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. [1] "Limekiln (disused)" printed on Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 map. [2] There may be a pillbox in this location. [3] SS 89123 48317. A disused lime kiln on the coast at Bossington Beach near Porlock. The kiln, a typical draw kiln constructed of roughly coursed stone blocks and large beach pebbles, is built into the south side of a massive shingle bank. Basically rectangular in plan it measures 10 metres east to west by 7 metres with five buttresses, three supporting the south wall and one each at the south corners of the east and west walls. The buttresses (later additions) are 1 metre square and the southeast one has an Ordnance Survey Bench Mark (6.46 metres) engraved on it. From the east and west walls two short wing walls project outwards at right-angles; that on the east (9 metres long, 0.5 metres thick and 1.7 metres high) is angled and its north side is reinforced by a turf covered pebble revetment, whilst the west one (4.5 metres long, 0.5 metres thick and 1.9 metres high) is straight. The kiln reaches a maximum height of 4.5 metres high on its south side with a partially collapsed parapet topping the wall 1.1 metres high and 0.5 metres thick. There is a turf covered earth and stone ramp up the north side which is contained by two outward curving wing walls. This ramp gives access to the top of the central combustion chamber, or pot, which is 3.2 metres in diameter within a wall 0.5 metres thick. Only the top 0.5 to 1 metres of the bowl can be seen the rest being infilled. There are two arched drawhole recesses near central to the east and west sides each about 2.4 metres wide, 1.7 metres high and 4 metres deep. They have slightly tapered straight sides and curved end walls with central iron drawholes 0.5 metres square. Near the top corners of the eastern recess facade are two small rectangular holes (0.2 metres wide, 0.3 metres high and 0.3 metres deep) 1.7 metres above ground level. There is a similar one (0.15 metres square and 0.25 metres deep) on the south side of the western recess arch. Their purpose is obscure but perhaps they were for support beams for some type of overhead shelter. Four kilns are shown near this site on an 1809 Bossington Estate map. They are depicted as unannotated open circles but appear in the apportionment as 'Lime Kiln' [4]. Three of these kilns are also shown on the 1842 Tithe Map as unannotated rectangular buildings (see MSO8056, MSO8057, MSO8058, and MSO8059) [5]. This field survey shows that this is not one of those four kilns, which were situated some 50 metres to 150 metres further to the east. So this kiln must have been constructed after 1842. It is not known when the kiln was last used but it is shown on the 1889 Ordnance Survey map annotated 'Old Limekiln [6]', so it must have gone out of use by then. Published Survey [7] correct. [8] The kiln was reported as being in poor condition in an assessment survey in 1995. The same assessment identified the kiln as being depicted on a Holnicote estate map of 1876, placing its construction between 1842 and 1876. [9] A post-medieval lime kiln, visible as a ruinous structure, was mapped from aerial photographs taken in 1941 and 1946. Centred at SS 8912 4831, the lime kiln consists of a large,rectangular stone built structure with three walls, the fourth northwest-facing (seaward) side being open, within which is a circular stone kiln. The rear wall, aligned northeast-southwest, is about 9.6 metres long and 1.5 metres wide, with three equally spaced buttresses that rise the height of the wall. The west and east walls are aligned northwest-southeast, about 10 metres long, have buttresses at the rear landward-facing end and are flared outwards at the seaward facing end. From each side wall, two short lengths of walls extend out at right angles, the southwest one being straight and about 5 metres long and the northeast one being about 8 metres long with an angled bend halfway along it. The circular stone kiln is about 3 metres in diameter and appears to be infilled with material to the top. The structure was still visible in aerial photogrpahs taken in 1999. [10-14] The kiln is in good condition although there is extensive cracking in the back wall. Surveyed 17 November 1996. [15] The kiln consisted of a strong stone building surrounding a huge pit, about 16 feet deep and about 8 feet in diameter; underneath were sometimes two or three archways. It was from these archways that the lime, when molten, dropped from a type of flue. The firing took several days; the method was to burn the limestone with culm (pronounced cullum locally), an anthracite dust, also imported from Wales. A lime burner was recorded in Bossington in the 1851 census. [16] The building was visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6. [17] Confirmation received from Historic England that there is no record of this site ever being listed. It is not clear, therefore, why it has previously been recorded as a listed building. [18] The lime kiln was photographed on 16 May 1996 by the RCHME. [19] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [20] A large mid 19th Century kiln, built of stone rubble and beach cobbles. It has two draw arches, facing east and west, with a ramp on its north side for loading and butresses on the corners. It processed limestone and coal (culm) brought to the site via the sea from South Wales. The fragmentary remains of three further kilns recorded in 1812 are just to the east. [21]

Sources/Archives (22)

  • --- Unpublished document: Dove, C.. 2022. Exmoor LHL Panel Meeting 28 November 2022. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560. SS84NE.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1975. 1:10,000 Map, 1975. 1:10,000. SS84NE.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Dawson T. 2002. How effective is archaeological fieldwork in identifying different building types of the WW2 defensive installations along the North Somerset coast between Porlock Weir and Watchet. Unpublished A level report.
  • <4> Survey: Law, A., Bradley, and Summers. 1809. Copy of a survey and valuation of part of the manor of Holnicote, the manors of Bossington Wilmersham, West Luckham, Stock Pero, East Luckham and Blackford also the barton of East Lockham and Eastcotts and Goodwins Lands. Unknown.
  • <5> Map: Collard Cox, W.. 1841. Luccombe Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889, Somerset 34(2).
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1972. 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. SS 8948.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 22 November 1994.
  • <9> Report: McDonnell, R.. 1995. Porlock Bay and Marsh: A Rapid Preliminary Assessment of the Cultural and Palaeoenvironmental Resource. P. 20.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8948/6 (MSO 31206/005) (21 June 1941).
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 4015 (11 July 1946).
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. MAL/76047 228 (25 June 1976).
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8948/10 (18299/10) (19 March 1999).
  • <14> Archive: Crowther, S., Dickson, A. and Truscoe, K.. 2007. Severn Estuary Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment: SS 84 NE. MD000130.
  • <15> Report: Holley, S.. 1997. An Investigation of Limekilns on Exmoor for the Purposes of Conservation.
  • <16> Monograph: Corner, Dennis. 1992. Porlock in Those Days. Exmoor Books. p20-1.
  • <17> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <18> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. E-mail from Minor Amendments Team, Historic England, 26 May 2016.
  • <19> Photograph: Hesketh-Roberts, M.. 1996. Job: Lime Kilms And Pill Boxes [sic]. Colour. Negative.
  • <20> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 881336, Extant 8 February 2022.
  • <21> Monograph: Daniel, P. (Ed.). 2019. A guide to the industrial archaeology of Somerset. Association for Industrial Archaeology. 2nd Edition. p 66, W4.1.

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (4A): 1076/3/85
  • Coastal Risk 2014: Flood Zone 3 tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 2 tidal
  • Coastal Risk 2016: Flood Zone 3 tidal
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO296
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11586
  • Local Heritage List Status (Listed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE38
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust HER Record: MNA141386
  • NBR Index Number: 96/01629
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 881336
  • Shoreline Management Plan 2 (0-20)
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33992



Grid reference Centred SS 2891 1483 (22m by 20m) MasterMap
Map sheet SS21SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (4)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Dec 8 2023 2:10PM


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