MSO8964 - Smoky Bottom Pit (Monument)


Little is known of the pit's history but it had ceased operations by 1867. Owned by the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Company, it was also known as the Smallcombe Bottom Mine. An elongated spoil heap is visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

"Smoky Bottom Pit" is marked on the Ordnance Survey maps of 1962 and 1904. [1,2] Little is known of its history but it had ceased operations by 1867. It was owned by the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Company and was also known as the Smallcombe Bottom Mine. [3] Located at SS 9785 3525 is elongated spoil heap associated with the above mentioned Smokey Bottom ironstone mine. The tip was seen as an earthwork and mapped from aerial photographs. [5-7] By 1865 the depth of the shaft was such that the portable engine at Smoky Bottom Pit was not able to effectively drain the mine. Rather than construct a permanent engine house, Smoky Bottom mine was connected with the new engine drift at Langham Hill, approximately 350 metres to the north. The Langham Hill drift was sunk in 1886 and a cross cut driven south, undercutting and draining Smoky Bottom. Winding from the surface at Smoky Bottom subsequently ceased, the engine removed and timber structure dismantled. As at Langham Hill, the new owner of the Chargot Estate, James Harvey Insole insisted that all mining remains at Smoky Bottom be covered with spoil, presumably imported from Langham Hill. The engine house was excavated in 1985-1986 by the Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society. [9] The shaft is situated at circa SS 97793512, its location marked by two beech trees. [10] Following the partial uncovering of stonework adjacent to a 19th Century iron mine, members of SIAS began an excavation to record and interpret the remains. Although the mine's operating period was believed to be of short duration, preliminary results suggest at least two phases of construction. [11] The remains of the engine house which stood close to the shaft head were excavated by the Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society between 1985 and 1987. It was found that the former spoil heap had been used to cover over the ruined building when it was disused. The ruins of the engine house are exposed and were recorded in detail during the excavations. [13] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [14] Additional bibliography. [15-16]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560. SS93NE.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. County Series; 2nd Edition (1st Revision) 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1904, 58(1).
  • <3> Monograph: Sellick R. 1970. The West Somerset Mineral Railway. 40.
  • <4> Monograph: Bryant T.C. 1980. The Hollow Hills of Brendon. 6.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3337.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3338.
  • <7> Collection: RCHME: Brendon Hills Mapping Project, SS93NE.
  • <8> Report: The Hartley Conservation Partnership + David Sekers Consulting Partnership. 2004. West Somerset Mineral Railway Conservation Plan. P.28.
  • <9> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1995. Notes on some of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines and the West Somerset Mineral Railway. P.12.
  • <10> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1995. Report on Proposed Low-Key Visitor Access to Industrial Sites on the Brendon Hills. P.15.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society. 1990. Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society Visit to the Brendon Hills. P3-4.
  • <12> Article in serial: Murless, B. 1986. in Dennison, E "Somerset Archaeology 1986". Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society 130. 130. 160.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, March 1999.
  • <14> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1127751, Extant 19 April 2022.
  • <15> Article in serial: Jones, M.H.. 1988. The Excavation of Smoky Bottom Engine House. Industrial Archaeology Review. 11. Part 1, 86-92. pp 86-92.
  • <16> Article in serial: Jones, M.H.. 2006. The Brendon Hills Industrial Survey 1993–2005. Industrial Archaeology Review. 28. Part 2, pp 97-106.



Grid reference Centred SS 979 352 (181m by 65m)
Map sheet SS93NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO799
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11084
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 93 NE39
  • National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1127751
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33381

Record last edited

Apr 28 2022 2:53PM


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