17th century lime kiln near Ingleton

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Historical Environment Record No:
Thornton in Lonsdale
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Broadwood sow kiln - excavation MYD36642 © David Johnson, 2004

Broadwood sow kiln – excavation MYD36642 © David Johnson, 2004

Archaeological excavation of a slight earthwork at Broadwood in 2003 revealed a buried but intact lime kiln of the sow kiln type. It was remarkable for its state of preservation and for its having been full to the brim with burnt lime and limestone. In this respect, this kiln may well be unique.

It consisted of a bowl, sunk into a pre-existing embankment, 2.2 metres in diameter and 90cm deep. On the eastern side a stone-lined flue, which had lost its stone capping, stretched 1.42 metres from the bowl to a rake-out area. The bowl was lined with courses of fire-resistant sandstone, set at an angle of 40-45 degrees from the vertical.

The kiln is not sited near any naturally outcropping source of limestone, and excavation confirmed that the limeburners had sited it here to make use of limestone boulders scattered through the banks of the adjacent Romano-British enclosure. They simply collected the boulders then smashed them up into small pieces suitable for burning.

The end of this kiln’s life presents a perplexing mystery. It had been filled with stone and the fire had been lit. However, the firing process was never completed. The kiln had been abandoned, the fire had burned in an uncontrolled way, and had then gone out leaving layers of over-burned, part-burned and unburned stone within the bowl.

Scientific analysis has dated the last firing to between 1650 and 1695, and artefacts found within it show it had been abandoned and infilled at the very end of that century or the beginning of the next.


Johnson, David (ed)(2004) Excavation of Broadwood Enclosure, Thornton-in-Lonsdale, North Yorkshire. Ingleton: Ingleborough Archaeology Group


From Ingleton centre follow signs to Waterfalls Walk. To right of entrance to Waterfalls Walk take public footpath signed 'Thornton Hall'. After 150 metres reach kissing gate, view site on right over field gate. No public access.

Public Transport Details

Nearest town/village: Ingleton. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.


Footpath has steep incline at start. Rough and muddy in places. Stone step stile and kissing gate.