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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 188422

Hob Uid: 188422
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Nettlecombe
Grid Ref : ST0522934971
Summary : Extraction pits for ironstone, possibly originating in the medieval period or earlier, extend over a spur of land, defined by Gallopping Bottom to the west and an un-named stream to the east. They compare in form and extent with those preserved on the Blackdown Hills, for example at North Hill Common. In the 19th century this area, known as Colton Pits, was worked by the Ebbw Vale Company. It closed in 1883 and was re-opened in 1907 by the Somerset Mineral Railway Syndicate. A light railway, connected by an incline from Galloping Bottom, conveyed the ore to the yard at Brendon Hill. A brief period of prosperity ensued, but the mine closed for good in 1909.
More information : Ancient iron-mining at Colton (Area ST 0335) was known about before 1853, and in 1865 an adit on the east side of the hill there was opened. After driving 130 ft ancient
workings were intercepted over 100 ft below the surface. In these were found an oak shovel, some broken earthenware, a pickaxe and a turf dam; the dam appearing to be one of a series rising to the surface by means of which water was baled from level to level out of the mine. These were probably 18th century relics as a mine over 100 ft deep would be most unusual before then. (The adit may be represented by 'Shaft disused' published at ST 05353484 on OS 1:10 000 1976).

Colton Pits was worked during the latter part of the 19th century by the Ebbw Vale Company. It closed in 1883 and was re-opened in 1907 by the Somerset Mineral Railway Syndicate. A light railway, connected by an incline from Galloping Bottom, conveyed the ore to the yard at Brendon Hill. A brief period of prosperity ensued, but the mine closed for good in 1909.
(1)

The ironstone mining area covers a large area of ground on the northern escarpment of the Brendon Hills, and is centred at ST 052 348. A spur of land, defined by Gallopping Bottom to the west and an un-named stream to the east, is covered with the remains of extraction pits for ironstone. These may date from the medieval period or earlier and compare in form and extent with those preserved on the Blackdown Hills, for example at North Hill Common (2).

The 19th century ironstone mines consist of West Colton Adit, on the eastern side of Galloping Bottom, and East Colton Adit, on the side of the un-named tributary stream. West Colton Adit is depicted on the 1st edition OS 25" map as an adit and large spoil dump (ST 0503 3512). East Colton Adit is also depicted on the 1st edition map, and is named "Colton Pit (Disused)". A shaft is shown at ST 0535 3482 and also marked on the 1st edition are two large spoil dumps to the east of this shaft (3).

Both the 19th century mining remains and the earlier extraction pits are now under dense coniferous plantation. The remains are, however, visible on air photographs of 1947 and 1964, and are the subject of a large scale transcription by the APU (4-5).

The area of ironstone extraction has been surveyed by EH at a scale of 1:1000 at the request of the ENPA archaeologist. Full details in the survey report. (6-10)

The pre-19th century extractive pits are clearly visible as earthworks on aerial photographs of the 1940s, 1960s and 2000s. They have been transcribed at a scale of 1:2500 as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme Survey. At the surface the pits are roughly circular in shape and measure over 5 metres in diameter. They are closely spaced, with less than 1 metre separating many of the pits. Large dumps of spoil surround many of the pits. The 1960s aerial photographs reveal that the earthworks have been impacted by landscaping in advance of plantation planting. It is possible the circular earthworks are later-prehistoric in date. (11-13)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : The West Somerset mineral railway and the story of the Brendon Hills iron mines
Source details : The West Somerset Mineral Railway 1970 11,13,27, 41. R Sellick
Page(s) : 11, 13,27, 41
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Source Number : 2
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Riley H 1999 RCHME Field Investigation
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Source Number : 11
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF CPE/UK/2082 (F20) 4015-4017 19-MAY-1947
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Source Number : 12
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 543/2821 (F61) 125-26 27-APR-1964
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Source Number : 13
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR ST 0535/15 (23343/29) 01-MAR-2004
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Source Number : 3
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : Ordnance Survey 25" 1st edition maps, Somerset 58.4 and 59.1
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Source Number : 4
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 3323 11-APR-47
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Source Number : 5
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : NMR RAF 543/2821 (F62) 0297 27-APR-1964
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Source Number : 6
Source : Colton Pits Project/Ink AP Transcription
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Source Number : 7
Source : Colton Pits Project
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Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Riley H 2000 Colton Pits, Nettlecombe, Somerset, EH Survey Report
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Source Number : 9
Source : Colton Pits/Ink Survey
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Source Number : 10
Source : Colton Pits
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Later Prehistoric
Display Date : Later Prehistoric
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Prospecting Pit, Extractive Pit
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1700
Monument Type : Ironstone Mine
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33833
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 44928
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MSO7702
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : AF1304852
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : AF1328761
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 03 SE 8
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01