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Oldknow's Lime Kilns - Archaeological Dig at Oldknow’s Lime Kilns 18-30 April 2022

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Archaeological Dig at Oldknow’s Lime Kilns 18-30 April 2022

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The ‘Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy’ project, which finished in 2018, included exploratory investigations of the bank of limekilns near Top Lock on the Peak Forest Canal. From this a group of interested people banded together as the Friends of the Lime Kilns (FOLK) to further the investigations and work to maintain the kilns. Their most recent endeavour has been a community arclime kiln 4haeological dig at the top of the kilns in the Forces Club car park starting at Easter and finishing with an Open Day on 30 April.

Professionals from the Archaeology Department of Salford University provided technical expertise and organised the day to day running of the dig, while the hard work of digging was done by volunteers who turned up in good numbers (at least 22 of them) keen to find out more about the site. Funding was provided by a variety of interested organisations, including FOLK themselves, Mellor Archaeological Trust, the Macnair Trust, Marple Area Committee, and Association of Industrial Archaeologists.

Over the fortnight the tops of several of the kilns were opened, showing the method of construction and lining of handmade local bricks, in some cases vitrified due to the high heat generated during firing, but in remarkably good condition. A canal arm was found which would have allowed boats to take limestone directly to the tops of the kilns, and at one end of the site the shaft of a coal mine was uncovered.

All sorts of artefacts were found, including an axle from a tram tub bogey, and a rather bent piece of tramway rail, bottles, wall tiles, metal bolts, stone roof tiles, a metal spar from the bows of a narrow boat, and lots of bits of brick, many embossed with ‘Tymm’, the name of the people who ran the lime kilns for a substantial part of its existence.

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An Open day was held on Saturday 30th and attracted over 200 visitors who were taken on guided tours of the site and could look at the artefacts and pictures connected with the dig.

lime kiln 6What will happen now? The fortnight’s work has shown that the kilns are in remarkably good condition for their age. The findings will be evaluated to derive a strategy for long term conservation of the historical and archaeological attributes.

Anyone interested in playing a part in the future of the kilns is urged to offer their services to FOLK via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Text: Judith Wilshaw

Photos: Arthur Procter