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Tyne and Wear HER(11969): Newcastle, The Swirle, lime kilns - Details

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Newcastle, The Swirle, lime kilns





Lime Kiln




Excavations in 1990 found that ballast dumping in C13 had created a linear embankment of the foreshore, south of the natural shoreline. The embankment was made up of water-worn boulders of carboniferous limestone, pieces of chalk and flint. Pottery found above the dumped ballast suggests a date of construction within C13. In the C14 the area between the artificial embankment and the original north river bank was infilled with ballast sand. The embankment continued to be raised in height and more ballast sand dumped behind it. There was evidence of limeburning on the shore - an ash and mortar layer, then limestone and chalk dumps to a height of 0.60m upon which a southern row of 4 lime kilns were built. The kilns were tied together by a sandstone frantage wall. Great quantities of waste was produced and dumped to the south. 3 further kilns were built. A revetment wall and possible wharf for offloading limestone and chalk to charge the kilns. The downward slope of The Swirle was infilled with limekiln waste, pottery, lopped branches and leather offcuts and pieces from shoes (92 pieces of cow-hide sewn with flax threads). Pottery evidence suggests that limeburning took place before the early C14 and until the third quarter of the C14. Archaeomagnetic dating suggests up until c. 1380-1400. After the kilns were demolished there was a massive landfill operation using domestic and industrial refuse (including C14-C16 pottery). In C17 the site was terraced and a north-south revetment wall built. Structures including a series of floors, an external hardstanding of cobbles and pebbles and a pit containing Tudor greenware were built onto the terraces cut into the ballast. These were demolished in early C18.




Ellison, M., McCombie, G.M. MacElvaney, M., Newman, A., O'Brien, C., Taverner, N. & Williams, A., 1993, 'Excavations at Newcastle Quayside: Waterfront Development at the Swirle', ARCHAEOL. AELIANA (5) XXI, 151-234; Barbara Harbottle, 2009, The Medieval Archaeology of Newcastle in Diana Newton and AJ Pollard (eds), 2009, Newcastle and Gateshead before 1700, page 32

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