Glencotho lime kilns and deserted settlement

Lime Kilns

Lime kilns
Lime kilns

The existence of three clamp kilns, located close to Glencotho House, a little over 3 km SW of Broughton, has been known for some time. The kilns obviously utilised the Wrae Limestone from the ‘small quarry on the west flank of Benshaw Hill [NT 090 294]’ (Leggett, 1980), reached by the track that passes close by the kilns.

The Wrae Limestone is of considerable interest from a geological viewpoint. The fossils recovered from it indicate that it dates to late Ordovician times, unlike most Scottish limestones which are of Carboniferous date. Furthermore, although the limestone occurs now in a context of deep sea sediments, largely greywackes and mudstones, the fossils indicate that it was initially laid down in a shallow water environment, possibly on a sea mount of volcanic origin. Subsequently, the limestone was transported to the deep water environment as a ‘debris flow’ or submarine landslide.

Beginning the excavation of the lime kilns
The beginning of the excavation of the lime kilns

Limited excavation (Ward, forthcoming) in one kiln showed it had been formally built with greywacke stone, some of which was vitrified in the burning process, and that coal was the fuel used. The kilns are reckoned to be 18th century in date, originally supplying lime for agriculture and possibly also for building.


LEGGETT, J. K. 1980. Palaeogeographic setting of the Wrae Limestone: an Ordovician submarine-slide deposit in Tweeddale. Scottish Journal of Geology    No. 59, Vol. 16, (2/3), 91-104

Deserted settlement

Cobbled floor from 17th centuary settlement
Part of cobbled floor revealed in an excavation trench with the position of a fire clearly showing in red.

The settlement site of Chapelgill near Glencotho was investigated by trial trenches which showed a range of buildings apparently dating from the 17th to the early 19th centuries.

One 17th century building had lime-plastered walls and a plaster and lathe ceiling. A midden deposit containing fragments from at least 60 18th century wine bottles was found. A scond midden contained sherds of Staffordshire-type slipware pottery.

Reconstructed plate and bottle
Reconstructed plate and bottle from the excavation

The assemblage of objects found at the site closely resembles those from the Clydesdale bastle houses, showing that the Clyde and Tweed valleys were culturally very similar in the 17th and 18th centuries. The archaeology of these projects is establishing a new level of data on the social and material lifestyles of tenant farmers at that time.