An unsightly heap in the corner of a North York Moors field has revealed a historic link to the past with a well-preserved limestone kiln, thanks to collaboration between landowners, the National Park and local archaeologists.

The find has delighted Elaine and Dave Newham, who had little idea what the untidy mound on the edge of their land was hiding.

Elaine said: "It was completely neglected, just a heap of earth covered in stones, bushes and nettles. It was marked on an old map as a kiln so we knew that’s what had been there, but we had no idea if anything was left."

While researching grants available in the National Park, Elaine saw funding is available through the Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme to help conserve historic structures, and enable more people learn about them. Through this the North York Moors National Park provided a grant of  £12,000. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Dave Newham and the discovered lime kiln

Trees and vegetation were cleared and experts from Staithes-based Quercus Archaeology set to work. This revealed a well-preserved section of the kiln’s main firing chamber, lined with handmade bricks, and a stokehole, through which the fire was fed.

The kiln will have once produced lime to improve local farmland, most likely during the 18th Century. After transportation from a nearby limestone quarry, the raw product would be fired in the kiln to produce lump lime, quick lime, before being dispersed over a field.

Located on the coastal edge, the site is now undergoing a more in-depth investigation, with hope the structure can be restored as an educational asset for the local community. New trees have also been planted to replace removed ones.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The limekiln discovered on the North York Moors

Dave Arnott, Farming in Protected Landscapes Officer, said: "While lime kilns are not an unusual sight in the Moors landscape, they remain an important link to our agricultural and industrial past. It’s fantastic that Elaine and Dave want to conserve this heritage."

Stephen Timms, director of Quercus Archaeology, added: "I’ve been an archaeologist for 30 years and it never ceases to amaze me what is just under your feet. We weren’t expecting to see such a well-preserved kiln under a big pile of rubble. It has been great to be involved in such a positive project which adds to our understanding of rural life on the Moors but also helps Elaine and David contribute to the local community."

"It’s been so exciting to see what’s emerged, a very worthwhile process when you think that it could have stayed as it was and been lost," said Elaine.