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Cults Hill, Limestone Quarry

Clamp Kiln(S) (Period Unassigned), Lime Kiln(S) (Period Unassigned), Limestone Quarry (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Cults Hill, Limestone Quarry

Classification Clamp Kiln(S) (Period Unassigned), Lime Kiln(S) (Period Unassigned), Limestone Quarry (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Cults Lime Works

Canmore ID 31212

Site Number NO30NW 113

NGR NO 3433 0858

NGR Description Centred NO 3433 0858

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Cults
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Architecture Notes

see also NO30NE 23


Note (1976)

(Location cited as NO 343 086 and 352 089). Cults Limeworks, 19th century and later. At the former location are a large kiln-range, rubble-built, but reinforced in concrete in 1936, and a single-storey rubble lime store, now roofed in corrugated iron. There is a similar but smaller range at the latter location, where there are also twin steel-clad kilns and a modern crushing plant. The kilns are disused.

J R Hume 1976.

Field Visit (November 1996 - May 1997)

NO30NW 113.00 Centred 3433 0858

For Lime Works and Brick & Tile works see also NO30NW 23.00.

NO30NW 113.01 Centred NO 3370 0820 Limestone Quarry [Pitlessie Lime Works]

NO30NW 113.02 Centred NO 3377 0835 Clamp-Kilns; Kiln (possible)

NO30NW 113.03 Centred NO 3370 0800 Clamp_kilns; Structures; Building

NO30NW 113.04 Centred NO 3433 0859 Limestone Quarry [Bunzion Lime Works]

NO30NW 113.05 Centred NO 3433 0858 Limekilns; Clamp-Kilns; Machinery Plinths; Miners'Rows; Buildings; Limestone Mines

NO30NW 113.06 Centred NO 3407 0850 Clamp_KIlns; Buildings; Magazine; Limestone Mine

NO30NW 113.07 Centred NO 3456 0859 Clamp_kilns; Limekiln; Airshafts

NO30NW 113.08 Centred NO 3482 0866 Limestone Mine; Tramway; Buuldings

NO30NW 113.09 From NO 3435 0855 to NO 3500 0871 Tramways

NO30NW 113.10 From NO 3430 0861 to NO 3507 0885 Mineral Railway

The Cults Limestone Quarry and its associated works which occupy the N flank of Cults Hill extend for some 2.5km, and are aligned NE to SW to follow the limestone outcrop, with the major extractive area concentrated in the central section. In the mid-19th century, the limestone was worked from three separate quarries - Pitlessie Lime Works, Bunzion Lime Works and Cults Lime Works - but by 1895 they had been amalgamated into the Cults and Pitlessie Lime Works, with the former Bunzion and Cults Works being known as the West and East Works respectively. Several features of the quarry are of particular interest; large stone limekilns at the former East and West Works (NO30NW 113.05 and NO23NE 23.03); numerous well-preserved banks of clamp-kilns; limestone mines; and an extensive system of tramways which connects many of the mines and workings to the kilns.

The quarry is mentioned in the Statistical Account (OSA 1791-7) and the New Statistical Account (NSA 1845), but it is possible that there were workings in use earlier in the 18th century as Roy (W Roy 1747-55) shows some small circular features at this location. The OS Name Book (ONB) notes that Cults Hill is ' a hill of ridge like appearance in the north slope of which an extensive limeworks named after the Parish') and that there are 'large and extensive lime quarries with farm house, two stories high, offices and farm attached, the property of the Earl of Glasgow' (ONB 1856). The quarries produced lime of 'excellent quality' (ONB 1856), and during the mid-19th century about one third was being shipped at Newburgh for Dundee and Perth, for onward transhipment to places in Forfarshire and Perthshire. Coals for burning the lime 'were brought from Teases in Ceres parish, Burnturk in Kettle and from Kilmux in the parish of Leven' (Leighton 1840). During the 19th century the quarries and works gave 'employment to around 43 labourers and large numbers were also used in the transport of lime' (J M Leighton 1840).

The three earlier separate limestone quarries are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Fife and Kinross, 1856, sheet 17), however, by the 1st edition of the 25-inch OS map (Fifeshire, New series, 1895 sheet xiii.15) they had amalgamated. The 25-inch map shows many old lime-clamps (clamp-kilns) amongst the spoil heaps, and tramways are depicted running through the workings. In 1876 the quarry was connected to the national railway system by the standard gauge Cults & Pitlessie Lime Works Railway built in 1876 (Brown and Batchelor n.d.).

By 1914 (OS 25-inch revision, Fifeshire, sheet XIII.15), the tramway system had been altered, with some tracks being abandoned reflecting the shift in extraction areas within the quarry. Other notable changes were to a group of three masonry limekilns (NO30NW 113.05) which, by this time, had been amalgamated into one composite kiln. Quarrying ceased some time in the 1960s to leave only the limeworks and brick-and-tile works in production, with limestone being brought by lorry from Shap, Cumbria.

The quarry is visible on vertical air photographs taken in 1946 (RAF 106G/Scot/UK 4429-31); 1949 (RAF 541/A/474, 3078-81) and 1953 (58/RAF/1263, 0061-62); however, the most informative is a series taken in April 1967 from a lower altitude by the Ordnance Survey (OS 67/058, 199, 201-3). Many of the clamp-kilns are visible on the vertical air photographs. along with all the main elements of both the kilns, structures, including the miners' rows, later works and the quarry workings.

Visited by RCAHMS (DE) November 1996 and May 1997

OSA 1791-7; NSA 1845; Name Book 1856; Brown and Batchelor n.d.; J M Leighton 1840.

Publication Account (2013)


NO434 086; NO352 089

Two groups of kilns stand on the hillside in front of extensive excavated workings. Four large kilns, one of them dated 1870, three of them encased in concrete in 1937, and a lime store with battered walls and a big corrugated iron roof. Further east, another stone kiln, two steel-built ones and 20th century crushing plant loaded from the bank above. A narrow-gauge railway connected to this.

NOTE: The charging area above the kilns is not secured against the drop. Take care.

M Watson, 2013


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