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Bell Pit(S) (Period Unassigned), Colliery (Period Unassigned), Mine Workings (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Archerbeck

Classification Bell Pit(S) (Period Unassigned), Colliery (Period Unassigned), Mine Workings (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Canonbie Coalfield; Archerbeck Colliery

Canmore ID 92584

Site Number NY47NW 22

NGR NY 4172 7759

NGR Description Centred NY 4172 7759

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.


Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Canonbie
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NY47NW 22 centred 4172 7759

See also NY47NW 16 and NY47NW 24.

For miners' rows at Archerbeck or Rowanburn (NY 410 772), see NY47NW 30.

The mining remains at Archerbeck mark the E extent of the Canonbie coalfield, and belong to one of the two collieries in the parish established by the end of the 18th century.

In the early 1770's, the lease for the colliery at Archerbeck was granted by the Duke of Buccleuch to an Englishman called Lomax. The conditions of the lease were such that Lomax had to ensure a regular supply of coal at an affordable price, and this constraint restricted mining operations to areas that would yield immediate returns. At the same time, Lomax had acquired the lease for the limestone quarry at Harelawhill, and the coal from Archerbeck no doubt provided the fuel for the two kilns which were built adjacent to the quarry NY47NW 16.

Lomax's first workings may be amongst those immediately to the S of the Archerbeck Bridge, but when a flood exposed a seam of coal further downstream, Lomax transferred his operations to exploit this. Having then obtained a life rent of the coalfield, Lomax continued to mine the upper two coal seams until his death. The numerous bell-pits that flank the sides of the Archer Beck all probably belong to this period, and, in one instance, the tree-stumps of an earlier plantation, perhaps that shown on the 1st ed OS map, clearly lie on the rim of spoil surrounding the row of three bell-pits that is depicted at NY 4168 7769 on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Dumfriesshire, sheet liv, 1862). To drain the coalfield, Lomax also drove a level through the Permian strata, and its rock-cut exit can still be seen discharging water into the Archer Beck, some 300m to the SE of the bridge (NY 4178 7742). Another rock-cut passage, still supported by a pit-prop at its mouth, is situated below the modern road at a point where a track through the plantation fords the burn (NY 4182 7760). This too is discharging water, and the mouth of the passage is indicated by heavy ironstaining.

Given the presence of a geological fault, the possibility of any coal deposits lying to the N of the Archerbeck Bridge is effectively ruled out. However, during the summer of 1993, the plantation immediately to the N of Archerbeck Bridge was felled and replanted, and several features were revealed in this area. On the E bank of the Archer Beck, a trial drift mine with little upcast is visible (NY 4175 7782), while on the edge of the burn, there is one small bell-pit with a long tail of dumped shale (NY 4170 7782); this forms an embankment, and may have led to a bridge across the burn, for it can also be traced on the W bank running along the edge of a terrace. These features are probably nothing more than trials, and as such may also be amongst the earliest in the area.

Coal mining returned to Archerbeck in the late 1930's when a small mine was established on the W bank of the burn, below Archerbeck Bridge. This mine was operated by Mr Potts of Prioryhill, Rowanburn, and was still working in the early 1940's. At the same time, Mr Potts also held the lease for the Harelawhill Lime Works.

Visited by RCAHMS (ARW, SPH), 29 April 1993.

OSA 1791-9, NSA 1845, E Gibsone 1862, B H Barrett, J E Richey and W E Graham 1945.

Archerbeck Colliery. Listed as mines and bell-pits.

RCAHMS 1997.


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