Community Archaeology Forum cba logo
Community Archaeology cba logo
The CBA's Community Archaeology Resource

Ram Hill Archaeology Project

The Ram Hill colliery in Coalpit Heath South Gloucestershire was once the hub of 19th century coal mining in Westerleigh parish. It was the terminus of the dramway, which was built in 1828 and was probably the last railway in England designed to use horses as a means of locomotion (the Rainhill trials the following year heralded the use of steam).
It is a mystery why the dramway ended here. A number of plans exist showing the proposed route of the dramway, but none showed it ending up at Ram Hill. This conundrum, and others, are revealed in a new study.

The fact that the site survives at all is a fluke. The Great Western Railway bought the area for its new direct route from South Wales to London. In the end the cutting stopped just north of the site. The mine lay forgotten until 1981 when a local archaeologist, John Cornwell, rediscovered it. Then the high unemployment of the 1980s led to a number of job creation schemes, one of which was to carry out comprehensive work at the site. This took place in 1987, but funds ran out and it was never completed.

Then a Bristol University MA student, Bridget Hetzel, embarked on a study there and volunteers came in to help clear the site. The results have been spectacular: it has already been cleared of recent growth and we will be removing two spoil heaps which were formed during earlier excavations. This will expose more of the dramway, hopefully including the boiler house for the steam engine.

Preserving the site
We are well on the way to securing the long-term management of the site. We hope to maintain a balance between archaeology and ecology by maintaining it as a grassed area.

Interpretation Panel
A new interpretation panel has been installed on the site.

Geophysical survey
A geophysical survey at Ram Hill Colliery has revealed clear traces of a reservoir in the northern corner of the site. The method of remote sensing was restivity, which had not been expected to give good results due to the nature of the ground. It was carried out for the Friends of Ram Hill Colliery by local enthusiasts Sagascan. The results will be used to inform those conserving the site.


 Comments [Hide comments/form]

valid xhtml 1.0 Transitionalvalid xhtml 1.0 Transitional
CBA, St Mary's House, 66 Bootham, York YO30 7BZ.
tel: +(44) (0)1904 671417 | fax: +(44) (0)1904 671384 | email:
valid cssvalid css