Keys to the Past

Glossary

Bellpit; Bell pit

A vertical shaft is dug down into the ground. When it reached the seam or stone to be extracted is reached the miners would start to working outwards along the seam. The materials would be raised by a whim, (like a gin-gang), often in baskets. Eventually, it would become too dangerous to mine further as the risk of collapse was too great. In cross-section these pits would look like a bell. These were mainly used in the Medieval and Post-Medieval periods. From the 18th century lined shafts were used. These have only slight spoil heaps, as they were usually short time sites. Bell pits were still used around Ford around World War I, (Northumberland). The access in and out for the miners was by climbing the side of the shaft or by climbing a metal chain.

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