Limekiln

Limestone was being quarried in Applecross as early as 1792, probably for building. Although the value of liming fields to improve fertility had been known in Scotland since 1730, there was no economic way of converting the local limestone from rock to a powder fine enough to be spread on the fields.

 The fields were improved by spreading seaweed and shelly sand, and by 1845 lime was being bought from the limekiln at Broadford on Skye. But It is probably the arrival of coal that made the local production of lime affordable. This lime kiln, the only one in Applecross, was built beside the existing quarry some time after 1875 and may only have been used regularly for a few decades.

The complex includes the kiln itself, a circular bowl which was loaded, or charged, from above, with alternating layers of coal and limestone from the quarry. The kiln is built into the hillside so that a cart could be driven up to the top of the kiln bowl for  loading. The entrance at the front of the kiln is the draw arch, which was used to control the flow of air during burning and to rake out the quicklime after three days of burning and two days of cooling. Traces of burning and vitrification, the melting of rock under extreme temperatures, can still be seen on the inside face of the bowl. A different stone, sandstone, was used for the kiln so that this would not also burn, although the facade is quarried limestone.

The quicklime reacts with water, so it was important to store it in the dry until it was needed. The adjacent, now roofless, shed was the store. When the powdered quicklime was spread on the fields it reverted to the inert calcium carbonate.

The results of liming can still be seen in the lush grass of the improved fields around the Home farm,

Further information on the limekiln can be found in the downloads section.

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