The Charlestown Limekilns


The limeworks at Charlestown were developed in the 18th century by Charles, 5th Earl of Elgin. The limekilns complex, with its impressive bank of 14 kilns, was the largest of its kind in Scotland, and played a key role in the industrialisation process by supplying quicklime for both agriculture and construction. The harbour was specifically built to allow ships to get as close as possible to the kilns, so that product could be shipped out to the east coast of Scotland and further afield.

The kilns were built in two phases, with the first nine constructed in 1777 and a further five in 1792. Built from sandstone, their large tunnel openings give access to side drawholes that serve the kiln shafts. These drawholes controlled airflow to regulate the the rate of burning and allow quicklime to be drawn out of the kiln.  

This project will clear encroaching vegetation and consolidate the structure to ensure this vital piece of built heritage is preserved for the future.

The Limekilns and Charlestown Harbour, 1882. Photo: HES.

The Limekilns before conservation work began.


Project Timeline
2014 - 2016
OS Reference
IFLI Reference

  Project Location