Carriden Estate Sawmill

As the timber on the Carriden estate matured it was decided to construct a water-powered sawmill onto the west side of the stable block.  The location was chosen for the ease with which water could be supplied from a dam constructed across the Muirhouses burn and the lade closely followed a Roman predecessor which led to a bathhouse for the adjacent Roman fort.  Remains of that bathhouse were encountered during the original excavation of the wheel pit in the 1850s.

Illus 1: Carriden Mill under Archaeological Excavation in 2006 looking north with the wheel pit on the right and the iron plates from the saw bench on the left. The trough taking water to the wheel is in the foreground with steps down to the wheel to its left.

The dam on the Muirhouses Burn created a pond in the steep sided valley and a second reservoir was added to the east to provide supplementary water.  The damhead was replaced in concrete sometime around 1920 and the mill continued in operation until the Second World War.  Thereafter it was abandoned and the building slowly decayed.  The roof was still present in 1978 but collapsed shortly thereafter.

The wheel was of 16ft diameter; the outer circumference made up of cast iron panels bolted together.  Slots on the inside of the panels took the timber paddles, strengthened by steel tie-bars.  The axle sat in cast iron bushes with that on the west resting on an inspection path accessed by a steep stone stair.  The pit had been floored over and part of the travelling saw bench sat on it.  This bench continued on to the solid ground to the north.  Originally it was driven directly from gearing, but latterly it was through a secondary pit to the west which housed a static circular saw.

Illus 2: Carriden Mill with the saw pit in the foreground, the travelling saw bench to the back left and the water wheel back right. Looking east.

Sites and Monuments Record

Carriden Estate SawmillSMR 1370NT 0233 8076

G.B. Bailey, 2022