The Cianese lime kiln was built at the end of the 19th century. Lime was produced there for the masonry mortars of the great works of civil and military engineering undertaken at that time by the Italian authorities.
The construction, although damaged, is still complete enough for its old operation to be readable.
This type of vertical industrial continuous loading furnace, with slender frustoconical shape, was fed by its high opening, “le gueulard”. La Brigue’s kiln, which is extended over the loading platform of a slightly smaller chimney, has two filling openings (east and west). The wooden platform was accessible by a ramp in the rocky slope at the back of the kiln. The structure was installed inside a large brick building.
The inner wall of the furnace is coated with refractory bricks. The heaters (lime kiln workers) filled it alternately with layers of broken limestone and combustible materials (coal or wood). The fire was lit at the bottom of the oven with wood and the combustion was spreading upwards. The alternation of layers allowed the entire limestone to be in direct contact with the heat source. The temperature was to be maintained between 800 ° C and 1000 ° C.
The lime produced by combustion of the limestone was recovered by a low opening, l’ébraisoir.
The limestone and combustible replenishment was continuous to keep the load, because the combustion requires a regular draw, neither too fast nor too slow.
The average duration of combustion was three days. Heavy rains could seriously disturb the operation by falling into the furnace, perhaps the reason of the presence of a higher narrower opening chimney than the “gueulard”.
The produced quicklime was quenched in a pit, which required a large amount of water, hence the position of the furnace near the river, which fed the pit from an upstream catchment. The slaked lime could then be used for the manufacture of mortars and whitewashes.
The quarry of Cianèse was a very old limestone extraction site, since geologists have identified this Jurassic rock carved and erected on the chains of angles and decorations of the Saint-Martin collegiate church (late 15th century). The excavations of this old artisanal exploitation are visible along D 43 road on the right bank of Levenza river facing the old lime kiln.