Ancient Monuments

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Smithy Beck prehistoric cairnfield, charcoal burning sites, a bloomery and associated earthworks 1.97km WNW of Low Gillerthwaite

A Scheduled Monument in Ennerdale and Kinniside, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.5206 / 54°31'14"N

Longitude: -3.3595 / 3°21'34"W

OS Eastings: 312098.281968

OS Northings: 514769.289978

OS Grid: NY120147

Mapcode National: GBR 4JZ5.G8

Mapcode Global: WH70H.CMGT

Entry Name: Smithy Beck prehistoric cairnfield, charcoal burning sites, a bloomery and associated earthworks 1.97km WNW of Low Gillerthwaite

Scheduled Date: 3 October 1962

Last Amended: 5 April 2013

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007235

English Heritage Legacy ID: CU 76

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Ennerdale and Kinniside

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Lamplugh St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


A prehistoric cairnfield and a late medieval/early post-medieval iron working site with associated earthworks immediately north of Ennerdale Water at Smithy and Dry Becks.

Source: Historic England


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of a small prehistoric cairnfield, up to six charcoal burning sites, a bloomery considered to be of late medieval or early post-medieval date, and a series of enclosures, structures and a hollow way associated with the bloomery together with the archaeologically sensitive ground between all these features. They are located 1.97km WNW of Low Gillerthwaite immediately north of Ennerdale Water; the cairnfield and charcoal pits lie between Dry Beck and Smithy Beck, the bloomery and associated features lie to the east of Smithy Beck.

The prehistoric cairnfield includes over 20 oval-shaped cairns up to 1m high and between 1.9m-6.7m long by 1.6m-6.6m wide. Within the cairnfield there are a small number of stone banks which appear to define the course of a short length of hollow way.

Four of the charcoal burning sites are located to the north of the cairnfield, one is located to the east and one within the cairnfield. They are typically earthen platforms or hollows cut into the slope with a prominent apron extending out from the slope, and were created in order to erect a timber pyramid which was burnt to produce charcoal for use in the iron smelting process.

The late medieval/early post-medieval bloomery adjacent to the valley-bottom road displays evidence of multiple phases of use and consists of an artificially raised flat platform constructed of bloomery waste bounded on the south side by a low bank of the same material. Upon the platform there is another raised platform, sub-circular in shape, with a hollowed centre which appears to have been the site of the latest furnace. The sheer volume of bloomery waste suggests that other furnace sites currently lie buried beneath the waste. Geophysical survey undertaken in 2000 identified the likely location of three separate furnaces here.

Some 140m to the north-west, amongst the cairnfield, geophysical survey recorded a hollow 3m in diameter and 0.5m deep that has been interpreted as a rare example of a medieval charcoal pit, attesting to a phase of charcoal production contemporary with the bloomery and earlier than the nearby charcoal pitsteads.

A short distance to the north of the bloomery, and possibly originally connected by a now fragmented stone bank, are a group of earthwork features at the centre of which is a prominent but disturbed stone mound considered to be the remains of a building. There are the remains of another building a short distance to the east with a small enclosure separating the two structures. Immediately to the north there are three sides of a large enclosure and slightly further north there are the well-defined earthworks of hollow ways running uphill alongside Smithy Beck before merging with a modern forestry track that leads to a hut settlement that is the subject of another scheduling. The hollow ways may have served as transportation routes for iron ore to be processed at the bloomery and/or stock movement routes. Their depth and spread of routes indicates a sustained and intensive period of use.

Extent of Scheduling
The scheduling includes the upstanding and buried remains of the prehistoric cairnfield, the charcoal burning platforms, the bloomery and its associated earthwork features, together with the archaeologically sensitive ground between all these features as surveyed by Lancaster University Archaeological Unit between 1995-1997. The boundary of protection runs along the north shore of Ennerdale Water on the monument's south side, continues upstream along the east bank of Dry Beck on the monument's west side as far as a timber footbridge, then follows the south side of a way marked footpath and a timber footbridge over Smithy Beck. It then runs upstream along the east bank of Smithy Beck prior to running east, 10m beyond the northern edge of the hollow ways, to the west side of a forestry road. It then completes a circuit of the monument by continuing downhill along the west side of the forestry road on the monument's east side prior to following the west side of a footpath before projecting across the valley-bottom road to the lake shore.

A footbridge over Smithy Beck, the valley-bottom bridge over Smithy Beck and the surface of the valley-bottom road are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath the valley-bottom road and bridge is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Smithy Beck prehistoric cairnfield, charcoal burning sites, a bloomery and associated earthworks 1.97km WNW of Low Gillerthwaite are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: they survive well and contain a wide range of features;
* Potential: the relatively undisturbed nature of the monument increases the likelihood for the survival of artefactual and environmental evidence;
* Group value: the monument is associated with other contemporary and non-contemporary monuments in the Ennerdale Valley;
* Documentation: our understanding of cairnfield and the late medieval/early post-medieval iron workings and their contribution to our understanding of settlement in Ennerdale is significantly enhanced by the archaeological surveys undertaken here between 1995-97 and the geophysical survey undertaken in 2000.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crew, P, 'Cumbria 2000' in Cumbria 2000: Geophysical Surveys of the Ironworking Sites in the Lake District National Park, (2000)
Lancaster University Archaeological Unit, Ennerdale Forest, Cumbria. Archaeological Survey. Final Report, March 1998,
Oxford Archaeology North, Ennerdale, West Cumbria. Historic Landscape Survey, November 2003,

Source: Historic England

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