Ancient Monuments

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Scowles in Dingle Wood 560m north west of Scowles Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Coleford, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7993 / 51°47'57"N

Longitude: -2.6416 / 2°38'29"W

OS Eastings: 355848.748489

OS Northings: 211382.697747

OS Grid: SO558113

Mapcode National: GBR FP.XTLD

Mapcode Global: VH872.51BG

Entry Name: Scowles in Dingle Wood 560m north west of Scowles Farm

Scheduled Date: 8 June 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016901

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28866

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Coleford

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire


The monument includes an area of open cast iron ore mining in the Forest of
Dean, on an east facing slope about 1.5km south east of Staunton. The area is
characterised by the remains of surface extraction or excavation holes which
are known locally as scowles. The scowles represent surface workings which
followed the ore bearing seams. It is not known precisely how the scowles were
worked, and indeed, a number of different shapes of scowles exist which would
indicate different methods of working either at different times or
contemporaneously. Some of the larger crevaces left suggest that rock was
removed together with the ore bearing material, although the smaller workings
suggest that only the ore was taken. The precise date of the scowles in Dingle
Wood is not yet clear, but by the end of the 17th century below ground mining
of ore, which had co-existed with surface working since at least the Romano-
British period, had become the normal method of extraction in the Forest of
Dean. Thus the scowles can be confidently placed in date before the end of the
17th century.
In this monument the scowles are on a massive scale. They run into each other
and form a complete landscape so that it is difficult to ascertain the
original ground surface. Much limestone is exposed forming some large rock
faces up to 5m high.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

From at least the Roman period until the 18th century the Forest of Dean was
an important production centre for iron. The iron ore bearing strata between
Lydney and Staunton are likely to have been exploited since the Iron Age, and
the crease limestone to the south of Staunton has been identified as a likely
source of iron ore supplying the iron industry at Blestium (the modern
Monmouth) during the Roman period. It was almost certainly being exploited
again by the end of the 13th century. The below ground mining of iron ore is
considered to have become the dominant method of extraction by the end of the
17th century. Thus although it is impossible to accurately date the scowles on
the basis of present evidence, it is probable that they were in existence by
the beginning of the 17th century, and are likely to be earlier in origin.
Although iron ores occur, and have been worked to some degree, in almost every
county of England, national iron production was dominated in the Roman,
medieval and earlier post-medieval periods by two orefields: the Weald and the
Forest of Dean. The major field remains of the industry in these two areas are
therefore of considerable importance. They are a distinctive feature of the
Forest of Dean, and the term scowl is believed to be unique to this area. This
type of surface working following ore bearing strata is very rare elsewhere,
although a few, broadly similar, features are thought to exist in South Wales
and north Lancashire. The Forest of Dean scowles therefore have a particular
importance as the main representatives of early open cast iron ore mining.
The scowles in Dingle Wood are distinctive in that they form a complete
landscape on a massive scale. Scowles run into each other with the limestone
faces exposed rising to 5m high.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hoyle, J, Western Stowfield Quarry, Staunton, Gloucestershire Arch Assess, (1992), 2

Source: Historic England

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