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Roman period native settlement, medieval bloomery, building and track, and a charcoal pit at Keld Smithy Green, Holwick Fell

A Scheduled Monument in Holwick, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.6362 / 54°38'10"N

Longitude: -2.1728 / 2°10'22"W

OS Eastings: 388943.303116

OS Northings: 526799.838592

OS Grid: NY889267

Mapcode National: GBR FG8T.DT

Mapcode Global: WHB3W.LQKP

Entry Name: Roman period native settlement, medieval bloomery, building and track, and a charcoal pit at Keld Smithy Green, Holwick Fell

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017121

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33487

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Holwick

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham


The monument includes a Roman period native settlement, a medieval bloomery,
building and track, and a charcoal making pit, at Keld Smithy Green, on
Holwick Fell.
The settlement consists of an irregularly shaped enclosure, three hut circles,
at least two small clearance cairns, and a short length of rubble bank. The
enclosure walls are heather covered rubble banks up to 2.5m wide and 0.6m
high. The three hut circles are between 6m and 8m in diameter, with rubble
walls up to 2m wide and 0.6m high. All three hut circles are attached to the
rubble bank forming the north side of the enclosure. Two small clearance
cairns about 4m in diameter lie east of the enclosure, near a line of stone
grouse butts, and a short stretch of rubble bank is visible as a stony crest
east of the grouse butts.
The medieval bloomery is visible as a conspicuous grass covered heap of iron
slag about 9m in diameter and 1m high.
The medieval building survives as low rubble walls 1.5m wide and 0.5m high,
forming a rectangle 5m by 7m. A sunken track leads from the building towards
the bloomery.
The charcoal making pit is about 120m ESE of the bloomery. It is visible as a
hollow, 2m in diameter and 0.2m deep, with an overgrown ring of spoil 1.5m
wide round the hollow. Charcoal can be seen in and around the pit, in animal

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

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements
dating to the Roman period have been identified. The majority were small, non-
defensive, enclosed homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone
construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also
common. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures
were curvilinear in form. Further south a rectangular form was more common.
Elsewhere, especially near the Scottish border, another type occurs where the
settlement enclosure was `scooped' into the hillslope. Frequently the
enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard
layout included one or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of
the enclosure, facing the single entranceway. In front of the houses were
pathways and small enclosed yards. Homesteads normally had only one or two
houses, but larger enclosures could contain as many as six. At some sites the
settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main
enclosure and clustered around it. At these sites up to 30 houses may be
found. In the Cumbrian uplands the settlements were of less regimented form
and unenclosed clusters of houses of broadly contemporary date are also known.
These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman natives
throughout the period of the Roman occupation. Their origins lie in settlement
forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. These homesteads are common
throughout the uplands where they frequently survive as well-preserved
earthworks. In lowland coastal areas they were also originally common,
although there they can frequently only be located through aerial photography.
All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be
identified as nationally important.

Primitive iron smelting sites can date from the Iron Age to the end of the
medieval period (500 BC-AD 1500). The evidence for early iron smelting often
consists of a heap of iron rich slag. Medieval iron smelting sites are
frequently found near streams and are known as bloomeries. In the bloomeries
iron ore was fired to about 1200 degrees Centigrade, using charcoal as fuel.
This caused a chemical reaction, producing a mass of iron called a bloom,
which was then hammered to remove any residual slag. Bloomeries were usually
located close to a source of wood for charcoal making. The charcoal used in
bloomeries was made by burning wood with a limited supply of air. This was
done by stacking the wood either in a pit or on a platform, and by limiting
the air supply by covering the stack with earth and turf. Until about 1450
charcoal was made in pits; around that time charcoal making evolved into a
large scale process and charcoal was made in larger quantities, on platforms.
The Roman period native settlement survives well, and it is one of several
Romano-British settlements in Upper Teesdale. Their form and distribution will
add to the sum of knowledge relating to Romano-British settlement and land use
in upland areas.
The medieval bloomery and charcoal pit form an important part of the medieval
iron industry in the area and will make a significant contribution to the
study of medieval iron working. The medieval building and track represent an
occupation site which is directly associated with the bloomery.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, (1986), 104
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, (1986), 144

Source: Historic England

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