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Roman period native settlements and field system, hut circle, bloomeries, lead smelting site and charcoal pits immediately south east of East Force Garth

A Scheduled Monument in Forest and Frith, County Durham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.6517 / 54°39'6"N

Longitude: -2.1904 / 2°11'25"W

OS Eastings: 387811.819276

OS Northings: 528529.733951

OS Grid: NY878285

Mapcode National: GBR FG4N.L8

Mapcode Global: WHB3W.BB6R

Entry Name: Roman period native settlements and field system, hut circle, bloomeries, lead smelting site and charcoal pits immediately south east of East Force Garth

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017124

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33490

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Forest and Frith

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Forest and Frith

Church of England Diocese: Durham

Details

The monument includes two Roman period native settlements within a
contemporary field system, a hut circle, three bloomery iron smelting sites, a
lead smelting site and at least four charcoal pits. It is situated at Force
Garth, in Upper Teesdale.
The more northerly of the two Roman period native settlements is visible as a
rubble banked enclosure at a bend in Smithy Sike. Within the enclosure are the
remains of a complex of circular, oval and rectangular buildings, forming an
`L'-shape. Two hut circles outside the enclosure on its north side are partly
obscured by stone dumped in 1945. The settlement was partly excavated in 1972-
1974 by D Coggins and K Fairless. Finds from the excavation include animal
bone, spindle whorls, coarse pottery and quernstone fragments. Charcoal
from the excavation was radio-carbon dated to about the 1st century AD.
The southern of the two Roman period native settlements is south of Smithy
Sike. It occupies a large artificial scoop in the hillside, enclosed by a
rubble bank. Inside this enclosure are five small scoops, each about 7m in
diameter. Excavation has shown that they are the sites of hut circles. Finds
from the excavations included spindle whorls, saddle and rotary querns, and
pottery, including some Roman Samian ware.
The field system lies south and east of East Force Garth, extending from Force
Garth Quarry to Hag Sike. It consists of a mixture of rubble banked irregular
fields on very stony ground, and slightly more regular, sub-rectangular,
lyncheted fields on land more amenable to ploughing. The field system also
incorporates a number of possible trackways. An isolated hut circle lies
within the field system, north of the access track to East Force Garth farm.
This hut circle is visible as a circular level area with a slight stony bank
round it. It measures about 7m in diameter.
The three bloomeries are visible as grassed over heaps of iron slag. These are
dispersed across the area: one on the south side of Smithy Sike about 70m east
of the northern Roman period settlement, one on the south side of Smithy Sike,
south east of the quarry access road, and one on the north side of Hag Sike,
also south east of the quarry access road. At the first of the above sites,
the slag heap survives as an approximately oval bank of slag. This is the
remains of a large heap of slag, most of which has been removed in the past.
South of this slag heap is an area where charcoal and slag can be seen in
molehills. The second site has a smaller heap of slag about 5m in diameter,
surviving to a height of 0.6m. This has a levelled area on its south side, in
which the bloomery hearth may have been situated. The third site has a slag
heap 10m by 8m, and 1m high, which underlies a derelict wall.
The lead smelting site is about 5m south east of the second of the bloomeries
described above and visible as a hollow 7m in diameter, lined with lead slag.
The four charcoal pits are visible as hollows about 2m in diameter, varying in
depth from 0.1m to about 0.4m. In each case, charcoal rich soil can be seen
close to the pit. Six additional sites where visible charcoal is not
accompanied by a discernible hollow may also be the sites of charcoal pits.
A derelict field wall where it overlies the more northerly Roman native
settlement is included within the scheduling. Another derelict field wall
which overlies the bloomery at Hag Sike is also included in the scheduling.
All other modern walls, fences, and the surfacing of tracks and of the access
road to the quarry, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Prehistoric field systems in the north of England take a variety of forms.
Regular and irregular types of prehistoric field system are widespread
throughout the Pennine Range. Large scale field systems with long, parallel,
rubble banks are particularly typical of the North Pennines. There are also
systems composed of small irregular fields with curving banks. The dating of
these is often uncertain, but they are considered to date from the Bronze Age
or Iron Age (2500-50 BC). An additional type of field system with small,
rectangular, rubble banked or lynchetted fields is considered to be later,
usually dating from the Iron Age or Roman period (500 BC-AD 400). Closer
dating of all types of field system may be provided by their relationships to
other classes of monument which were in use for shorter, known, periods of
time. 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 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.
Medieval lead smelters include a range of features known from field or
documentary evidence. The commonest type is the bole or bale, a windblown
smelting fire located on an exposed hilltop or crest. The bole or bale and
associated features were in use from at least the 12th to the late 16th
centuries. They are important as the main form of medieval lead smelting
technology. It is known that other types of lead smelter were used in the
medieval period. There is documentary evidence for smelter types known as the
`furnace' in Devon and the Mendips, `hutt' in Devon, and `smelt mill' in North
Yorkshire. There is also field evidence for an enclosed smelting furnace (from
the Isle of Man) and a range of sites identified by scatters of slag (from
County Durham). These field site types cannot yet be fully correlated to the
document site types, and are a priority for future research. Due to their
rarity, all non-bale medieval lead smelting sites retaining informative slag
distributions, intact tips, or visible structural or earthwork features are
considered to merit protection.
The Roman period native settlements, the associated field system and the hut
circle at Force Garth survive well. Together, they form part of a pattern of
Romano-British settlement 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 and charcoal making.
The medieval lead smelting site survives well. Its form and position are not
typical of a bale type smelting site; it will therefore retain important
information on non-bale lead smelting sites of the medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 176
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 45-46
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 145
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 145
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 44
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 145
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 144
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 97
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 97
Coggins, D, Fairless, K, 'Durham Archaeological Journal' in Excavations of the Early Settlement at Forcegarth South, , Vol. 2, (1986), 25-40
Fairless, K, Coggins, D, 'Transactions of the Arch and Arch of Durham and Northumberland' in Excavation of the Early Settlement of Forcegarth Pasture North, , Vol. 5, (1980), 31-38
Other
Site Management Details [12], Fairless K, AM 107, (1986)

Source: Historic England

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