Smithy Beck settlement 1.10km north-west of Low Gillerthwaite


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Smithy Beck settlement 1.10km north-west of Low Gillerthwaite, either side of Clewes Gill at NY1318614938.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Smithy Beck settlement 1.10km north-west of Low Gillerthwaite, either side of Clewes Gill at NY1318614938.
Copeland (District Authority)
Ennerdale and Kinniside
National Park:
National Grid Reference:


Four medieval or early post-medieval buildings and the archaeologically sensitive ground between them at Smithy Beck, located either side of that part of the Beck known locally as Clewes Gill.

Reasons for Designation

Smithy Beck settlement 1.10km north-west of Low Gillerthwaite is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: the buildings comprising the settlement survive well and contain a range of features; * Potential: despite being located within forestry the relatively undisturbed nature of this monument increases the potential survival of artefactual evidence. Additionally the settlement has the potential for increasing our understanding of medieval settlement in the Ennerdale Valley; * Group value: the settlement appears to be associated with other contemporary medieval monuments within the Ennerdale Valley; * Documentation: our understanding of this settlement and its contribution to settlement in the Ennerdale Valley is significantly enhanced by the archaeological surveys undertaken in 1995-97 and in 2003.


Medieval settlements are richly diverse in form, character and date and can range from peasant houses and single farms to hamlets and affluent large villages. This area of Cumbria is characterised by dispersed hamlets and farmsteads, but with some larger nucleated settlements in well-defined agriculturally favoured areas, established after the Norman Conquest. Traces of seasonal settlements or shielings, dominate the high, wet and windy uplands, where surrounding communities grazed their livestock during the summer months. Settlement is sparse, but villages and hamlets occasionally appear in the valleys. Higher up, above the medieval fields enclosed by stone walls known as head-dykes, are traces of medieval settlements in farmlands since abandoned. Dispersed settlements vary enormously but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features may include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may still be visible.

In 1925-6 the Forestry Commission began manual tree planting on almost 3640ha of land in Ennerdale. In 1962/3 the south-eastern of these buildings was partially excavated. The medieval settlement remains here were scheduled in November 1972 in recognition of their importance - as Cumbria 383, Settlement on Bank of Smithy Beck.

Smithy Beck settlement 1.10km NW of Low Gillerthwaite forms part of a multi-period historic landscape which represents long-term management and exploitation of the Ennerdale Valley from the Bronze Age to the present day. It was recorded during archaeological surveys of the valley between 1995-7 and in 2003.


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of four rectangular buildings forming that part of Smithy Beck settlement centred at NY13191493 together with the archaeologically sensitive ground between the buildings. It is located on either side of Clewes Gill immediately to the north of Smithy Beck.

All four buildings are double-walled. The buildings and their surrounding walls and enclosures stand up to 0.7m high and vary between 10.1m-19.1m long by 6.7m-9.5m wide. The south eastern of the four buildings was partially excavated in 1962/3 and the results suggested an extended period of use and redesign. An initial occupation phase comprised a building with a large external wall which closely followed the shape of the internal wall, except to the south where it formed an extended apsidal end. This end was subsequently partitioned off by an internal wall. It is thought that the main cell was used for accommodation and the apsidal end for storage. On the west side of the building is a dry-stone walled porch which had been added later. The latest occupation phase saw the main cell partitioned into two halves, the northern half being the largest, with a hearth in the east wall and a raised platform to the north for a bed space. The southern half was smaller and was paved with granophyre slabs. A hearth was found against the southern wall and it contained a substantial amount of pottery both here and under the paving. The pottery was dated to the late medieval and early post-medieval periods. Partial excavation of another double-walled building in that part of Smithy Beck settlement centred at NY12751496 found a single dateable object - a fragment of wine bottle dated between 1650 and 1740. All the buildings in the Smithy Beck settlements have been tentatively identified as miner's long houses occupied in the late medieval/early post-medieval period and are thought to have been associated with the Smithy Beck bloomery and its associated earthworks located a short distance down the hillside.

Extent of Scheduling The scheduling includes the upstanding and buried remains of four medieval/early post-medieval buildings forming that part of the Smithy Beck settlement 1.10km north west of Low Gillerthwaite together with the archaeologically sensitive ground between the buildings as surveyed by Lancaster University Archaeological Unit between 1995-1997. The boundary of protection runs 10m east of the easternmost building on the monument's east side, follows the south side of the footpath on the monument's north side, runs 10m west of the westernmost building on the monument's west side and completes a circuit of the monument by running along the north bank of Smithy Beck on the monument's south side.

A post-medieval sheepwash is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included. Clewes Gill is excluded from the scheduling.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
CU 383
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Fletcher, W, Fell, C, 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society' in Stone-Based Huts and Other Structures at Smithy Beck, Ennerdale, (1987)
Lancaster University Archaeological Unit, Ennerdale Forest, Cumbria. Archaeological Survey. Final Report, March 1998,
Oxford Archaeology North, Ennerdale, West Cumbria. Historic Landscape Survey, November 2003,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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