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Roman period native settlement and a bloomery 160m north west of Bleabeck Force

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Roman period native settlement and a bloomery 160m north west of Bleabeck Force

List entry Number: 1017120


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: County Durham

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Holwick

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 24-Nov-1999

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 33485

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 or turf. Until about 1450 charcoal was made in pits; around that time charcoal-making evolved into a larger scale process and charcoal was made in larger quantities, on platforms. The Roman period native settlement between Bleabeck Force and the Tees survives well, and it is one of several Romano-British settlements in Upper Teesdale. Their form and distribution will add to knowledge relating to Romano-British settlement and land use in upland areas. The bloomery also survives well, and will make a significant contribution to the study of the early iron industry in Upper Teesdale.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a Roman period native settlement and a bloomery iron smelting site at Bleabeck Foot in Upper Teesdale. The Roman period native settlement is situated on the steep slope south of the Pennine Way, on the east side of Bleabeck and the wall known as Fell Dike. The settlement consists of a rubble-banked enclosure, containing three hut circles, and two additional hut circles which lie outside the enclosure, on flatter ground between the enclosure and Fell Dike. Also included in the monument is a curving stretch of rubble-bank on steep ground south west of the settlement enclosure. The enclosure measures 23m in diameter. The walls are stony banks, up to 2m wide and 0.6m high, incorporating several large boulders. The hut circles within are each 7m in diameter and have rubble-bank walls up to 2m wide and 0.6m high. The two hut circles outside are visible as circular level areas with a stony crest on the uphill side. The curving stretch of rubble-bank is up to 2m wide and 0.6m high, and appears to be slighted by a later track. The bloomery is 8m ENE of Bleabeck Force, on a steep slope south of the settlement. The bloomery is visible as a spread of iron slag below the natural terrace, indicating that the bloomery hearth was on the terrace. The hearth will survive as buried remains below the ground surface.

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

Selected 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, (1986), 84
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, (1986), 142

National Grid Reference: NY 87462 27961


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This copy shows the entry on 25-Sep-2018 at 06:06:21.

End of official listing