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


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017121

Date first listed: 14-Dec-1999


Ordnance survey map of Roman period native settlement, medieval bloomery, building and track, and a charcoal pit at Keld Smithy Green, Holwick Fell
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Holwick

National Grid Reference: NY 88948 26805


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 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.


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


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 upcast.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 33487

Legacy System: RSM


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

End of official listing