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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

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

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

List entry Number: 1017124

Location

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

County:

District: County Durham

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Forest and Frith

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Dec-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: 33490

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.

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.

History

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

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.

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, , 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)

National Grid Reference: NY 87828 28526

Map

Map
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End of official listing