Medieval farmstead, bloomery, charcoal pits and late prehistoric settlement at Pasture Foot, 300m west of Bleabeck Force


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019095

Date first listed: 24-Nov-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval farmstead, bloomery, charcoal pits and late prehistoric settlement at Pasture Foot, 300m west of Bleabeck Force
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1019095 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 24-Oct-2018 at 05:36:21.


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

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lunedale

National Grid Reference: NY 87206 27985


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have evolved gradually during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Northern Pennines sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area characterised from the Middle Ages by dispersed settlements, with some nucleations in more favoured areas. The sub-Province is formed by discontinuous high moorland landscapes; agricultural settlement has been episodic, in response to the economic fortunes of adjacent sub-Provinces. Other settlements have been associated with the extraction of stone and other minerals.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed setlement in an area, ususally a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single, or principal, nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region, but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include roads and other 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 clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlements frequently include features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and Northern and Western Province of England. They are found in upland and also some lowland areas. Where found, their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. 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 larger scale process and charcoal was made in larger quantities, on platforms. Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. Most date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). The stone based round houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; the remains of the turf, thatch or heather roofs are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth or stone. Frequently, traces of their associated field systems may be found immediately around them. These may be indicated by areas of clearance cairns and/or the remains of field walls and other enclosures. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their relationship with other monument types provide important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples is considered worthy of protection. The medieval farmstead is one of two such farmsteads at Pasture Foot, and forms part of a pattern of dispersed medieval settlement in Upper Teesdale comprising both isolated farmsteads and small hamlets. This farmstead survives well and will contribute to the sum of understanding of medieval settlement in the North Pennines. This part of Upper Teesdale is particularly rich in in evidence for early iron smelting, and the bloomery is one of several in the area. A large number of these bloomeries are close to settlement remains, which may indicate that settlement and bloomery were in use at the same time. This bloomery survives well and with its associated charcoal pits will make a significant contribution to the study of the early iron industry. The late prehistoric hut circle settlement is one of several in Upper Teesdale. Those for which reliable dates are available range from about 1600 BC to about AD 200. Though not yet precisely dated, this stone hut circle settlement survives well and provides important evidence of settlement in later prehistory. The existence of both prehistoric and medieval remains on this site may indicate a continuity of use over a long period, which may have important implications in the study of upland settlement and land use.


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


The monument includes a medieval farmstead, a bloomery, five charcoal pits and a late prehistoric stone hut circle settlement. It is situated on the south side of the Tees, at Pasture Foot, opposite Force Garth Quarry. The medieval farmstead consists of the remains of a rectangular building 16m long and 8m wide, connected to a circular stone cairn by a short length of boulder walling. North of the building is another length of walling at the edge of a long rectangular platform on a slight rise. This may be the remains of a second building from which stone has been robbed in the past. The bloomery is represented by a crescent-shaped heap of iron slag on the river bank. South of this is an area with a spread of charcoal and other burnt material, within which is a small stony mound and a slight dip. These are interpreted as the site of the bloomery furnace. There are five charcoal pits in the area of the bloomery. They are spread across an area extending from about 100m west of the bloomery to about 30m east of it. They are all within 30m of the river bank, and consist of small circular hollows with associated charcoal. The late prehistoric stone hut circle settlement includes at least six hut circles, 5m-6m in diameter. Two of these are just to the east of the medieval farmstead and are associated with a short length of boulder wall. The remainder are ranged around a small enclosure west of the farmstead. There are also a number of short lengths of rubble wall, and two small rectangular structures in this part of the monument. The latter are interpreted as medieval structures associated with the farmstead. South of the group of hut circles is a sike (a naturally formed drainage channel) with a small island. On this island is a boulder-walled enclosure. South of the sike, below Whiteholm Scar, is a series of further enclosures, some of which have been reused to make a sheep shelter.

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: 33482

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, , Vol. 150, (1986), 112
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 112
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), 144

End of official listing