MSO7157 - Post-medieval or earlier smelting site at Bridgetown (Monument)


An iron charcoal bloom found during ploughing suggests iron smelting occurred near the settlement. There may be more than one site of activity present, dating to the early post-medieval period, medieval or even Roman periods.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

At Bridgetown (SS 924332 - Ordnance Survey 6 inch map, 1962 [1]) an iron charcoal bloom was found during ploughing circa 1862. This would result from charcoal smelting, which was almost extinct before 1775. Sellick notes that the charcoal bloom found at Bridgetown indicates a "bloom-smithy (where the iron was extracted directly from the ore in a malleable state), a process which though on the wane, was still in use in the 16th and 17th centuries" [2]. Iron smelting sites tended to be located close to the source of iron ore [3]. This suggests that the iron ore reserves to the north of Bridgetown, at Ison Mine, and to the west of Bridgetown in the Brendons, although well documented in the 19th century [2], may well have been exploited earlier than this. [3] A smelting site on the edge of the village of Bridgetown, in the valley of the river Exe, has recently been located. This is a disturbed deposit of slag, which is morphologically similar to the slag assemblages seen at New Invention and Shircombe Slade in the Barle valley. In terms of ore sources, this site may relate to the exploitation of ores in the Ison and Oldrey area or it may relate to unknown mining activity closer to the site. [4] The information in [1-4] may suggest that there are at least two sites or types of activity taking place at Bridgetown, dating to the early post-medieval period or before (perhaps medieval or possibly even Roman). N.B. The record is currently mapped in a small area around SS 9239 3320. Bray recalls visiting a site during the project with Juleff on the other side of the river, suggesting the current mapping does not cover the whole area of the site(s), if it is correct. The mapping has therefore been edited to show a point on the other side of the river but it should be borne in mind that there could be evidence for the site(s) across the settlement. [5,6] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Monograph: Sellick, R.. 1970. The West Somerset Mineral Railway and the Story of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines. David and Charles Limited. Second. 11, 13.
  • <3> Report: Juleff, G.. 1997. Earlier Iron-Working on Exmoor: Preliminary Survey. P.16.
  • <4> Report: Juleff, G.. 1999. Greater Exmoor Early Iron-Working Project: Summary of Activities 1997/98 and 1998/99. P.3.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Lee Bray, Dartmoor National Park Authority, 20 August 2018.
  • <6> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Catherine Dove, 20 August 2018.
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36712, Extant 8 May 2022.



Grid reference SS 923 331 (point)
Map sheet SS93SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11960
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 93 SW6
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36712
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34568

Record last edited

May 8 2022 10:09PM


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