MSO9405 - Medieval or post-medieval iron smelting site at western end of Shircombe Slade (Monument)


Slag heaps and the remains of three buildings are recorded here. The site is similar to that at Shircombe Slade (East) and is presumably medieval or early post-medieval in date, although conflicting evidence has been recovered in excavation.

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Type and Period (3)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Centred at SS 8912 2935. Two slag heaps and the remains of three buildings lie within deciduous woodland on the south side of the River Barle at the western end of Shircombe Slade. The slag heaps are the most prominent feature of the site and are visible as consolidated mossy mounds: the eastern most is 5.7 metres by 10.5 metres and is 0.8 metres high. It has been cut through by an old sunken path towards its northern end. The western slag heap measures 5.7 metres by 4 metres and is 0.6 metres high. Adjacent to the two heaps are three structures. They survive as low rubble banks 0.3 metres high and between 0.7 metres and 2 metres wide, defining buildings with internal measurements of 4.3 metres by 1.7 m, 5.2 metres (minimum) by 2.5 metres and 3.2 metres by 3.2 metres. The site is undated but is presumably medieval or early post-medieval in date. This site was found during field reconnaissance and surveyed at 1:500 scale, 9 September 1998. [1,2] A preliminary assessment suggested technological similarities between the smelting sites of Shircombe Slade West and Shircombe Slade East (also known as New Invention, MSO9406). The survey mentioned by [2] above surveyed both Shircombe Slade smelting sites following an evaluation excavation at Shircombe Slade East. [3] The smelting site at Shircombe Slade (West) was excavated over a season of four weeks in 2005. It was selected for excavation due to the apparent survival of structures associated with three small slag heaps similar to those at New Invention (Shircombe Slade (East)). Geophysical survey indicated possible furnaces in at least two of the buildings, an interpretation confirmed by the discovery of stone built furnace foundations during excavation. Two working areas were defined by low walls, each enclosing a smelting furnace and associated slag heaps. A larger structure was interpreted as a domestic structure. In contrast with Roman period sites excavated elsewhere on Exmoor, this site was characterised by the permanency of the stone-built structures, smaller quantities of smelting debris and more precise spatial organisation of the site. A small assemblage of 39 pottery sherds were recovered, 23 of which derived from a single vessel. They were dated in the field to the medieval period. Charcoal samples were taken from three trenches. Short-lived samples from material infilling the furnaces were selected for radiocarbon dating, returning dates spanning the Late Iron Age and early Roman periods. These dates clearly are problematical as they conflict with the ceramic evidence. [6-9] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R.. 1998. Shircombe Slade West/ink survey. 1:500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 9 September 1998.
  • <3> Report: Juleff, G.. 1999. Greater Exmoor Early Iron-Working Project: Summary of Activities 1997/98 and 1998/99. P. 2; 3.
  • <4> Report: Juleff, G., Rippon, S. + Wilson-North, R.. 2001. Exmoor Iron: An Exploration of the Impact of Past Iron Production on the Environmental and Cultural Landscapes of Greater Exmoor: Project Design. P. 12-13; 20; 21; 22; 23;.
  • <5> Report: Richardson, I.. 2004. Blacklake Wood, New Invention and Shircombe Slade; Report on the Documentary and Map Evidence. P.9-10.
  • <6> Report: Juleff, G. + Bray, L.. 2007. Exmoor Iron: An Exploration of the Impact of Past Iron Production on the Environmental and Cultural Landscapes of Greater Exmoor: Post-Excavation Assessment. P.16-17; 68-69; 83; 127-130; 155-156; 171.
  • <7> Report: Dean, R.. 2004. Gradiometer Survey at Shircombe Slade, Dulverton, Somerset: Interim Report.
  • <8> Report: Gillard, M.J.. 2005. Exmoor Iron Project - Shircombe Slade Stratigraphic Report.
  • <9> Report: Gale, R.. 2006. Exmoor Iron Project: Shircombe Slade - the Analysis of Charcoal from a Medieval Iron-Working Site.
  • <10> Report: Dean, R.. 2004. Exmoor Iron Methodology for the Magnetic Mapping of Iron-Working Sites.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1163564, Extant 25 January 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10039
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 82 NE 31
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1163564
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 13476



Grid reference Centred SS 8911 2935 (59m by 62m)
Map sheet SS82NE

Finds (3)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Jan 25 2022 5:05PM


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