MSO9406 - Medieval iron smelting site at eastern end of Shircombe Slade (Monument)


Two slag heaps, the western mound of which has been excavated as part of the joint Exmoor National Park Authority/National Trust Earlier Iron-Working on Exmoor Project. Charcoal samples have returned a date in the medieval period.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Two slag heaps on the south side of the River Barle at the eastern end of Shircombe Slade were reported by the Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) Archaeologist. The western mound is currently being excavated as part of the ENPA/National Trust Earlier Ironworking Project. [1] A small smelting site in Shircombe Slade Wood comprising two adjacent slag heaps. The first heap measures circa 5.5 metres in diameter and 1 metre high and the second circa 3.5 metres in diameter and 1.25 metres high. The mounds could be mistaken for secondary dumps intended for use in road metalling, but they are composed of large slabs of tapped slag which could not have been transported intact, and therefore indicate in situ working. [2] Centred at SS 8972 2936 between a well used woodland track and the River Barle are two well defined slag heaps. The western mound is 6.2 metres north-south by 5 metres and is 0.82 metres high. An excavation trench 2 metres long and 0.4 metres wide cuts west-east through the mound revealing a composition of compacted slag. The eastern mound is circular and is 5.3 metres in diameter and 0.7 metres m high. Surveyed at 1:200 with accompanying profiles. [3] A preliminary assessment of site and the recovered waste debris suggests technological similarities with the smelting site at Shircombe Slade (west) (MSO9406). The site was quantitatively sampled by excavation in September 1998. Following excavation the site was surveyed by the RCHME, an aim of the survey being to record the excavated section of the larger slag heap to aid calculating the volume of the heap, to potentially extrapolate the level of metal production from the site. Two radiocarbon dates have been returned for this site. The first, from a sample taken from a level 60 centimetres below modern ground level has returned a date of AD 1260-1400 (calibrated). The second sample, from above a clay base has returned a date of AD 1225-1310 (calibrated). [4,5] The site and technological debris deposits at Shircombe Slade (East) are similar in character to that at Shircombe Slade (West) (MSO9406) and New Invention to the southeast (MEM15417), characterised by relatively small in situ deposits of smelting waste probably generated over short period of time. All three sites have undergone small scale investigation and sampling, resulting in small assemblages of technological debris, of great value as comparative intersite material with which to examine variation in the character of debris from medieval iron smelting sites. [9]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. ENPA archaeologist field visit. V. Heal, ENPA Archaeologist.
  • <2> Report: Juleff, G.. 1997. Earlier Iron-Working on Exmoor: Preliminary Survey. P. 18-19; 30, Table 1..
  • <3> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. Wilson-North, R. 9th September 1998.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Juleff, G.. 1999. Charcoal Samples Sent for C14 Dating.
  • <5> Report: Juleff, G.. 1999. Greater Exmoor Early Iron-Working Project: Summary of Activities 1997/98 and 1998/99. P. 1-2; 3; 4-7.
  • <6> Report: Juleff, G., Rippon, S. + Wilson-North, R.. 2000. Greater Exmoor Early Iron-Working Project: Project Outline. P. 5.
  • <7> 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; 32;.
  • <8> Report: Richardson, I.. 2004. Blacklake Wood, New Invention and Shircombe Slade; Report on the Documentary and Map Evidence. P.7-8.
  • <9> 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.19-21; 133-134; 174.



Grid reference Centred SS 8971 2933 (79m by 62m)
Map sheet SS82NE

Finds (2)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10040
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 82 NE 32
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1163589
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 13477

Record last edited

Apr 2 2019 1:53PM


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