Iron working

The 17th and early 18th centuries brought significant development of the iron industry, which emerged as one of the principal driving forces of industrialisation. One of the key Post-Medieval iron-working sites in the region that retains significant archaeological remains in Cunsey Forge, near Hawkshead, in South Lakeland, where the immense significance of the buried archaeological resource was confirmed by an initial archaeological excavation in 2017. This identified elements of the 17th-century water-powered bloomforge, and exposed extensive structural evidence for the remodelling of the site as a refining forge in 1715. The principal components of the refining forge comprised at least one waterwheel pit (with circumstantial evidence for a second), the stone-built foundations for mechanical bellows, an anvil base associated with a trip hammer, retaining walls composed almost entirely of large lumps of iron-working debris, or ‘mossers’, and a thick surface of indurated metal-working waste that derived from the refining process (Quartermaine and Miller 2017).

Photograph of people excavating remains on an archaeological site
Excavation of Cunsey Forge, South Lakeland LDNP, 2017 (courtesy of Ian Miller)

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