Iron

Iron production occurred throughout the region because of widely available ore supplies and managed woodlands that provided fuel. Across Cumbria, extensive landscape surveys are mapping a wide range of production and extraction sites which may be late medieval in date. The Lake District was especially known for its iron workings and the Coniston Woodland Survey has identified bloomeries though these are undated (Schofield 2010) (Fig. 34)

Significant progress has been made within Greater Manchester in understanding extractive industries, including iron working, as a number of sites have been discovered recently. At Chorlton Fold (GM) the remains of a smithy, along with tap slag indicates the presence of iron working. These were found in association with late 14th century pottery although no furnaces were discovered. The site lay within the lands of Whalley Abbey and the iron working may have been controlled by the monastery (McPhillips 2008).

Iron smelting has been recognised at Castleshaw, Delph (GM) since the late 19th century. In the late 20th century excavations of furnaces at Spa Clough and Cudworth pasture established that the iron working here dated to the 12th/early 13th centuries when Cistercians controlled the land granted to them in 1199. Further surveys and test pitting investigated earthworks near the upper reservoir, which confirmed the presence of a medieval iron working spoil mound. Tap slag similar to that from Spa Clough indicates furnaces in the vicinity, (Redhead 2012).

An iron bloomery site at Cinder Hill, Bolton was in use during the 12th- 14th centuries, indicated by the ceramics assemblage. Remains included bloomery furnaces, tapping pits, a charcoal clamp and a pit possibly used for roasting the ore (Gregory 2015 3) (Fig. 35).

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