All done at Blelham Tarn, so many many thanks to everyone who helped out

Upland Pete

All done and trenches backfilled All done and trenches backfilled

Friday was the final day out on site at the bloomery at Blelham Tarn so we finished backfilling and reinstating the trenches as well as doing the last bit of survey and drawing up of the earthworks. A massive thanks should go to all of the volunteers who have given their time to come out and explore the four bloomeries around Windermere. Thanks should also go to Jamie, Wilm and Andy at OA North, Ian at EAS Ltd, Jamie and the field rangers at the National Trust and John, Eleanor and Holly at the National Park for giving their professional guidance on site.

We will now try to get some interim descriptions of what we found in each of the trenches on this site, and then as the analysis of the results takes place we will keep you informed of what we have learned, in…

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Octacopter UAV survey at Blelham Tarn bloomery, Windermere

Upland Pete

Aerial plan view of Blelham Tarn bloomery Aerial plan view of Blelham Tarn bloomery

Jamie returned to Blelham Tarn last weekend to undertake aerial survey on the site of the bloomery as no excavation was taking place. He used his octocopter, one of two  UAV we have at the company, to take multiple vertical images across the site. The north-western half of the site was covered in trees but the main area of the bloomery mound/platform where the four trenches were opened up was surveyed in full. From the photographs taken we were able to process them in Agisoft to create three outputs which will be really useful in trying to get an understanding of the subtle topography and earthworks for this site. First we have a flattened aerial plan view of the visible parts of the site which can be overlain on the survey data I took last week.

An oblique view of the 3D model of Blelham Tarn bloomery An oblique view of the 3D model of Blelham Tarn…

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Bring out the flags! – Topographic survey at Blelham Tarn bloomery

Upland Pete

Bloomery excavation and survey at Blelham Tarn, Windermere Bloomery excavation and survey at Blelham Tarn, Windermere

As the excavations have got underway and continued in earnest this week at Blelham Tarn, I have been there for several days in both sunshine and occasional heavy downpours undertaking detailed topographic survey of the site. When the survey is eventually drawn up it will complement both the excavations and geophysical survey results and will give us a really detailed picture of this complicated site.

Rough survey data and contours for the bloomery at Blelham Tarn, Windermere Rough survey data and contours for the bloomery at Blelham Tarn, Windermere

Two days were spent investigating the field containing the bloomery mound(s), using survey flags to differentiate the edges of breaks of slope to each earthwork, and then recording them using either theodolite or total station. The rough survey data has been overlain onto contour data at 10cm intervals that was created using LiDAR data, in order to give the general natural topography surrounding the site…

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Initial geophysics results from three of the bloomery sites investigated around Windermere

Upland Pete

Colour generated magnetometry plot of High Stott Park bloomery Colour generated magnetometry plot of High Stott Park bloomery

Here are the initial survey results for the first three bloomery sites to be investigated by us around Windermere. The surveys were undertaken by volunteers who were given enthusiastic supervision by Ian Brooks from Engineering Archaeological Services Ltd.

High Stott Park bloomery had very little earthwork evidence at ground level and the test pitting had revealed slag deposits spread across the field. The magnetomery plot and coloured plot (north to the right) show at least one furnace site on the top left (SW) corner, which on the ground was adjacent to a mossy area of slag deposit. The furnace is shown on the colour plot as an extreme dipolar anomaly (small red blob with dark blue around it). On the right hand side of the plot (NW) there are other anomalies and a messy spread of background noise. It is…

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Blelham Tarn – The excavation starts

Today was a fairly epic day at Blelham Tarn. We got the initial geophysics results back, which were spectacular, and on the back of that we were able to select an area for excavation and open a trench. The magnetometry survey had on the previous day extended over the area of the bloomery and was undertaken at a much higher resolution than had previously been undertaken and makes very exciting viewing.

The magnetometry survey in progress

The magnetometry survey in progress

The initial magnetometry results from Blelham Tarn

The initial magnetometry results from Blelham Tarn

The long black linear feature on the right is the tail race, and  at the top of that is a square white feature, which must correspond with a wheel pit.   To the left of that are two circular, very highly magnetic, features, which we are interpreting as the furnaces.  To the left of the tail race is a large rectangular structure, which we are tentatively suggesting was a charcoal store.  All in all pretty good results for the first day on site. At this stage I can also publish on the blog the results from the High Stott Park which made interesting viewing, particularly given that there were very few earthworks visible on the site.

The magnetometry results from High Stott Park

The magnetometry results from High Stott Park

Most of the area shows very little in the way of significant anomalies, but at the top left are two very magnetic sub-circular features which we are interpreting as furnaces.  This is reassuring as it demonstrates that below ground there is seemingly good survival of the bloomery remains. So onto the excavation.  After considerable discussion it was considered that one of the most important features to look at was the wheel pit, as it is the possibility that we have an early water powered bloomery on the site that makes the site so significant.  If we can discover more about the water power system and establish a date for the abandonment of the pit then that would be a fantastic achievement.  So we elected to put a trench across the suggested wheel pit geophysics anomaly.

Breaking the turf - the excavation starts

Breaking the turf – the excavation starts

The deturfed trench - early days but potentially great things to come.

The deturfed trench – early days but potentially great things to come

In addition  we were able to go great guns with the topographic survey. We managed to record most of the later dam above the site and also record what we believe to be the head race for the bloomery. All in all a fantastic days work and its hats off to everyone one that participated today, and that was despite some pretty lousy weather.  Today was the last day that Ian Brooks was with us to undertake the magnetometry survey. His results have been absolutely fantastic and we are enormously grateful for everything that he has done. Now we can now look forward to some further great stories from next monday.  So watch this space.   Jamie Quartermaine

Survey of the bloomery site at Cinder Nab, Windermere

Upland Pete

Cinder Nab bloomery, Windermere Cinder Nab bloomery, Windermere

The beginning of the week saw the completion of the topographic survey at the third of the four bloomery sites presently under investigation around Windermere. This site, at the aptly named Cinder Nab, is located adjacent to the shore on the south-west end of the lake and is a little distance to the south-east of Stott Park bobbin mill.

Surveying at Cinder Nab bloomery, Windermere Surveying at Cinder Nab bloomery, Windermere

The monument, consisting of a large turf covered kidney-shaped mound of slag, along with its location adjacent to a body of water, is typical of the surviving elements found at medieval bloomery sites. The mound is in a very picturesque setting overlooking lake and it looked particularly lovely as it was covered in a dense carpet of bluebells interspersed with a smattering of cowslips.

Eroded section of slag deposits on the lake shore near Cinder Nab bloomery, Windermere Eroded section of slag deposits on the lake shore near Cinder Nab bloomery, Windermere

The mound…

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Survey and test pitting at High Stott Park bloomery, Windermere

Upland Pete

Surveying at High Stott Park bloomery, Windermere Surveying at High Stott Park bloomery, Windermere

 We spent the Friday of last week surveying the second of the four potential medieval bloomery sites located around the lake that are to be investigated as part of the Windermere Reflections project. This particular site was at High Stott Park, and lay to the north of the Stott Park Bobbin mill, a popular visitor attraction in this part of the Lake District.

The low mounded area/spread of the bloomery at High Stott Park, Windermere The low mounded area/spread of the bloomery at High Stott Park, Windermere

The site consists of a flat-topped but slightly mounded field located to the south of the farm at High Stott Park. There is no obviously defined slag mound to this site but the area has slag exposed in molehills across the area and within a small stream/drainage gully on the south side. It seems that the area may have been landscaped probably as gardens for the farmhouse and this could have…

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Bloomery survey at Ghyll Head, Windermere

Upland Pete

Surveying at Ghyll Head bloomery, Windermere Surveying at Ghyll Head bloomery, Windermere

Over the last few days we have surveyed the first of the four potential medieval bloomery sites to be investigated this year. This is at Ghyll Head, an undulating wooded stream gully descending steeply into the east side of Windermere.

The sloping topography and dense vegeatation made the survey particularly challenging, but Holly from the Lake District National Park did sterling work on Monday with the strimmer and managed to clear a swathe across the site. That left the pungent reek of wild garlic to assault our nostrils for the next few days.

Searching for bloomery slag at Ghyll Head, Windermere Searching for bloomery slag at Ghyll Head, Windermere

This particular site consists of a relatively large mound of iron slag which spreads down the steep slope on the north side of the stream and just above the main road running along the east side of the lake. There are several possible building or…

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A quick note: Back to Windermere this week!

Just to start the blog off for the upcoming excavations I will reblog the posts from my personal site!

Upland Pete

A bloomery mound located at Cinder Nab, Ridding Bay on Windermere A bloomery mound located at Cinder Nab, Ridding Bay on Windermere

After an enforced absence posting on here due to the pleasant repercussions of a new addition to the family, it is my pleasure to start posting again, starting with my first volunteer-orientated project of the year. We are going back to Windermere for the next few weeks for a fourth and final season of archaeological work as part of the Windermere Reflections Project. Again this is in conjunction with the Lake District National Park and the National Trust. For this year we are going to be exploring the theme of metal, and we shall be investigating four separate medieval or later iron production sites, called ‘bloomeries’ that are located around the lake.

I will be undertaking the field survey element of the project with the volunteers of the four sites, which are at High Stott Park; Cinder Nab/Riddings Bay; Ghyll Head and Blelham Tarn. As part of the project…

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