© Oxford Archaeology North

Lives in the Landscape

Discovering new information about the history and landscape development of the area through a community archaeology programme of surveys, research, excavation, interpretation and conservation management works.

The Rusland Horizons scheme area is a rich cultural landscape of some antiquity and includes a large number of woodland industrial archaeological sites and historic landscape features. The archaeological potential of this area is high and it contains sites dating from the prehistoric period to the recent past. Many of the recorded archaeological sites are connected to industries which utilised the natural resources of the region. The local resources which were important comprised wood, charcoal and water power, which were variously used to smelt iron, manufacture bobbins and gunpowder, drive mills and create products such as swill baskets, besoms, clog and hoops and tool handles.

This community archaeology project aims to uncover new information about the history and landscape development of the area through a programme of surveys, research, excavation, interpretation and conservation management works.

Aims and benefits:

  • The archaeology will be better understood. The Lake District Historic Environment Record (HER) will be updated with new information to inform future management.
  • Cunsey Forge site will be conserved and improved. Information about the site will be presented in an interpretation panel.
  • Volunteers will gain skills and experience in surveying, archive research and excavation.
  • There will be a greater local awareness of the heritage of the area and improved management of archaeological features by land managers. This will contribute to creating a greater sense of the special relationship between the landscape we see today and its history.
© Vanessa Champion

So far so good...

Update October 2018

  • To date, we have recorded 272 previously undocumented woodland archaeology sites.
  • The surveys and excavations at Satterthwaite Bloomery have been completed. If you wish to look at the progress and the work being done, please click here to read the blog which is updated regularly.
  • The interim project results will be presented before long, probably in Backbarrow again - watch this space.
  • We will be at the Archaeology Conference on Saturday 10 November 2018 at Rheged near Penrith (click on the link for more details and to book tickets).

    Click here to download the Conference Progamme Flyer.

Did you know?

The bloomery forge at Cunsey is one of the very few surviving examples of its type in Britain. The site dates from c. 1618 and was used first to smelt iron and later, following the construction of a blast furnace at Cunsey in 1715, as a refining forge.

In 2004 excavation of holes for new native woodland planting at Barkhouse Bank exposed quantities of charcoal which date back to between 1280 – 1410.

The surveys and excavations at Cunsey Forge, near Esthwaite Water, are now complete, you can read the blog and find out about the initial results and how the team got on here. Or read the Report Summary by clicking on the download under 'READ' below:

Project Lead

Lake District National Park Authority

The Challenge

The archaeology of the area is inextricably linked to the history of woodland management. It is, however, seriously under-recorded and there is a risk of losing what we do not know we have. The growth and decline of the woodland industry has resulted in a range of archaeology that is now at risk from, for example, vegetation growth or a change in land use.

Our Approach

Volunteers will work with archaeologists on the following four projects:

1. Archaeological Surveys of Woodland

There is at least 1,217 hectares of woodland in the area that has not been surveyed. We are working with landowners and volunteers to identify and record the location and condition of archaeological features.

2. Survey of Bethecar Moor

Bethecar Moor is one of the few extensive areas of open fell in the southern Lake District that has not been subject to archaeological survey. In 2018, we will carry out a Level 1 Survey to record all of the visible archaeological features on the Moor.

3. Conservation and survey of Cunsey Bloomery Forge

A large part of the Cunsey Forge site has been used as a rubbish dump in recent years and is also heavily overgrown with trees. There is concern that the site is deteriorating. The site has now been cleared of rubbish. Archaeologists and volunteers surveyed and excavated the site. It has now been conserved and a new interpretation will tell the story of the findings.

4. Satterthwaite bloomery and charcoal pits

We know that there are bloomeries around Satterthwaite which date back to the thirteenth century. In 2018, archaeologists and volunteers will survey and excavate the site to find out more about medieval iron smelting.

The information will be used to produce a detailed report on each site. It will be useful to landowners and land managers and enable them to protect, preserve and manage the landscape for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

Can You Help?

We need volunteers

Unless marked as optional, all fields are required

Your Details

Interested in multiple projects? Click here

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2019. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons is a Landscape Partnership funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund