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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 659303

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NG87NE 2 8613 7977

Red Smiddy

(Iron Works)

(remains of) [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, October 2008.

The remains of the iron furnace on the river Ewe are still called A Cheardach Raudh, or the Red Smithy. It was probably established between 1610 and 1668.

The Red Smiddy is on the north-east bank of the river Ewe, immediately below the termination of its navigable part, which also bears the name of the 'Narrows of Loch Maree'. The furnace is about half a mile from Poolewe, and is said to have been approached from the other side of the river by means of a weir or dam, which was long afterwards converted into a cruive dyke. This weir served also to maintain the water-power used for working the hammers. It spanned the river in a transverse direction from east to west, and the line of the old road is still visible leading down to its west end. Leaving the navigable part of the Ewe at the east end of the weir, was a race or cut, more or less artificial, the channel of which still runs past the furnace.

It was not till some time prior to 1830 that the old weir was restored, and used for salmon cruives. They were removed about 1852.

'The furnace is still tolerably complete. It is about 6ft square, and stands on a mound red with its remains. It is built of sandstone. The chimney stalk was standing to the height of eight or ten feet at the time the cruives were removed'.

Various bits of ore, slag and iron have been found about the furnace.

J H Dixon 1886; W Kemp 1887; W I Macadam 1893.

Red Smithy, situated at NG 8613 7977, is generally as described above. All that can be seen of the furnace is a grassy mound, 1.3m high, with a hole, 1.5m square, at the top. being the remains of the chimney. Quantities of iron slag are visible in the heap 20.0m to the west, and 10.0m north-east of the furnace can be seen the track of the aforementioned water-cut. The steep natural bank bordering this cut contains much charcoal.

Close to the furnace mound is a sub-oval dry-stone structure 3.0m x 4.0m and 0.6m high. At the south end of the site, close to the river, are the remains of a circular, drystone structure, 1.7m diameter and 1.0m maximum height.

Mr K J Urquhart, of 14 Tollie Croft, Inverewe, has in his possession a pig of iron reputed to have come from one of the local sites. It is 0.1m square in section, 0.3m long and is inscribed Clveland.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 15 March 1965.

Site recorded between August and November 1996 during a programme of assessment, survey and excavation undertaken around Loch Maree, Wester Ross.

NG 8615 7980 Rectangular stone structure 9 x 3m, two collapsed structures/cairns 5 x 3m.

NG 8613 7977 Site of Red Smiddy including two new collapsed drystone circular structures, 4 x 1.2m and 3 x 1m.

NG 8614 7978 Midden deposit and exposed archaeological horizons in terrace.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Letterewe

J A Atkinson, M Donnelly, J Duncan, O Lelong and E Photos-Jones 1997

In addition to the OS report (15 March 1965) J R Hume photographed four pig iron blocks inscribed 'Cleveland' at Letterewe Pier (NG97SE 12); this photograph is SC584361.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

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