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Canonbie, Iron Smelting Works And Forge

Forge (Period Unassigned), Iron Works (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Canonbie, Iron Smelting Works And Forge

Classification Forge (Period Unassigned), Iron Works (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Canonbie Forge

Canmore ID 112826

Site Number NY37NE 134

NGR NY 394 765

NGR Description NY c. 394 765

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Canonbie
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NY37NE 134 c. 394 765

At the beginning of the 18th century an iron-smelting works and forge were in operation at Canonbie. The site of the works appears to have lain near the Riverside Inn, on the W bank of the River Esk, where construction took place in, or shortly after, 1699. At that time Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch, entered into a contract with three partners to sell them wood in the parish of Canonbie. The three partners were already involved with an ironworks in Cumbria, and they were given the right to build a furnace or forge. In 1704 they went bankrupt, leaving behind a lot of charcoal. However, in 1712, the forge was taken on and repaired by a partnership from London, but within two years they had also gone bankrupt. Another contract was drawn up for a new London partnership in 1715, and the next fifteen years were devoted to the recycling and casting of scrap iron into items such as ovens. References to a weir suggests that water power was being used, probably for the forge hammers and the bellows, while mention of a 'slitting miln' suggests that rods of iron were being stretched and rolled for the manufacture of wire and nails. In 1719, Henry Kalmeter, a Swedish traveller, recorded that a furnace and four forge hammers were in operation.

There are no physical traces of the Works to be found at the supposed location, but its former presence is denoted by the place-names, 'Forge' (a dwelling that was originally situated within its own landscaped grounds, on the west side of the bridge) and ?Forgebraehead? (the name given to the natural, east facing scarp that rises above the settlement on the W bank of the R. Esk).

Visited by RCAHMS (SPH, ATW), 17 December 1996.

Ms. in Scottish Record Office, SRO/GD 224; OS 6-inch map, Dumfriesshire, 1st ed. (1862), sheet 53; T C Smout 1978.

Listed as forge.

RCAHMS 1997.


Watching Brief (10 October 2012)

An archaeological evaluation was carried out by GUARD Archaeology Limited, on behalf of Lapwing Builders Ltd, on an area proposed for development at the Forge, Canonbie, Dumfries and Galloway (NY 39456 76606). A trial trench evaluation was conducted of the western area and no features or finds of archaeological significance were encountered.

GUARD Archaeoligy Ltd. (M. C. Kilpatrick) OASIS ID: guardarc1-158753


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