Keys to the Past

Wheelbirks Furnace (Broomley and Stocksfield)

Wheelbirks Furnace.
Wheelbirks Furnace.

At the bottom of a wooded valley lie the remains of a blast furnace, standing about 1.5m high. It was built of stone and comprises a rectangular chamber and two flanking walls. The furnace was first discovered in the 1840s and partially excavated. At that time heaps of iron ore and slag, charcoal and limestone were evident around the furnace, and lumps of smelted iron were seen inside. The structure was re-examined in the 1980s and magnetic dating of the surrounding slag produced a date for the last firing of between 1550 and 1590. This date ties in with documentary references which first appear in 1566. The furnace probably only operated for a very short period, possibly only a year or so, before it was abandoned. It has been suggested that this is the earliest blast furnace north of the River Tees and is of great significance in the study of the spread of technology from south east England. This is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade II Listed Building protected by law.

Reference number:N9797
Historical period: Post Medieval (1540 to 1901)
Medieval (1066 to 1540)
Legal status:Listed Building
Scheduled Ancient Monument

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See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of Broomley and Stocksfield


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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.