Societies in the past depended on iron. To make it, they needed three things: iron ore, clay and wood. All three occur close together in the Blackdown Hills making it an ideal place for the industry to grow. People used the clay to build furnaces, heated with charcoal they made from local wood, the iron ore was roasted then heated in the furnaces, a process called ‘smelting’. When it got to the right temperature it formed ‘blooms’ of iron that could be beaten and worked into weapons, tools, cooking pots and any number of useful items.
A cratered landscape, created by opencast iron working on the plateau top, can still be seen around North Hill on the west side of the AONB. Evidence of smelting, are widespread across the area.
Through our Metal Makers project, local people and archaeologists explored the history of iron working in the Blackdown Hills and produced a series of learning resources.