MHG7711 - Iron Furnace - Red Smiddy


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Type and Period (1)

  • IRON WORKING SITE (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

NG87NE 2 8613 7977.
The remains of iron furnace on 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 NE bank of river Ewe, immediately below termination of its navigable part, which also bears name of the "Narrows of Loch Maree". The furnace is about half a mile from Poolewe, and is said to have been approached from 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 E-W, and the line of the old road is still visible leading down to its W end. Leaving the navigable part of the Ewe at E 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 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 furnace is a grassy mound, 1.3m high, with a hole, 1.5m square, at top. Being the remains of the chimney. Quantities of iron slag are visible in the heap 20m to W, and 10m NE of furnace can be seen 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 3m x 4m and 0.6m high. At S end of site, close to river, are remains of a circular, drystone structure, 1.7m diameter and 1m max 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 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.

NH 011654 Between August and November 1996 a programme of assessment, survey and excavation was undertaken around Loch Maree, Wester Ross, and specifically on early C17 ironworks at Fasagh. The work focused on assessment of previously identified ironworking sites, topographic survey, geophysical survey, excavations, and test-pits in support of the geophysics.
Loch Maree Assessment
Aug 1996 an assessment of Loch Maree area was undertaken as initial step in fieldwork programme. In case of previously identified bloomery sites no evidence of iron production was noted. The blast furnaces on other hand remain as impressive monuments. No new bloomery localities were located on burns traversed. Additional info was recovered for sites of Fasagh, Letterewe and Red Smiddy, at Red Smiddy and Fasagh the location of settlement possibly related to them and also further structural components of these ironworks.
NG 8613 7977 Site of Red Smiddy including two new collapsed drystone circular structures, 4 x 1.2m and 3 x 1m.
An interim report on this work will be lodged with the NMRS.
Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Letterewe Estate.
J A Atkinson, M Donnelly, J Duncan, O Lelong and E Photo-Jones 1997

Site under bracken and grazed by cattle. The slag dump is still visible and in part is eroding out into the river. The "chimney" is still visible although the outer structures/walling are becoming eroded away leaving the fused but friable inner layers - the area beside this is becoming eroded by visitor access. Another stone lined structure also visible. Further mounding may cover other building structures. The weir across the river is not in place any longer, instead there is a stone built cruive/landing place running along the river (not across it). This could be the entrance to a lead for water power for hammers, but the water level on time of visit was too low to confirm this - HAW 7/2004

Correction: Placename is Red Smiddy, not Red Smithy. <1>

Gairloch Museum holds metal working evidece (?slag) from the site. <2>

Sources/Archives (9)



Grid reference Centred NG 8612 7977 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG87NE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish GAIRLOCH

Finds (1)

  • SLAG (Undated)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (3)

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