MHG7940 - Furnace, Letterewe


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

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

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NG97SE 1 9580 7055.

(NG 95817054) The ironworks at Furnace, Letterewe are earliest historic ironworks in country. The furnace is situated on N bank of the Furnace Burn, which flows into Loch Maree about one mile to S of Letterewe House. The foundations of furnace are still to be seen, although by no means perfect. They stand on top of bank of the burn, which must have materially altered its course since the works were in existence. The furnace was built of Torridon sandstone and brick, masses of which, much vitrified, are still visible in large quantities.
The first mention of these works was in 1610 but they had been established for some time prior as they are shown on Speed's map of "The Kingdome of Scotland" (1610), and it may have been as early as 1598.
W I Macadam 1893; J H Dixon 1886.

In a small copse on NW bank of Amhainn na Fuirneis, 20m SW of the footbridge crossing burn, are mutilated remains of ironworks, standing 2.3m above the present water-level. They comprise a portion of the wall of the furnace, and 2 large scatters of heavy iron slag 15m NE of this. The remains of furnace, survive to a height of 0.8m, but a fairly modern field wall may partially overlay remainder. A considerable quantity of vitrified Torridon sandstone is visible in the furnace walling. A scatter of slag, charcoal and burnt material can be seen in cultivated field immediately to NW.
Surveyed at 1/2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 5 April 1965.

NH 011 654 Between August and November 1996 a programme of assessment, survey and excavation was undertaken around Loch Maree, Wester Ross, and specifically on early 17th-century ironworks at Fasagh. The work focused on assessment of previously identified ironworking sites, topographic survey, geophysical survey, excavations, and test-pits in support of geophysics.
Loch Maree Assessment. In August 1996 an assessment of Loch Maree area was undertaken as the initial step in the 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 the burns traversed. Additional information was recovered for sites of Fasagh, Letterewe and Red Smiddy, including at Letterewe presence of haematite ore, and at Red Smiddy and Fasagh the location of settlement possibly related to them and also further structural components of these ironworks.
NG 9580 7075 Site of Letterewe, furnace mound, slag heaps, walling, ore dump.
NG 9580 7075 Topographic survey recorded remains of ironworks along W bank of the Furnace Burn. At N end is a slag-rich area, while to S the furnace consists of sandstone slabs with a vitrified superstructure, measuring 5 x 4m. A concentration of slag lies immediately S of it, as well as what may be a stone-built channel leading to river.
An interim report on this work will be lodged with NMRS.
Sponsors: Historic Scotland, Letterewe Estate.
J A Atkinson, M Donnelly, J Duncan, O Lelong and E Photo-Jones 1997

Radiocarbon dating suggests a late Medieval- early post-Medieval date. See link below to Scottish Radiocarbon Database for radiocarbon date.

Gairloch Museum holds metal working evidence (?slag) from the site. <1>

Sources/Archives (7)



Grid reference Centred NG 9579 7056 (14m by 14m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG97SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish GAIRLOCH

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