Following observations of possible extinct industrial sites in deciduous woodland in and around the Cordwell Valley, members of the Hunter Archaeological Society selected a site for excavation. The sites generally take the form of conical holes in the ground up to 5 metres diameter and up to 1.5 metres deep, mostly on sloping valleysides. Some of the holes appear to have a drain or trough leading from the centre down the slop towards the adjacent stream. Substantial quantities of coal and coked coal were found on the surface of the ground around the holes. The specific hole selected for excavation was in Rose Wood in Barlow parish. Excavations showed that the plan of the feature was approximately square rather than circular. Layers within the feature included soft carbon deposits, compacted carbonaceous ash material and a layer of baked clay of a strength, colour and hardness comparable to a poor quality housebrick - presumably a hearth level. However, the latter overlay a further layer of compacted carbon and ash. A trench across the spout of the hole also indicated that there had been at least two phases. No dating evidence was found. It was concluded that the hole had been used for the carbonisation of coal to produce a metallurgical coke for use on another site, probably for the smelting of iron. The location on the bank of the stream and the spout leading from the hole containing tailings were taken to suggest that water was used to quench the fire as soon as the required temperature and conditions had been reached. An alternative interpretation was that the site might have been used as an ironstone roasting pit, the produce being used in the iron furnaces in the Barlow area. (1)
Following the excavation of two further Q holes in different woods, it was concluded that it was not possible to know what the final product was and therefore no proof of what the Q holes were used for. (2)
Unpublished document: Hunter Archaeological Society. 1982. Report on the Excavation of an Industrial Site located in Rosewood in the Cordwell Valley.
Article in serial: Franklin, G. 1991. '"Q" Holes', Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society. Volume 16, pp 7-15.
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Centred SK 3136 7573 (7m by 6m)
BARLOW, NORTH EAST DERBYSHIRE, DERBYSHIRE
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Jul 2 2015 10:04AM
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