Manor Valley Lead Smelting and Burnt Mounds

Volunteers Surveying

Volunteers Surveying

The Manor Valley was chosen as a suitable area for teaching surveying methods to members of the newly founded (1995) Peeblesshire Archaeological Society (PAS).

This work became the first of three major surveys directed by the writer in Peeblesshire, the other two being The Broughton Heights Survey and the Upper Tweed Survey. The latter two are written up and Manor is still in prep, however PAS has produced a n excellent book, “The Manor Valley” which summarises the result of the project. Similar to all upland surveys or re-surveys Manor has produced an impressive array of previously un-recorded sites, most especially cairns, burnt mounds and lead smelting sites. The valley was already renowned for its upstanding and highly visible legacy of Iron Age hillforts and settlements recorded in 1967 by The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Of particular note was the discovery of lead smelting sites in close proximity to burnt mounds. An excavation was carried out in order to obtain evidence to show whether or not they were related. In the event radio carbon dating showed that the burnt mounds were Bronze Age in date while the smelting sites dated to c 9th – 11th centuries AD.

These smelting sites are still not fully understood but they are the earliest dated examples in Britain and they compliment similar work by BAG in Clydesdale where similar sites have been found and dated (Ward, forthcoming).