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Early Iron Working in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire 2001

This Cadw-funded project is examining the evidence for the early post-medieval iron working industry in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The evidence, which is often very fragmentary, includes the remains of the iron working sites themselves and contemporaneous documentary records. The main aim of the project is to provide information on the current condition of the physical remains of the various furnace and forge sites and to produce topographical surveys of the remains of the Ponthenri furnace and the Llandyfan forge. Both are becoming physically unstable through general deterioration and increased vegetation growth. Another aim of the project is to locate any previously unrecorded early post-medieval iron working sites.

The work undertaken during 2000-2001 was a desk-based exercise. Nine sites have so far been identified, consisting of three furnace sites at Canaston Woods (Pembrokeshire), Ponthenri and Raby's Furnace (both Carmarthenshire) and six forge sites at Blackpool (Pembrokeshire), Cwmbran, Cwmdwyfran, Kidwelly, Llandyfan and Whitland (all Carmarthenshire). The sites at Canaston Woods, Llandyfan, Ponthenri and Raby's Furnace are all Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

The dam at Llandyfan Old Forge

The work during 2001-2002 recorded the surviving remains of the most important and best preserved of the sites. First time topographic surveys were produced for the late 16th century furnace at Ponthenri and 17th and 18th century forges at Llandyfan, all in Carmarthenshire. These surveys received a fieldwork and recording award from the Association for Industrial Archaeology.

The project has shown that the physical remains of the ironworking sites are a small and fragile resource. The current condition of the sites is a major concern and without some form of active management their long-term survival is doubtful. Therefore, a series of recommendations were made for a short-term programme of remedial works and longer-term management.

Project contact: Ken Murphy

The project is grant aided by Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments



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