SS 752382. Remains of "early" ironworkings are visible at Burcombe. The iron deposits on Exmoor have been worked since Roman times and a systematic attempt to exploit them was made in the third quarter of the 19th century. (1)
The earthworks of an abandoned ironworking centred at SS753382 are visible at Burcombe located on a steep hillslope and into a deep valley. The origin of the workings are not known but much of the surviving evidence is probably attributable to the post-medieval period. The site is part of the extensive ironworkings which lay down Burcombe valley.
A 1:1000 scale survey of this openwork known as Roman Lode, was undertaken in 1997 by the RCHME Exeter Office. The substantial earthwork is some 660m in length with at least four capped shafts and a number of adits traceable. Mounds of spoil and worked-over dumps survive on both sides of the earthwork.
The survey was commissioned by the Exmoor National Park as part of the Exmoor Ironworking Project. The survey and report are deposited in the Archive. (2-4).
The extensive openwork known as Roman Lode is clearly visible on aerial photographs of Burcombe, Exmoor. In addition, to the north of the openwork a number of hummocks and pits can also be seen. Excavations at these pits as part of the Exmoor Ironworking Project in the early 21st century established a radiocarbon date dating to the mid Bronze Age. It is possible that copper was also exploited here prior to iron working, and if that is the case, it is also conceivable that iron has been extracted here throughout the Iron Age, Roman and early medieval periods as well. Certainly the size and complexity of the working indicate that a long period of exploitation occurred here. The form of the openwork itself suggests a medieval or early post medieval date, and it is likely that the majority of the workings date to this period (5-7).