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Dacre 0 to 1000AD

There is no confirmed evidence of Roman activity at Dacre but its location only six miles from the Roman lead mining and smelting site at Greehow implies that there must have been a presence in the area added to that are several features and artifacts that could indicate their presence or influence. There is, for example, a field wall in typical Roman style, that is, a rectangle with rounded corners and channel stones have been discovered that could be of Roman origin. There is also an uncorroborated report of the finding of some Roman coins near the centre of the modern village of Dacre, or Dacre Top as it is known locally to distiguish it from Dacre Banks a mille away downhill near the River Nidd and there are the remains of shaft furnaces for the smelting of iron that could be from the Roman era.

There are a number of apparently post-Roman features on Dacre Pasture above Dacre Top and around the prehistoric settlements including the foundations of a number of buildings and some enclosures and while very few have been subject to detailed investigation, none appear to be part of an organised settlement. This, together with the fact that there are some indications of atiquity around the modern village gives rise to the thought that modern Dacre became the focus of community life in the post-Roman era.

Agricultural improvements and particularly 19th century enclosures have obliterated many of the older features but two things support the idea of the development of Dacre village in the first millenium. One is that it is well placed for communication as the current road pattern suggests and the other is that there are one or two ancient field walls among the many, rectangular fields that were created by the Enclosure Acts. These older walls have large earthfast boulders in their foundations, typical of early construction styles and they do not follow the straight lines of more modern structures. Following these walls on foot and on maps confirms that they are likely to have been the walls that divided the arable fields of the village from the open pasture beyond.

 

We have seen no absolute evidence of technology from the from the first millenium AD but there is a cluster of bloomery furnaces and associated features that in their level of sophistication lie below the very obviously medieval furnaces that have been discovered and it is therefore possible that they predate the Middle Ages. They are bigger and more substantial than the stack furnaces of the Prehisoric site but are smaller in diameter than the medieval furnaces although, like them the hearths are built into the hillside. The slope of the hill on which they have been constructed is however much steeper than the slopes on which the known medieval furnaces have been constructed and they differ too in one other significant way, namely the manner in which slag is was drained from the furnace. On the smaller furnaces the drain has been seen to be on the front of the furnace on the downhill side, a simple arrangement but one which has the disadvantage of draining the very hot molten rock toward the operator. In the obviously meieval furnaces the slag was drained into a pit at the side of the hearth where it could be left until hard. A much safer arrangement. Whether these smaller furnaces are from the Anglo-Saxon/Viking period is yet to be confirmed but it is a reasonable hypothesis.

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Bloomery Furnace - Pre-Medieval?