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Remains of 200 year-old Ironworks found near Elsecar and Hoyland

Last day of an archaeological dig, funded through the National Lottery at the Milton Forge playing fields between Elsecar and Hoyland
Last day of an archaeological dig, funded through the National Lottery at the Milton Forge playing fields between Elsecar and Hoyland

An unknown part of a 200 year-old ironworks near Elsecar has been unearthed following an archaeological dig.

The dig, funded through the National Lottery at the Milton Forge playing fields between Elsecar and Hoyland, has discovered a previously unknown part of the once famous Milton Ironworks.

Over the past few weeks, professional archaeologists have worked with staff from Barnsley Museums and the local community to find traces of the area’s forgotten industrial past, as part of the Great Place Wentworth and Elsecar project.

In the past few days of the dig, they uncovered the remains of a calcining kiln – an oven for roasting iron ore before it was smelted in blast furnaces. It’s thought that this was one of a series of kilns used at the works, although their location was unknown.

Principal archaeologist with ArcHeritage, Richard Jackson, said: “The dig has been really exciting. The geophysics that Historic England did last year showed a big magnetic response here, so we were interested to find out why that was. We have been able to prove that the remains of the former ironworks have survived, and the site was bigger than we first thought.”

The dig uncovered many other fascinating artefacts from the early 20th century when the field was used as a tip. This included part of a commemorative cup from the Belmont Social Club in Hoyland, and a workman’s clay pipe from Broseley in Shropshire.

Councillor Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: “The excavation has provided a fantastic opportunity for the community to take part in documenting an important piece of local history.”

Project officer for the Elsecar Heritage Action Zone, supported by Historic England, Dr Tegwen Roberts, said: “It’s been a fantastic community effort. The Milton Ironworks was originally a key part of the planned model industrial development of Elsecar.”