Over the past few years, Cotswold Archaeology has been carrying out drawn and photographic recording at Gunns Mill in the Forest of Dean, which include the remains of the oldest surviving blast furnace in the country. The site, a Scheduled Monument and a Grade II* Listed building, is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register but has been rescued from the threat of extreme dereliction by the Forest of Dean Building Preservation Trust, who are undertaking a programme of conservation and restoration work to restore this unique building.
The mill was originally built as a blast furnace as early as 1683, and very probably before. In 1740 the furnace was converted into a paper mill, and was then used as a farm building from the 1880s. Despite this, many features of the original blast furnace survive largely intact, including the charging house and blowing chamber. The mill represents a very visible reminder of the importance of the Forest of Dean in the early development of ironworking, both nationally and worldwide. Read more about our work at Gunns Mill.