The problem is not whether there was a Soudley Forge, but where it was.
Cross has almost certainly relied on Hart, Industrial History of Forest of
Dean (1971). However Mullins pointed out that what had been read on
reproductions of a map as 'old forge' actually said 'old bank'. I have to
confess that I have not examined the sources myself, but do remember what
Kemp published being controversial at the time, and was not accepted by
those in that area who know about the subject. It was for that reason that
Post-Med Arch published the re-assessment.
Soudley Forge was certainly somewhere nearby, but precisely where remains to
be determined. It may be that what Kemp found was related to the saw mill
etc.; I do not know. A foundry (provided the term is used in its strict
sense) does not need water-power, and hence does not necessarily enter into
Soudley Forge closed in 1644, and unlike certain of the Kings ironworks was
not reopened by the Commonwealth government after the Civil War. The works
that were reinstated were sold by the crown to Paul Foley for demolition in
1674. The foundry was probably built in 1823 and continued until about 1870
(Hart 1971, 161-2). There is thus a gap of 180 years between the forge
closing and the foundry etc. being built There is thus no reason to
There is in fact reason to suggest that they were not in the same place.
The foundry was built on private land. Two of the Kings Forges (Bradley and
White croft) were built by the farmers of the works about 1629 and are
specifically described in 1635 as not affixed to the freehold; they were on
private land leased from others. However the rest of the Kings ironworks
were on Crown land within the bounds of the Forest. The Soudley Brook was
the boundary. Accordingly, the foundry was on the east bank of the brook,
whereas the forge should be somewhere on the west bank. (These directions
refer to the general course of the brook, as flowing from the north to the
south, not its particular direction at that point, as the valley winds).
From: Industrial Archaeology [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Sent: 26 March 2004 23:07
To: Peter Wickham King
Subject: Re: Supposed Forge in Forest of Dean
<< File: Re_ Supposed Forge in Forest of Dean.txt >> I have just been
looking at my rather battered copy of: Cross, A.G.R.,
(1982) Old Industrial Sites in Wyedean: A gazetteer. Wyedean: D.H. Evans. It
includes two references (p.11) to 17C ironworking at Soudley:
SO 653107 The King's Furnace, Soudley - 1612-1650. Site now occupied 
by Cinderford Sewage Works. A fragment of stonework exists embedded in a
bank at the southern end of the works.
SO 664106 The King's Forge, Soudley - 1612-1644. Site subsequently used as
a foundry, wood turnery, leatherboard works, and sawmill. Recently a
scrapyard for old cars (Camp Mill), the site has now  been acquired
for use as a Forest of Dean Interpretation Centre.
Much multi-period ironworking/smelting has been undertaken in the valley
between Staple Edge and Holly Tuft. Thus, various types of slag (different
processes = different slags) may be encountered in the vicinity. The Camp
Mill site appears to have led a busy life. Subsequent industrial reuse has
undoubtedly complicated the archaeological record. Presumably remains of The
King's Forge may yet be located on, or near the site of the Forest of Dean
Interpretation Centre. I imagine that the positive identification of
physical remains of this installation would benefit the aforementioned
Paul H Vigor.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter King" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2004 8:14 PM
Subject: Re: Supposed Forge in Forest of Dean
> I have had to go back to the journal Post-Med Arch to refresh my memory on
> this subject after Paul Courtney reminded me of the source. The original
> publication by Richard Kemp was of the excavation of a site, which he
> identified as being Soudley Forge, one of the ironworks authorised by the
> King in his Royal Forest of Dean in 1612. There is a detailed inventory
> this dated 1635. David Mullins reviewed the published account and
> a re-assessment. Unfortunately the volume with the original publication
> not on the shelf in the library that I visited, but David Mullins' article
> Kemp found a structure that was probably a dam, and a wall 28 foot long.
> The inventory referred to a building 40 foot by 28 foot, with a hammer and
> anvil with waterwheel, two finery wheels and a chafery wheel, that is four
> water wheels, but Kemp was unable to explain where any of these were.
> Furthermore, there was no slag at all.
> Mullins conclusion was thus that whatever Kemp found, it was probably not
> Soudley Forge of 1635. I have been looking at something intended for
> publication relating to the archaeology of the metal industries. This was
> making the point that there has been very little archaeological
> investigation of finery forges. I consider that the point will be made
> strongly, if the few excavations that have been done are listed.
> Unfortunately, this is only one of two of the sites published as finery
> forges that are not such; the other, Stony Hazel Forge in Cumbria is
> documented only as a bloomery forge, operating from 1718 to 1725. It was
> then acquired by the two iron companies operating in the neighbourhood,
> almost certainly to close it; they paid dead-rents on several former
> bloomery forges local, almost certainly to keep them from competing to buy
> Kemp, R. L, 'A seventeenth century royal forge in the Forest of Dean,
> Gloucestershire'. Post-Medieval Archaeology, 21 (1987), 127-46.
> Mullin, D., 'The archaeology of Camp Mill: a reassessment' Ibid. 23
> Peter King
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Industrial Archaeology [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
> James Brothers
> Sent: 26 March 2004 13:30
> To: Peter Wickham King
> Subject: Re: Supposed Forge in Forest of Dean
> << File: Re_ Supposed Forge in Forest of Dean.txt >> I don't have access
> the journals either. But would like to pose a
> question and make a suggestion. When you refer to a "forge" what do you
> mean, as there are at least nine different kinds? As this one is fairly
> early and is water powered I'll assume it is probably a bloomery.
> In order to avoid confusion, it would be better to only use the word
> "forge" by itself when it is used as a verb. It would be preferable to
> refer to an iron site as a finery or bloomery, or finery forge or
> bloomery forge. This eliminates any possible confusion as to what kind
> of "forge".