The Charcoal Burner's Camp

Charcoal burning at the museumCharcoal making was one of Dean's oldest industries. Charcoal fuelled the local ironworks from prehistoric times until the introduction of coke in the eighteenth century.

Charcoal is pure carbon and burns cleanly producing intense heat. Traditionally it was made in the woods. A circular area about thirty feet in diameter was first levelled. Four-foot lengths of small wood were stacked around a central flue to form a dome-shaped mound. This was then covered with turf and soil to exclude air. The stack was lit and burned for several days with a restricted air supply, turning the wood to charcoal.

The charcoal hearths needed constant attention and so the charcoal burners and their families often lived out in the woods in temporary teepee-like shelters, thatched with branches.

Demonstration burns take place twice a year - ask for details. Further information on charcoal burning is contained in a leaflet available from the shop.

Charcoal for barbecues is also on sale in the shop when available.

tending the charcoal stack  building the charcoal stack

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