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Historic Background

A large amount of prehistoric activity is recorded within the survey boundary and beyond. Archaeological investigation has recovered artefacts dating from the Late Upper Palaeolithic to the Iron Age. The modern day roads, the A1029 and A1077 (Brigg/Winterton Road west of the steelworks), may well re-use the route of a prehistoric trackway which runs along the west of the steel works. The transition from the prehistoric into the Roman period is demonstrated in the archaeological record. One site known as Dragonby, which is of national importance, records this transition having been excavated by Jeffrey May between 1963 and 1973.

Frequent scattered finds-spots from the prehistoric and Roman periods and are suggestive of a heavily occupied landscape.

Central Park, Scunthorpe

The Pods, Scunthorpe


The location of the settlements changed in the early medieval period, and new villages and farmsteads were established along spring lines further down the western slope of the limestone ridge. These settlements were Crosby, Frodingham, Scunthorpe, Brumby, and Ashby. Settlements were also established at North and South Conesby; however were abandoned by the late medieval period. The parishes of the five settlements were organised in elongated strips, aligned east-west, some extending from the limestone cliff in the east to the River Trent in the west. Each parish contained common and moor land, generally located at the outer extremities of the parish boundaries, and open fields and closes in the centre, adjacent to the settlement centres. These settlements remained small hamlets throughout much of their history. It was only after ironstone was rediscovered (after it was forgotten in the late medieval period) and a local ironworking industry was established that the villages began to see large growth in the late 19th century.


Ashby and Scunthorpe were the earliest to be developed. Initially, this consisted of streets of new terraced housing. As a need for commercial centres grew, many of these were swiftly converted into shops, particularly along the main roads such as Ashby High Street and High Street. In the late 19th and early 20th century the enormous expansion of the iron and steel industry fuelled the need for more employees. This resulted in a large population growth and by 1936 the five parishes had formed one municipal borough. This allowed large scale planning decisions to be made for the town, which resulted in the construction of many large housing estates across the borough and saw a growth of Scunthorpe’s population from 11,000 to almost 80,000.


The historic cores of the five villages although preserved in usage and form, have largely disappeared through development and renovation. Population growth also led to the development of dozens of new schools, shopping areas and public amenities. As a result the town has multiple civic and commercial areas rather than one centre which is common in many towns. The town has seen much of its development throughout the 20th century and this has also allowed for the provision of green space. Locally, Scunthorpe cultivated the title of the ‘Industrial Garden City’, and the realisation of this aspiration is noticeable in the number of tree-lined streets, parks, and woodlands. Another feature which is apparent across much of the survey area is the steel works, which has provided both the catalyst for the initial growth in the area and on-going employment for much of the population of the town.


This industry, which began as a small number of individual iron works has expanded to cover much of the eastern survey area, and is also visible across the skyline for much of the town. A large amount of redevelopment and renovation has taken place within the town centre in the later 20th and early 21st centuries, with the pedestrianisation of public realm streets and the development of new shopping areas and parks. Scunthorpe despite having historic origins is a relatively new town, and has seen near constant growth and change over the past century, as such; it is well equipped to innovate and redevelop itself in the future.

Character Summary 

Scunthorpe has a number of distinct character areas as well as a large area of relatively similar development. HUCA 1 represents the historic cores of Scunthorpe, Frodingham and Crosby; the area is thought of as the centre of the town. It contains a number of important religious buildings, as well as commercial and civic buildings associated with a centre. The form of the character area demonstrates some of the initial growth of the town, including the development and conversion of terraced streets into shopping areas.


There are a number of centres in Scunthorpe, which reflect how it grew over time; another is HUCA 7, which also contains a number of religious, civic and commercial areas. This area grew in a similar way to HUCA 1 and many of the terraced houses which were converted are still extant along the street; this area has also remained commercial after its initial growth in the early 20th century. HUCA 2 and 4 represent residential growth in Scunthorpe over the 20th century. They do not generally conform to historic boundaries and contain several large estates with small shopping areas, and schools built as part of the developments. The nature of the development of Scunthorpe over the 20th century also allowed for the planning of green space; this green space is present within housing estates and HUCA 3 is a large continuous area of such space which is located centrally in the west of the town. It connects with open areas in HUCA 2 and 4 to almost create a green belt through the town and provides important recreational areas for the people of Scunthorpe. HUCA 5 is a distinct character area towards the east of the town. It is an area of workers housing and was one of the first areas to be developed for the employees of the works. Its form reflects workers housing elsewhere in the country. HUCA 6 is also a planned council led development; it includes a central circular green area, tree-lined streets and wide shaped grass verges and is reflective of the garden city movement, which has also inspired further planning within the town. HUCA 8 and 9 are vital industrial zones of the town, encompassing much of the north and eastern parts of Scunthorpe. HUCA 9 represents the steel works, which dominates the skyline of the town and provides a large amount of identity, including the motto 'The heavens reflect our labours' referring to the light of the works which is reflected in the sky above the town, as well as the nickname of the local football team—‘The Iron’. As some of these works have been exhausted some of the former quarry sites have become nature reserves, including the Ashby Ville Nature Reserve and the Appleby Frodingham Ponds, which provide a unique opportunity to engage the public on the industrial past of the town. Overall, the character of Scunthorpe is of two halves; these are the heavy industry, as well as large areas of green space, woodland, tree-lined residential streets and recreational space.

Download the Scunthorpe EUS report using the button below.
Download the Scunthorpe Historic Environment Records using the button below.
Download the Scunthorpe HUCT Image Pack using the button below.
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