Historic Scotland
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Opening times

1 April to 30 September:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm

1 October to 31 March:
Closed

Check here for unexpected closures

Facilities

 

Overview

Imagine the heat and noise of Bonawe, the most complete charcoal-fuelled ironworks in Britain. Founded in 1753, it ceased firing only in the 1870s. Today, displays show every stage of how pig iron was made – as well as cannonballs for use in the Napoleonic Wars.

Bonawe’s stunning setting, at the head of Loch Etive, seems at odds with its industrial past. But the nearby Glen Nant National Nature Reserve is just one example of the Argyll woodland that Bonawe relied upon.

What to see and do

  • Soak up the splendour of Bonawe’s location, nestling beside Loch Etive and within sight of dramatic Glencoe
  • Marvel at the two cathedral-like charcoal sheds, whose architectural details reveal their Cumbrian builders’ origins
  • Learn the history of the iron furnace and the chemistry of iron making – and see cannonballs and iron pigs on display
  • View the furnace itself, still remarkably complete, but now missing its cold blast and hot pig iron
  • Visit the nearby Glen Nant National Nature Reserve and walk through the oak woods that supplied the fuel for Bonawe
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