Throughout 2004, PM10 concentrations were measured at 10 min intervals at Hazelrigg, a remote location in NW England. The annual mean concentration was 6.1 μg m−3 and likely origins were determined using directional and particle size characteristics. The fine temporal resolution of the monitoring also allowed several short periods (< 20 h) of persistently high PM10 concentration to be identified and then ‘typed’ by event start time, duration, wind direction and particle size characteristics. A series of night time PM10 anomalies (concentration < 465 μg m−3) of no obvious source were identified, and by elimination assumed to have originated from a ground-based fire of particle-rich fodder. A novel methodology combining Stokes' Law with systematic and rigorous modelling of source strength (using ADMS3.2) was developed to locate a possible burn site. The process was limited by the lack of previous modelling studies related to ground-based fires, and also by the capacity of ADMS3.2 to model sub-hourly time-varying emissions and fluctuations in wind speed and direction in the near field. However, modelling did suggest the source was located <400 m SSE of Hazelrigg, and investigation of this area revealed a burn site where tyres and plastic bags were piled nearby. Few studies have combined directional analysis and modelling to locate a source based on sampled data. This innovative methodology could be used by regulatory bodies to investigate the origins of unidentified PM10 observed within the particle record.