9 June 2009

Fe09 "Footprints of Industry" Conference

After a great deal of hard work - both in preparation and during the five days of the event itself - the conference is finally over! By all accounts it went extremely well, and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet a wide range of colleagues from all over the world. We had about 85 individual delegates, averaging about 70 actually in attendance on each of the five days. These included an evening opening with a lecture by Michael Darby and a wine reception, three very full days of papers, and a final day of tours. Plus a party on the Friday night with about 100 in attendance and lots of Celidh dancing; as well as a final conference dinner on the Saturday and so-on.

I am still recovering... and too tired to go into a long and detailed report, so for now here are a few photos of some of my highlight moments, all taken by Katie, who I think had a better time than I did since she was able to do all the usual conference conversation and networking without being distracted by various requests.

This was the evening meal after the opening night on the Wednesday, naturally enough in the Coalbrookdale Inn.

It was absolutely fantastic to see Ron again, and here we are posing at the landscaped site of our epic steel furnace excavations which took place in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Both looking rather smarter than we ever did in those days, and rightly proud of our achievements at the Upper Forge.

As conference organiser I was largely deprived of many of the perks of conference going - such as being able to chat about archaeology to colleagues! However in a rare free moment (away from sorting out broken projectors, faulty toilets, missing presentations, virus-laden memory sticks, food supply and so-on), I had one of the my real highlights of the conference. This was extended discussion with Ian Burrow of Hunter Research Inc. (New Jersey) about their recently-discovered 18th century steel furnace. In an historic moment here are the only four people in the world who have excavated 18th century cementation furnaces: Ron Ross (L), Ian Burrow, myself and David Cranstone:

Marilyn Palmer and David Cranstone presented me with a bottle of port on the last day of the conference as a "thank you" for organising it... I was extremely grateful and quite moved by the warm applause.

The Sunday post-conference tour took place in six hours of continuous heavy rain. Most people had decided to go home early anyway, so numbers were rather depleted. At this stage we had been en route for about two-and-a-half hours and were already rather soggy. L-R: Pablo Sanchez (Spain), Colin Axon (Oxford), me, Gerhard Ermischer (Germany), Andrew Passmore (Exeter), Alan Levitt (USA) and L H Verseldt (Netherlands).

More in due course - including some of the exciting outcomes of the conference, tomorrow's further meeting with Ian Burrow, and Brian Dix on sixteenth century sundials.

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