19 June 2009

Post-medieval and Roman ironworking

My excursion on Wednesday involved visits to an 18th- and 19th-century forge site in Worcester, and a return visit to Roger's site in Shropshire. At the latter they have now excavated the circular feature shown in the previous post (see below, or here).

I had to sadly dash Roger's initial hopes that this may have been a bloomery... it is far too large, too deep and there is absolutely no sign of in-situ burning or heating. The fill is a mixture of charcoal and smithing slag - nothing too obviously from smelting activities but it was difficult to tell from the uncleaned items which I saw on site. There is also a large quantity of Roman pottery: Samian and greyware are evident in the tray on the left in the photo above.

The visit to Roger's site followed one to a very interesting project a little further south. Here there is a long-established forge on a stream, and the local group there have found the base of a reheating furnace. I made a visit in conjuction with other colleagues of the Historical Metallurgy Society, including David Starley and Peter King, as well as the county archaeologist.

Once again hopes were dashed by the visit, as the excavators had wondered if they might have encountered a puddling furnace. However, after a great deal of discussion and debate, the consensus emerged that this was the remains of a pair of more conventional re-heating furnaces. Probably of 19th century date. One was clearly in use later than the other (pictured); the earlier one had a large quantity of slag in the base but had been much robbed out.

Work continues on both sites, but not for much longer...

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