Friday, January 20, 2006

Old slags from Coalbrookdale

Analysis of slags and furnace lining discovered during the 2005 excavations at the Upper Forge are now being analysed by the English Heritage Centre for Archaeology at Fort Cumberland.

The work is being undertaken by David Dungworth. Five samples from the site have been taken for preliminary analysis - the one shown above is part of the lining of the first steel furnace in England. Other samples included reside from the furnace, later iron forging residues and some copper ore.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Boring Mill Pool

The relandscaping of the 'Upper Forge Picnic Site' (the location of our excavations from 2001-2005) not only includes backfilling of the archaeological excavation but also the restoration of the Boring Mill Pool.

This pool was originally the 'Middle Forge Pool', supplying water to the second of four forges in use in Coalbrookdale by the mid-seventeenth century. It possibly has its origins in the mid-1500s - during the 2004 season of excavations we found some sixteenth century pottery here.

During the eighteenth century the pool was enlarged. This enlargement was partly to increase the supply reservoir for the newly created Boring Mill - a conversion of the Middle Forge for precision turning of cast-iron cylinders. It also pooled water for recycling back up the 'Dale (pumped by the 'Resolution' steam engine).

This photo shows the pool earlier this week after being cleaned and desilted to a maximum depth of 2 metres. This work was archaeologically monitored but no artefacts were found during the desilting operations. Previous work (in 2004 and 2005) had recovered a fragment of timber and a wide range of pottery. However we did discover the top of the western wall of the pond, which was rebuilt in the early nineteenth century.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Finally, after several months of sorting out the details, backfilling of the archaeological excavations at the Upper Forge is now taking place.

Backfilling in progress on Tuesday

A layer of sand is being used to cover the steel furnaces and associated features, as well as the malthouse kiln floor and other sensitive areas.

The main fill is of course the spoil removed during excavations, which is being screened for building materials to be used in the interpretation. Although this is a sad moment for us as archaeologists, at least we know that the remains are still there, and are preserved for future generations. Their discovery has added tremendously to our knowledge and understanding of seventeenth century Coalbrookdale.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Upper Forge Post-Excavation

Post-excavation work on the Upper Forge is proceeding apace. This has involved collation of data and map work as well as potwashing and finds analysis.

This photo was kindly supplied by the engineers' office of the Borough of Telford and Wrekin, who took it in August at the conclusion of our excavation. The second (earlier) steel furnace is clearly visible as the circular stucture with the diagonal flue within the later malthouse / tenement walls.