An investigation into phosphoric iron production in Eastern England

Hall, Neil Stewart (2017) An investigation into phosphoric iron production in Eastern England. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Looking at iron slags from Eastern England, this thesis was designed to assess the possibility of inferring the ore type in use by the chemical composition of the slag. A number of case studies are examined. The first is a group of material from the Foulness Valley, East Yorkshire, which is known to be produced from high phosphorus bog ore. This allows direct comparison between this and other assemblages, based on phosphorus content, to infer if bog or bedded ore was in use. Assemblages from Iron Age East Yorkshire, Roman Caistor St Edmund and the Saxon sites of Quarrington and Flixboroughwere examined to infer on ore exploitation and possible metal production.

The background examination provides a definition of phosphoric iron based upon its material properties and the parameters which govern the creation of the alloy. Further discussion of ore exploitation and the reasoning behind why smelting sites are more difficult to locate are covered, while the current direction of research is examined. The body of experimental work is discussed with notable case studies drawn upon to demonstrate where the literature concentrates its focus. This allows for the suggestion of future possibilities based upon the impacts of these works.

An experimental smelt was carried out in order to inform on the processes and record observations which helped to dictate the choices made on raw material selection. The experimental material was analysed alongside archaeological slags produced from the same ore, and treated in the same way as the material used in the archaeological case studies.

The selection criteria applied to the archaeological assemblages, based on morphology and perceived mass are outlined. A description of the preparation methods for sample examination follows. The physics of electron microscopy are then discussed covering the various effects which govern the generation of the characteristic x-rays which are responsible for the chemical composition data.

Each of the case study assemblages are dealt with individually presenting photographs of the pieces before sampling and backscattered electron images of the material. As this is the first scientific analysis conducted upon the Saxon assemblages from Quarrington and Flixborough, the data generated provides critical, new insight into Early Medieval iron production.

The data using phase composition and phosphorus content are presented on a site by site basis before being assembled into an overall synthesis which further clarifies the inferences of different ore exploitation. Further comparisons of phosphorus and sulphur content are used to demonstrate the use of the bog ore and Frodingham Ironstone available at Flixborough.

The interpretation of the data is then drawn upon for final conclusions and inferences of ore exploitation and the identification of ironstone use at Flixborough which further supports the archaeological and historical evidence for this practice from the 7th century A.D.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Pearce, Mark
Henderson, Julian
Keywords: Iron, Iron smelting, Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
T Technology > TS Manufactures
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 42308
Depositing User: Hall, Neil
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2018 10:31

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