Application of Archaeological Geophysical Techniques to the Investigation of British Smelting Sites: PhD Thesis, University of Bradford (2004)

Robert Vernon, 2007

Data copyright © Robert Vernon unless otherwise stated


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Robert Vernon (2007) Application of Archaeological Geophysical Techniques to the Investigation of British Smelting Sites: PhD Thesis, University of Bradford (2004) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000101

Abstract

Many archaeological researchers regard the magnetic anomalies produced by a furnace, or a slag dump, as the most a magnetometer survey can reveal about a smelting site. The research presented in this Thesis has shown this not to be correct. By conducting an in-depth examination of the geophysical responses produced by the different stages in the various metallurgical processes the research has confirmed that smelting sites can be geophysically evaluated to a greater extent than previously achieved.

Iron smelting sites, from bloomeries through to water-powered blast furnaces, were surveyed. From the survey data it was possible to determine the furnace size, the tapping channel and tuyere positions and sometimes an indication of the state of furnace preservation. On complex smelting sites water-leats, furnace buildings, ore roasting hearths, charcoal production platforms, and storage areas were identified.

In contrast, the geophysical surveys over lead, copper and tin smelting sites showed that they can produce a variety of responses that may be dependant on the smelting technique, the local geology or even the way the ore was prepared prior to smelting.

Comparisons were also made between the mass magnetic susceptibility of slag from each process in the laboratory, and this has shown that in certain circumstances it may indicate the smelting process that produced the slag.

A methodology was developed that allowed the sites to be surveyed and assessed quickly. This confirmed, and elaborated on, the topographical observations and enabled the sites to be placed in their archaeological landscape setting.