Showing our metal

Archaeometallurgy! Long word, great fun, as any students on the past few years' courses will tell you.

The course is run by the amazingly knowledgeable and creative Dr Eleanor Blakelock, whose deep knowledge of ancient metals and how to work them comes from a variety of sources. Ellie brings all of this experience to this six-day course, which in 2018 will be run in Week 6, commencing Sunday 5 August (see here for further information and bookings).

Here is 2017's happy band of metal-workers, and the beautiful iron-smelting furnace they made. (Note for those interested in joining us for 2018: tribal face-paint is encouraged, but not compulsory.)

The merrie band of metalworkers

The focus of the 2017 course was iron-smelting. This was done in a furnace made from scratch, using clay and locally sourced muck. It was a bit of work, but enjoyed by all.

Ellie says: "This course will comprise of informal on-site tutorials which will introduce all aspects of the prehistoric and historic production of metal, along with the human relationship that developed with this process. We cover raw materials, smelting technology, casting and metalworking techniques. The course is tailored to the student attending, with discussions on site in groups or on a one to one basis if the student has a particular interest. In addition to the new knowledge gained, each student will get to take away at least one metal object that they have designed and cast themselves."

In 2017 the archaeometallurgy students bonded over mud, muck and metal. They worked long days but had a great time, creating cuttle-fish moulds and pouring their own molten metal from an open hearth. The adventure culminated in the day of iron smelting in the furnace they made from scratch, putting on a spectacular light-show for the whole campsite as night fell.

Mixing mud and muck for bricks

Building the smelter

The result: symbols for iron and fire

Hard at work bellowing (and face-painting)

Working metal as night falls

The magic fire of metal-working