Ref: 1656

About the Award

In collaboration with the University of Exeter's Archaeology Department, the Wealden Iron Research Group (WIRG) is seeking to establish a UK/EU PhD studentship to work primarily with their data but including all available sources to address a broad subject area.

The Organisation of Iron Production: the Weald in Pre-Roman and Roman times

The region known as the Weald, spanning Sussex, Kent and Surrey, is recognised as a centre of intense iron production in the past, in particular during the Roman and post-medieval periods. During the early Roman occupation, and again, in the 16th and early-17th centuries, the Weald was the most important iron-producing region in the British Isles. Over 800 iron-making sites have been identified in the Weald, and more are discovered each year. The Wealden Iron research Group (WIRG) is a well-established research group dedicated to investigating and disseminating knowledge of the role the Weald has played in the development of metals technology in Britain ( Amongst its achievements is the publication of the standard reference work on the subject, The Iron Industry of the Weald, by Henry Cleere and David Crossley in 1985. As well as being actively involved in field survey, excavation and experimental iron smelting, the group has amassed a substantial database which is available online,  

Under the broad heading of the studentship (the Organisation of Iron Production: the Weald in Pre-Roman and Roman times) a number of potential research questions can be defined.

  • How does the distribution of production sites correlate with the location of settlements and fortified sites, communication routes and the region's geology, both geographically and chronologically?
  • What evidence exists for the evolution and dissemination of production processes both geographically and chronologically?
  • Can slag morphology be used as chronological evidence and, if so, what characterises pre-Roman, Roman and post-Roman contexts?
  • How has our understanding of the production of iron and organisation of the industry advanced since the publication of Cleere and Crossley’s The Iron Industry of the Weald in 1985?

We are seeking candidates with an interest in archaeo-metallurgy and the archaeology of metal production who are able to develop their own research proposal that addresses some aspect of the broad subject area. The research questions above are intended as guidance and candidates are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with the work of WIRG and the archaeology of the Weald. This can be done through the WIRG web site and by direct contact in person. We are looking for a proposal that defines clear research aims (without being overly ambitious), engages with existing data and material and describes the methodology that would be applied. Candidates should note that the emphasis of their project should be weighted towards field and macro-morphological studies rather than complex laboratory analysis, although the latter is not excluded. While academic supervision of the project will be based at Exeter there is an expectation of close collaboration with WIRG throughout the project with an aspiration to publish results, with WIRG support, on completion.  The primary supervisor will be Dr Gill Juleff, with a second supervisor from within Archaeology based on compatibility of expertise.

Duration and value of award

The studentship will be for a period of 3 years and will cover full Home/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £13,863.

For further information, including how to apply, please see