HMS AGM 2017


Saturday 17th June 2017
Institute of Archaeology,
UCL, London
Organised by Eleanor Blakelock


The Historical Metallurgy Society in conjunction with the Portable Antiquities Scheme would like to invite submissions for papers for a study day on the metallurgy of our portable heritage. This meeting is aimed at a wide variety of contributors, from archaeological metallurgists, excavators, post-excavation specialists and PAS officers. The meeting is for open to anyone interested in finding out more about metal objects; be they gold, silver, copper alloy or iron.

The day will also include some invited speakers, but proposals for oral papers related to metallurgical aspects of the following topics are welcome:
• Using the PAS data for the analysis and/or interpretation of metal objects or assemblages
• Manufacture and use of small metal objects
• Recent work on small find assemblages from excavations
• New metal finds both from excavations and the PAS
• Metal conservation of our portable heritage

The registration fee is £25 which also includes all tea/coffee breaks and lunch (£20 for students). The HMS AGM is being held at 1pm and is free for all members, but please contact the organiser below in advance.

Link to programme is here and the abstract book is available here

This meeting is now SOLD OUT! Contact the organiser if you would like to be added to a reserve list.

For more information please contact Eleanor Blakelock at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Experimental Event

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Saturday 26th November 2016
Down Farm, Cranborne
Gill Juleff and Jake Keen


HMS, with Exeter University and the generous support of the GB Sasakawa Foundation, is pleased to be hosting three visitors from Japan. To give those interested in learning more about historical metallurgy in Japan as well as experimental smelting both here and in Japan, we are holding an informal day meeting centered around an experimental smelt by Jake Keen. The smelt will be outdoors but there is also a barn with tea-making facilities, power points and seating where there will be an opportunity to network with Professor Murakami and Yasufumi Sasazawa and Seiji Manabe. There may also be an opportunity for participants to join a guided tour of the archaeological sites and museum at Down Farm during the day.

Numbers will be limited, so if you are interested in attending please email Gill Juleff This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to secure your place or for more information.

Location: Martin Green’s Down Farm, Sixpenny Handley, Dorset SP5 5RY (grid reference ST 999 149). Turn off the A354 signposted Wimborne St Giles. Continue a short distance along this road. Take the tarmac lane on the right (signposted "Down Farm"). The farm is past the cottages on the right-hand side.


This event has kindly been sponsored by the Sasakawa foundation

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Anniversary of Cyfarthfa Ironworks


17th-19th June 2016
Merthyr Tydfil
Tim Young

 This meeting celebrates two separate anniversaries

  • 250th anniversary of the construction of Cyfarthfa Ironworks (1765-7)

  • 225th anniversary of the first successful commercial implementation of the puddling process (1791)

Based in the Merthyr Tydfil area, this conference will discuss a range of related toptics including the story of puddling (technology, economics, social history, engineering implications, international adoption), as well as the wider story of iron conversion technology and the broader development, social history and context of the iron industry in Merthyr Tydfil and South Wales from 1750 to 1950. There will also be discussion of the development of Cyfarthfa Ironworks and its people (Bacon, the Homfrays, the Crawshays, their engineers and partners).

On Friday before the conference starts there is a rare opportunity to visit Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine (book early as numbers limited). On Sunday there will be another excursion through the sites of the Taff Valley in Merthyr, excursion on foot (approx 7km) but transfer between many of the sites may be made by car. Sites to be visited include:

  • Merthyr (Penydarren) Tramroad tunnel,
  • Ynysfach Ironworks,
  • Chapel Row,
  • Cyfarthfa Ironworks

More information about the anniversaries, and ironworks and the call for papers is available here.

The provisional programme is here and details of the presentations here.

Link to booking form is here (this also includes travel and accommodation information). Online bookings are now open, if you are attending the AGM this is free but if you would like lunch get in touch with Tim Young.

Accommodation is not provided by the society and it is suggested that delegates book into the Premier Inn adjacent to the conference venue, as early as possible to receive cheaper prices.

For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Research in Progress Meeting

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Tuesday 29th November 2016
University of Birmingham
Eleanor Blakelock

This meeting is aimed at a wide variety of contributors, from historical and archaeological metallurgists to excavators, historians and economists. If you are working, or have just finished working, on a project related to archaeological or historical metallurgy, we would like to hear from you. We are particularly interested in bringing together contract and public sector archaeologists with academic researchers, and in fostering links between the different disciplines studying metallurgy and related activities. Whether you are a student, a researcher, an interested non-specialist, or a professional excavator, we invite you to meet others working in this field and present your research to an interested community.

A prize is awarded for the best presentation by a student (or recent graduate within 12 months of graduation) at the meeting as chosen by those members of HMS Council present.

NEW! In addition to the prize, The Historical Metallurgy Society is offering a small number of travel bursaries for students presenting papers. If you are a student and would like to be considered please indicate with your submission.

The event will be held in room GC 17 in Metallurgy and Materials Building. This is building G6 on the University campus map, the event is taking place in C Block. A link to the map can be found here.

Link to provisional programme is available here

Online booking for this event is now closed, as there are limited places available. If you wish to attend please contact me using the email below to ensure there is a seat available.

For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Twice a year the Archives and Collections Committee (ACC) run a study/work day at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. 

The study/work day is based on two topics: care of the archive collection, particularly the Ronnie Tylecote photographic archive and care of the slag collection. After brief introductions the day will mainly consist of workshops with ‘hands on’ work. In the archive with sorting photographs and assisting with storage for the safe care of the images, and in the warehouse sorting, identifying, re-boxing and cataloguing the Tylecote Slag Collection.

The date for the next event is the ...

To be confirmed! But will be held at The Long Warehouse, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Telford, Shropshire TF8 7DQ.

For further details of future events please contact Eddie Birch (Tel 01226 370331) or Louise Bacon This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Having enlisted as a volunteer with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum to be involved with industrial archeology projects in the Gorge, I was forwarded the notice for the Historical Metallurgy Society Archives and Slag Collections open day. As a conservator specialising in metals, I have known about HMS for many years, but the open day, held almost on my doorstep, sounded intriguing, too good to miss, and provided the spur to join at last.

The day started with a welcome and brief introduction to the archives from Louise Bacon to the small group of us attending the open day, some like myself, new to the Society's activities and others who were established HMS activists. Louise gave us a description of the archive and its care.

David Dungworth followed with a description of the slag collections and for those of us new to the HMS, it was fascinating to learn from the two speakers, how much has been achieved in such a relatively short time, and it was pleasing to learn that there is such a close collaboration between the Society and the Ironbridge Institute.

Despite the two introductions, I still did not quite know what to expect when we were about to start the hands on workshop sessions. It soon became apparent though! I started with the paper and photographs group and a daunting quantity of partially archived material, mostly photographs, with some notes and a few reports that comprise the Tylecote archive. The earlier archiving had assembled the material into logical associations, but it needed our second sweep to refine it into directly related material, and for me at least, there was lots of 'ah, yes, this photo of a hole in the ground with a bit of a lintel is the same as one I saw earlier but from a different position - now where did I put that?' Very quickly we started working as a team, cross checking with each other, and the personal recollections of the 'old hands' were invaluable, often making sense of indecipherable images. Gradually things started to fall into place, and even link up with objects the slag collection group were finding.

After a break for lunch, a visit to the Museum of Iron and a walk around the old foundry site with Shane Kelleher of the Institute, who gave us an insight into the objects on display, the history and archeology of the site, most of us swapped activities and I went into the chilly stores to pick though boxes of slags, ores and a few bits of actual metal.

The materials are all part of the Tylecote Slag Collection, which is a distinct historical collection housed at the Institute, but owned by HMS, as opposed to the National Slag Collection, which is owned by the Institute, although both the Institute and HMS have a say in what is added to the National Slag Collection.

The Tylecote Collection was kept in an ad hoc selection of boxes in the Institute's stores. In the boxes were plastic bags of samples, labelled in various ways and our task was to catalogue them. The samples were re-bagged in numbered bags which corresponded with new archival boxes and the information was entered up by David Dungworth on a database as we progressed. Deciphering some of the labels in, shall we say 'distinctive' handwriting on damaged labels was a challenge, but again, the 'old hands' were often able to come to the rescue, recognising a vital clue and recalling a past expedition.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, it was informative, fascinating, friendly, there is much more to do, but there was a sense of making a useful contribution and a job well done. I was a bit worried about how I'd tell my friends at 'The Golden Ball Debating and Philosophical Society' how I had spent my Saturday. Given the potential for puns on the main object of our attention, there aren't many ways that don't leave you open to ribaldry, but, to their credit, they didn't sink to the occasion and were genuinely interested - a bit mystified, maybe, but interested.

Review written by Andrew Naylor for The Crucible 83




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