Research in Progress Meeting

Colour Horizontal

Thursday 9th November 2017
University of Liverpool
Organised by Dr Matthew Ponting and his students


The Research in Progress meetings are aimed at a wide variety of contributors, from historical and archaeological metallurgists to excavators, historians and economists. Presentations were given on a range of topics, from a variety of speakers in a friendly environment.

The HMS prize is awarded for the best presentation by a student at the meeting was awarded to Alan Williams for his research on 'Characterising Bronze Age copper from the Great Orme mine to reveal its spatial and temporal distribution'.

 Link to the programme is here

Photo gallery

23316662 1756262517725260 2726129545757638553 n 23509142 10159539686885032 3255274557539698533 o



The 2017 Historical Metallurgy Research in Progress meeting was held at the University of Liverpool on the 9th of November. Held in a Faculty library the meeting was well attended with a great environment.

The meeting kicked off with the first talk ‘The spatial organisation of Roman Lead production in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire’ given by student Nicholas Clarke. Using chemical analysis it was possible to look at relative difference in lead content of the soil with a Roman fort and surrounding vicus. This revealed a larger concentration of lead within the fort itself, perhaps showing where the lead is being stored or potentially from when the workers washed their clothes.

The next talk was by Alan Williams on ‘Characterising Bronze Age copper from the Great Orme mine to reveal its spatial and temporal distribution’. This presentation discussed the potential wide ranging trade networks within Britain using a new methodology for looking at mine based metal groups rather than artefact based groups, using chemical composition and lead isotopes.

In Vanda Morton’s presentation ‘Types of evidence available at successive periods and places, for the production, use and trade of brass, up to AD1800’ we were given a wide sweeping overlook at brass production over time. The presentation focused primarily on the different clues hidden in a range of evidence, from archaeology and artefacts to documents and paintings.

After a short break Peter Claughton provided an insightful presentation on the ‘Iron and steel production during the First World War’. This talk discussed the production of iron and changes of the ores sourced for the industry, from imported to home production. In addition the demands of war meant that many skilled workers were drawn into military service, and the consequences were shown in this presentation.

From Poland Kamila Brodowska came to share her experiences of the extremely large bloomer fields in a presentation entitled ‘From fieldwork to experiment - what we know today about ancient furnaces from The Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy, Poland’. The amazing archaeological evidence was then followed by results of experimental work at the Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy to build an understanding of the processes involved.

The next talk was given by Peter Gethin on ‘Compositional trends within diagnostic and non-diagnostic smithing slag assemblages; examining contemporary materials from Middle Islamic Tell Dhiban and the Old City of Jerusalem’. He presented the results from the analysis of smithing slags to investigate any differences between the two sites.

Lunch was provided within the library which allowed for networking. Following lunch there was an opportunity to visit the Garstang Museum of Archaeology which consists of archaeological artefacts, from the ancient Near East, Mediterranean and Europe.

After lunch we had three presentations from colleagues from the University of Liverpool on the recent research of ancient coinage. The first talk given by Jake Morley-Stone was on ‘Late Pre-Roman Iron Age pellet moulds from Scotch Corner’ which detailed experimental work carried out to investigate the production and use of pellet moulds, and providing comparative material for comparison with those from Scotch Corner. The next talk given by Nicola George was also based on ‘Experiments in Roman minting technology’, here she investigated how different mould materials affected the process of inverse segregation seen in many debased coins. The final talk of the day was by Diana Nikolova who discussed the ‘Debasement and Economic Fluctuation in Hellenistic Egypt: Chemical Analysis of Ptolemaic Coinage’ and introduced an alternative methodology for the examination of the Ptolemaic economy by investigating the composition of silver and bronze coins, and their amount of debasement.

All in all a fantastic day, with excellent presentations and a really friendly environment. The student presentation as usual were excellent and this made it difficult for the HMS council members top choose a best presentation, however we felt that Alan Williams presentation with well argued discussion and contribution to a larger debate was worthy of the HMS student prize. Thanks must go to Mathew Ponting and his team of students for arranging a successful and interesting meeting.

 Review written by Eleanor Blakelock for The Crucible 96