National Slag Collection

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The National Slag Collection is a resource primarily of interest to those engaged in researching early metallurgy through physical remains. It is the property of Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT) and is subject to a Memorandum of Agreement between the Trust and the Historical Metallurgy Society.

The catalogue provides a fully illustrated listing of the material in the collection. It also contains background information about the collection, a guide to how to use the catalogue, and instructions on how to access the collection. This document was prepared by David Dungworth with the assistance of Eddie Birch, Eleanor Blakelock, Matthew Nicholas and the HMS Archives and Collections Committee in 2009.

The National Slag Collection originated from the private collections of several members of the Historical Metallurgy Society, such as Reg Morton and Michael Davies-Shiel. Substantial quantities of material were also deposited in the late 1970s and early 1980s at the invitation of Stuart Smith by Leo Biek of the Ancient Monuments Laboratory, part of the Department of the Environment's DAMHB (Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings), before deposition of complete excavation archives became the norm. The collection contains material from archaeological excavations as well as more casual surface finds.

The Collection includes numerous samples from sites in the West Midlands and the North West. The early stage of iron manufacture is well represented by bloom smelting slags and these are complemented by a range of blacksmithing slags. The post-medieval blast-furnace slags in the Collection are one of its most valuable assets. Blast-furnace slags have been collected from fifty-eight different sites including those using charcoal and those using coke. The coke-fired blast furnaces represented in the National Slag Collection include early examples, as well as later ones where heat was recovered and used to pre-heat the blast. The secondary iron producing processes associated with the blast furnace, i.e. finery, chafery, puddling and founding, are represented in the collection although some of these slags are unprovenanced,

Download the National Slag Collection Catalogue (pdf)

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