Iron Age furnace

Iron Age iron smelting furnaces in Berkshire

Iron Age furnaceIron Age iron smelting furnace, Wokingham

The excavation of some Iron Age  iron smelting furnaces near Wokingham for West Sussex Archaeology is a major current project. The furnaces have a wide flat floor, they are over a metre in diameter and have a broad arch with a large raking pit.  They therefore have some morphological similarities with the later Roman domed furnaces of SE England.

The site has two furnaces sites. One was almost completely destroyed by a modern pit. The other has an early furnace that was demolished and filled with slag and the debris from its superstructure, with a replacement furnace constructed over it and just 0.5m further west, so that it was able to use the same raking pit and slag dumps. The two furnaces are aligned and bounded by short lengths of shallow ditch.

Iron Age iron smelting site near WokinghamIron Age iron smelting site near Wokingham


The first furnace cleared of its contents

The first furnace cleared of its contents


Update 17.8.14:  Excavation of the first furnace showed that it had a similar form to its successor. The clay wall of the pit was vertical and horseshoe shaped in plan. The arch was effectively the entire width of the pit and defined externally by a pair of large furnace-bottom slag blocks, oriented vertically.

2 thoughts on “Iron Age iron smelting furnaces in Berkshire”

  1. I was interested to see your blog on Wokingham’s iron smelting. There are a number of streams to the South of Wokingham, which I have seen described in a Victorian journal as chalybite. These streams, especially in Gorrick Wood, still run a rusty red colour. Where were your excavations?

  2. Hi Bill. The work was in advance of development at Folly Court, SW of Wokingham. There are several other excavated Iron Age iron smelting sites in the same general area – in Arborfield, Finchampstead, Sindlesham etc.

Comments are closed.