Thursday, November 29, 2012

Secrets of an Iron Age smith

Ironworking may have been carefully controlled knowledge in the Iron Age, leaving the uninitiated wondering whether it involved divine power, higher knowledge, or perhaps even magic.  If so, the Iron Age smiths kept their secrets well, for the scarcity of direct archaeological evidence leaves many questions about how they practiced their craft.  New finds at Beechwood Farm, Inverness may help to reveal these ancient techniques, and provide new perspectives on metalworking in northern Scotland.   As well as ironworking debris in the form of slag the site has yielded an unusual find: the remains of a clay-lined furnace, a feature that only rarely survives in the archaeological record.

The excavation, conducted by AOC Archaeology Group, has unearthed evidence showing that activity on the site stretches back to before the age of metal, into the Neolithic. Early prehistoric artefacts have also been recovered, including a selection of pottery sherds and quern stones used for grinding grain into flour.

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