Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Eighteenth century water power

More and more culverts are being revealed by our excavations at Wednesbury Forge. The complexity of the eighteenth century water management system has to be seen to be believed... and even then we are still not yet entirely sure what is going on!

General view of the 'mother' culvert (running across the photo)

This culvert was certainly in existence by the beginning of the nineteenth century, and this end of the site was developed on top of the culverts. Behind the 'mother culvert' in the photo above are two sister culverts, and they all meet off to the right of the photo.

The picture below shows how the walls of later buildings overlying the culverts have been constructed with relieving arches to carry the weight over the culvert. Two culverts meet at this point, one of the sister culverts and a subsidiary one.

The culverts are in two phases, but all of the overlying walls appear to be of one build.

This floor is associated with an 18th century building, and directly overlies one of the earlier culverts.

It is interesting that this stage of the Wednesbury excavations co-incides with the monitoring we are doing on the water-power system of similar age in Coalbrookdale. For more information on the Coalbrookdale Watercourses project scroll down here, or visit the Coalbrookdale blog.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Upper Forge Sluices

We have continued our monitoring of the watercourses project, and a full selection of photos is now to be seen on the Coalbrookdale blog.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Coalbrookdale Watercourses

Engineering work has finally commenced on the final phase of the Coalbrookdale Watercourses Project - the restoration of the Upper Forge Sluices and the final renovation of the Upper Forge Picnic Site (Boring Mill), also the scene of the excavations last summer.

View from the road. The large tube is for temporary diversion of the flow during the work.

At the moment the main task is simply getting into the sluices site. Although all the trees were cut down last year (and you can now see the railway retaining wall very clearly [above]), there is a lot of earth and other material to move out of the way before consolidation work can start. We will be closely monitoring this project over the next couple of months, as it will provide us with an important understanding of the development and phasing of the Upper Forge Pool and associated sluices. More information is available on our Coalbrookdale blog.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesbury Forge

The excavations have been delayed slightly by inclement weather, but a large area is now opened and we are finishing off recording elements of the nineteenth century forge complex. Perhaps the most remarkable discoveries have been the enormous culverts (approximately 4 metres in diameter) at the western end of the site, part of the water power system. We also have a convoluted and complex network of flues serving various furnaces and grinding areas. So far we have identified more than 8 different grinding wheel pits of various shapes and sizes.

Looking over the southern part of the excavation, with brick-lined and concrete grinding pits.

The central part of the site. Brick boiler base in the foreground, replacing water-power features to the right. The 'spaghetti junction' part of the flue network is in middle distance.

A pair of relatively recent grinding wheel emplacements in the foreground, and part of one of the culverts looming in the background.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tean Hall update

We are now in the process of recording the timber frame of the old hall, and some of the interior details. Our drawn record will supplement the architect's photographic record. The timber framing has a number of phases. Some of it may even pre-date the early 17th century date of the hall, and perhaps belongs to a late-medieval barn. Some of it is clearly 18th century in origin and seems to have been brought in wholesale from somewhere else.

Looking up from a mid-18th century panelled room to earlier 18th century joists

The door in the attic with pit-sawn boards and lovely old lock.

Other eighteenth century elements (from the later brick-built part of the hall) are also quite interesting. This fireplace shows at least three phases of use, blocking and re-use.

Fireplace on the ground floor

Monday, May 15, 2006

Calcutts, Jackfield

We are currently undertaking work on the site of a former tile factory at Calcutts in Jackfield. Of particular interest is that this is potentially the site of the historic 'Jackfield Rails', some of the earliest railways in the country dating from the seventeenth century. Here is a picture of one of the twentieth century kilns on site, further reports to follow!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Ironbridge World Heritage Conference

We were very pleased to be involved in the exciting World Heritage Conference at Ironbridge last weekend. The conference went extremely well and enabled new contacts to be made and existing ones to be strengthened. Of particular interest was contribution to, and discussion about, community archaeology with colleagues from the United States and elsewhere. It was also nice to see Charlotte Andrews from the Bermuda Maritime Museum, and we had some interesting discussions about archaeology on Bermuda (for which see the items on our Bermuda and Contemporary archaeology blogs).

So congratulations to John Carman, David de Haan, Roger White and their colleagues at Birmingham and Ironbridge for an excellent conference.