Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sluice Gates and Grilles

Some more exciting developments at Wednesbury have taken place this week, following the decision to excavate over the other side of the wall. We have now revealed the remains of the sluice system which regulated water power on the site. The sluice gates were arranged around the outside of the main chimney, which itself protruded into the pond. Some of the wooden gates survive in situ between brick pillars.

Overhead view today looking south. General flow of water is from west to east (right to left on photo).

Interior view looking south, showing the southern sluice and grilles earlier today. These seem to have been at least partly rebuilt, and remained in use after the northern sluices were blocked off.

View of the interior of the northern sluices during cleaning on Tuesday.

Machining now continues in the area between the sluices and the wheelpits and tailraces. This 'island' between the two water-power channels is likely to see some of the earliest remains of the forge. This is really the last part of the site we have yet to explore. The aim is to excavate this area as fully as possible before the Open Days on 15th and 16th July

The area beneath where the machines are standing will be removed during the next week.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Forge Chimney

A couple of pictures taken on Friday afternoon at Wednesbury Forge. Now that we have completed recording of the nineteenth century remains, we have begun machining to reveal earlier horizons.

General view of the site awaiting removal of many of these flues, culverts and walls.

What's that coming out of the ground, is it a chimney?

Excavation to the west of the boundary wall has indeed revealed the truncated remains of a giant chimney. This is shown on the 1860s engraving as protruding into the pond, so its discovery suggests that our ideas about the location of the pond were out by about 5 metres. Unfortunately this means that the water wheel also shown on the engraving is likely to be lost beneath the 1960s office building to the north.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Wednesbury Forge

Excavations are of course continuing at Wednesbury Forge. We have now completed recording of the nineteenth century phases on this 5ha site, and are looking at eighteenth century (and possibly even seventeenth century) remains. Further machining expanded the area last week, revealing some more eighteenth century buildings. These are possibly associated with the existing cellars, which survive in fragmentary form under the security building.

Machining in progress down the northern side of the site, early last week...

View of the same area being cleaned at the end of last week, showing 18th century buildings

Excavation in the wheelpit area has found these substantial timbers, certainly 18th century and possibly earlier.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Upper Forge Interpretation

Here are a couple of photos of the 'interpretation' being installed on the Upper Forge (Boring Mill) picnic site. These features have been located over the remains of the steel furnaces, malthouse and tenements that we excavated last summer.

The back wall of the malthouse and tenements (re-using original stone from the building).

Circles showing the outline of the steel furnaces are picked out in modern bricks.

More information about the interpretation strategy will soon be posted on our Coalbrookdale blog. Many thanks to Chris Butler (Borough of Telford and Wrekin) for these photographs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

'Contemporary Archaeology' Van Project

Today the old archaeology van was transferred to its new keepers. It is going to the University of Bristol where it will be 'excavated' and analysed as part of a contemporary archaeology project being run by Cassandra Newland and John Schofield.

Cassie and John collecting the van earlier today.

More information about this unusual and controversial project can be found on our contemporary archaeology blog.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ditherington Flax Mill

This morning saw the commencement of test pits at Ditherington on behalf of English Heritage. Ditherington (built in 1796-7) is widely hailed as 'the first iron-framed building in the world'. It is of course not truly iron-framed, but contains an iron frame within a masonry structure. Nevertheless it is extremely important, and it is exciting to be involved with the site once again. Our recent work at Tean Hall Mills, another early 'fireproof' textile mill (built in 1823) will be particularly useful in making comparisons.

Some of the iron-framing. As on two of the floors at Tean Mills, the central columns here have been designed to take line shafting. At Ditherington this feature is only evident on the second floor.

Location of trenches on the southern side of the building

Trenches being opened up on the northern side of the mill

Foundation detail exposed in Trench 1. A wide sandstone base spreads the load over the natural clay. On this there are four spread courses of brick supporting the rest of the wall. There is about a metre of wall below ground.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Wilson House Farm

Recent work at Wilson House in Cumbria has been ongoing as a joint project with Cranstone Consultants of Gateshead. The site is of particular interest as the location of an experimental iron furnace run by the famous ironmaster John Wilkinson (sometimes known as 'Iron Mad Wilkinson'). Research by David Cranstone is being enhanced through building recording and monitoring of conversion of some of the farm buildings into holiday accommodation.

Unusually early use of brick for a farm building in Cumbria.

Further information on the results of our invest- igations will be available soon.