Fulford battlefied under threat

July 2014 dig

The Fulford Tapestry

Smithing hearth

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Smithing hearth

Three [i] possible smithing hearth bottoms were identified, one being much smaller than the others. Such hearth bottom finds are not uncommon in urban excavations where metal working was an important trade.

“Eight examples of smithing hearth bottoms .. were noted … at Blue Bridge Lane; none were found at Fishergate House. At Blue Bridge Lane, the smithing hearth bottoms have an average weight of 455g, and are about 100mm wide at the widest and about 50mm deep. These sizes are comparable to contemporary examples at Coppergate and Fishergate (McDonnell 1992, 1993).”

Iron was shaped, by smithing or forging, as the technology to melt and cast iron was not known in Europe in the 11th century. The metal was heated in a hearth, fuelled with charcoal through which air was forced to raise the metal to a temperature that was judged suitable for shaping or forge-welding.

 

 

Si

P

S

V

Cr

Mn

Fe

Ni

Cu

9M 22

>11.27

0.29

0.03

0.07

0.00

0.29

98.07

0.00

0.04

10 80

>3.45

0.06

0.02

0.07

0.03

0.24

98.27

0.01

0.01

3LL 217

>6.72

>0.73

0.27

0.03

0.00

0.65

97.70

0.00

0.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XRF measurements of some of the hearth bottoms. Smithing hearth bottoms are formed in the high temperatures of a smithing hearth when iron compounds combine with silica (which is provided by minerals in the surrounding earth) and fluxes from the ash which remains when charcoal is burnt. The classic shape is plano-convex, with a curved base and flat upper surface. The convex shape conforms to the shape of the base of the vessel containing the charcoal. 

 

The location of the hearth bottoms away from any known buildings is an unusual feature of these finds. Their association with so much other debris such as slag, hearth fragments, metal-working tools, billets, fragments and, in one case, charcoal suggests that these items are still in their original context and have not been moved here. This is an important assumption since these items provide the ‘peg’ on which further interpretation hangs.

 

 

Small smithing hearth bottom: The hearth bottom is formed by iron-rich slag which settles to the base of the crucible-shaped bowl in which charcoal was heated to bring the material to a workable temperature. The base of the hearth is therefore a moulding from the furnace used. The technology of the time could not achieve the temperatures required to melt the hearth bottom so they were abandoned to the benefit of modern researchers. The number of small hearths found is not typical of those found elsewhere, which could suggest that this was not a long-term metalworking site.


[i] Another two possible smithing hearths were found but they are not reported here because they have not yet been associated with a range of related finds. We have not been allowed to return to search the area of these possible hearths which lie between zones 3 and 4.

 

 

There is a site devoted to saving the battlesite: The site has the story of the process that has allowed the site to be designated an access road to a Green Field, flood-plane housing estate. Visiting Fulford        Map York

And another website for the Fulford Tapestry that tells the story of the September 1066: This tells the story embroidered into the panels.

There is a blog covering these sites where you can leave questions and make comments.

The author of the content is Chas Jones - fulfordthing@gmail.com

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