This appears to fit with a previous interpretation of the site being used for metal working. Back in 2009 a large rectilinear building (see figure 1) was uncovered that dated to the 16th century. After consideration it was suggested that due to the lack of domestic assemblages this building was a series of separate workshops. Previous students studying Archaeological Science, analysed the soil material surrounding a stone hearth found inside the building and found evidence of copper, lead and zinc among other metals.
|Fig. 1: Rectangular workshops|
The hearth (figure 2) was located in the far room within the building and had two distinct phases. The second phase (figure 3) was comprised of a layer of large stones arranged to form a small square, which had cracked due to the intense heat needed to work with the metals. The stones underneath this layer made up the original first phase of the hearth (figure 4) and consisted of smaller stones tightly packed again forming a small square. When these were finally lifted the clay beneath showed clear evidence of prolonged and intense burning at high temperatures.
|Fig. 2: View of the hearth within the building.|
The items that were being produced on site are unknown, however other sites have provided clues into the types of objects made by medieval blacksmiths. Items such as; weapons, repairs made to armour, iron workings but also more delicate items such as jewellery (Siteseen, 2014).
|Fig. 3: Second phase of the hearth|
The discovery of the medieval and post-medieval workshops on the site is not the first evidence of metal working at Berkeley. The team have identified evidence of Saxon lead working and Roman iron and copper workings possibly suggesting the site was an important metal working site through the ages, although at present we now very little about this. Hopefully next year more detail about metal working at Berkeley during the Roman period will be revealed as the feature producing the iron slag has only just begun being excavated.
|Fig. 4: first phase of the hearth.|
Ward, G. (2008) The grove encyclopedia of materials & techniques in art: One-Volume format, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Victoria and Albert Museum and webmaster, D. M. (2012) 'Brass - Victoria and Albert Museum', available at http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/b/brass/, accessed 8 June 2016.
Siteseen (2014) 'Medieval blacksmith', available at http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-life/medieval-blacksmith.htm, accessed 7 June 2016.
- Bethany Holland.