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Earliest use of steel in the UK identified

Posted on 24 Feb 2014 and read 3911 times
Earliest use of steel in the UK identified Researchers at the University of Bradford say that they have identified the earliest use of steel in the UK. It is now believed that artifacts recovered (in the 1970s) from Broxmouth Iron Age hill fort in East Lothian were manufactured in the years 490-375BC from high-carbon steel. The re-appraisal of the steel objects follows six years of investigation by experts at the university — financed by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Historic Scotland and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Gerry McDonnell — an expert in archaeological metals who was part of the investigating team — says that the high-carbon steel remains, which had been heated and quenched in water, “indicate the beginnings of steel manufacturing in Scotland”. He added: “The process of manufacturing steel requires extensive knowledge, skill and craftsmanship. Such an early example of its production tells us so much about the people who once occupied this hill fort. It points to an advanced, organised community where complex skills were refined and passed on.

“Technical skills at this level would only be achievable by specialist metal-workers, who devoted their lives to perfecting and developing their craft — some might say the first example of a Scottish ‘knowledge economy’. Such specialisation could only have happened with the practical support of the wider community at Broxmouth and beyond; it is a poignant start to the story of iron and steel manufacture in Scotland.”

The Broxmouth site was in use until the time of Roman occupation. After near-total excavation, the site is now occupied by a cement works.