@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • An Archaeological Exploration of the Old Furnace at Coalbrookdale @BlistsHill @FestivalofArch #dayofarch

    July 31st, 2011mardixonCulture

    Don’t let the title fool you, this was another fascinating event coordinated by Shane Kelleher, Archaeologist Management Officer for Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust as part of the UK wide Festival of British Archaelogy (@festivalofArch ) which was one theme this month for @CultureThemes.

    The exploration of the Old Furnace, which is located in Coalbrookdale started with a short presentation which is where I learned:

    • The Old Furnace (as opposed to the new one that Abraham Darby built) was built in 1658.  Interesting, it has the date 1638 on the beam but this is believed to have been an error done in the renovations of the 1950s.  From 1638 to 1708, the Old Furnace was leased to various people.
    • Abraham Darby leased the furnace in 1708 where he first smelted coke.
    • This is probably THE most important industrial monument in the world.


    Please Keep Reading:

    Shane also showed us really captivating photos on how this important structure was actually covered and hidden until the 1950’s when it was realized that for the 250th anniversary of the industrial revolution it would great to excavate the area.  But unlike today’s archaeological digs, they used industrial diggers!  But luckily they were very sympathetic to the structure and did manage to clean the area up pretty well.

    In 1981/82, it was decided the structure’s fabric was deteriorating.  This is when the very grand Louve-like structure was placed over the Old Furnace.  During this construction, they discovered the northern Tuyere (blowing holes).

    Before heading out to see the site itself, we were also privileged enough to see a film that was taken in 1959 of Coalbrookdale.

    At the Old Furnace itself, Shane was able to show us the different areas and structures that he spoke about while we were inside – with annotated items such as the pot that workers would warm their hands with during the winter months.


    Where a wheel used to pump water from the nearby aqua-duct. The water was used to activate the bellows.

    Suddenly, everything was making sense – both on how the Old Furnace structure worked but also on how it managed to become such an important piece of the Industrial Revolution’s history, and it’s reason for being a World Heritage Site.

    Before leaving, I tried to convince Shane to have more archaeological events as clearly with another large crowd today it’s something people are really interested in.  Hope I succeed in convincing him – I really don’t want to have to wait a whole year until the next Festival of Archaeology.



Leave a reply