Paul Craddock Janet Lang

Abstract

The scientifi c or technical authentication of iron artefacts has not attracted a great deal of attention although there are some notable forgeries. Scientifi c examination of Charles Dawson’s little iron statuette and another little fi gure found more recently at the Roman iron smelting site at Beauport Park, Sussex, has shown both to be of coal- or coke-smelted grey cast iron. The sulphur and manganese contents of the Dawson statuette strongly suggest that it is Victorian. It had also been treated with potassium dichromate, as were all the fi nds from Piltdown, thereby linking the actual forgery process fi rmly with Dawson. The other figure is more complex but still relatively recent. Iron that does not contain evidence of smelting with fossil fuels can be very diffi cult to date or authenticate, and some of the problems with the direct dating of iron by radiocarbon dating, or by metallographic structure are discussed here. Other examples of grey cast iron have been reported from several Romano-British sites. Consideration of their composition and archaeological context suggests that most are probably intrusive, but some could be evidence of experiments to smelt iron using coal in the Roman period.

##plugins.themes.bootstrap3.article.details##

Keywords
References
Allan J and Gilmour B 2000, Persian Steel: The Tanavoli Collection (Oxford).
Cleere H and Crossley D 1985, The Iron Industry of the Weald (Leicester).
Coghlan H H 1956, Notes on Prehistoric and Early Iron in the Old World (Oxford).
Cook A C, Wadsworth J and Southon J R 2001, ‘AMS radiocarbon dating of ancient iron artifacts: A new carbon extraction method in use at LLNL’, in I Carmi and E Boaretto (eds), Proceedings of the 17th International Radiocarbon Conference, Radiocarbon 43(2A), 221–27.
Cook A C, Wadsworth J, Southon J R and van der Merwe N J 2003, ‘AMS radiocarbon dating of rusty iron’, Journal of Archaeological Science 30(1), 95–101.
Craddock P T 2003, ‘Cast iron, fined iron, crucible steel: liquid iron in the ancient world’, in P T Craddock and J Lang (eds), Mining and Metal Production Through the Ages (London), 231–57.
Craddock P T and Lang J 2004, ‘Crucible steel – bright steel’, Historical Metallurgy 38(1), 35–47.
Craddock P T and Wayman M L 2000, ‘The development of ferrous metallurgical technology’, in M L Wayman (ed), The Ferrous Metallurgy of Early Clocks and Watches: Studies in Post Medieval Steel (London), 13–27, and see also 74–5.
Craddock P T, Wayman M L and Jull T 2002, ‘The radiocarbon dating and authentication of iron artefacts’, Radiocarbon 44(3), 717–32.
Craddock P T, Cowell M R and Stead I 2003a, ‘Europe’s earliest brasses?’ HMS News No54, 3–4.
Craddock P T, Wayman M L, Wang H and Michaelson C 2003b, ‘Chinese cast iron through twenty five hundred years’, in P Jett (ed), Scientific Research in the Field of Asian Art: Proceedings of the First Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art (London), 36–46.
Cresswell R G 1991, ‘The radiocarbon dating of iron artefacts using accelerator mass spectrometry’, Historical Metallurgy 25(2), 78–85.
Cresswell R G 1992, ‘Radiocarbon dating of iron artifacts’, in A Long and R S Kra (eds), Proceedings of the 14th International Radiocarbon Conference, Radiocarbon 34(3), 898–905.
Crew P 2004, ‘Cast Iron from a Bloomery Furnace’, HMS News No57, 1–2.
Cronyn J M 1990, Elements of Archaeological Conservation (London).
Dawson C 1903, ‘Sussex ironwork and pottery’, Sussex Archaeological Collections 46, 1–62.
Downes R L 1956, Charles Dawson on trial (A study in archaeology), unpublished manuscript in the collections of the Sussex Archaeology Society at its library at the Barbican House Museum in Lewes.
Eylon D 2002, ‘On the radiocarbon dating of charcoal-reduced iron and steel’ in Gyu-Ho Kim, Kyung-Woo Yi and Hyung-Tai Kang (eds),BUMA-V Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on The Beginnings of the Use of Metals and Alloys (Seoul),161–8.
Fieldhouse W J, May T and Wellstood F C 1931, A Romano-British Industrial Settlement near Tiddington Stratford-upon-Avon (Birmingham).
Gardiner B G 2003, ‘The Piltdown forgery: a re-statement of the case against Hinton’ Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society 139(3), 15–35.
Hinchcliffe J, Williams J H and Williams F 1992, Roman Warrington: Excavations at Wilderspool 1966-9 and 1976 (Lancaster: Brigantia Monograph 2).
Jones M (ed) 1990, Fake? The Art of Deception (London).
May T 1904, Warrington’s Roman Remains (Warrington).
Morrogh H 1941, ‘The metallography of inclusions of cast irons and pig irons’, Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute 143, 207–86.
North A R E 1992, ‘Instruments of torture’, in M Jones (ed), Why Fakes Matter (London), 93–9.
Papachristou O 1996, ‘Armour of a warrior from the Amir Temur citadel’, Obshchestvennye nauki y Uzbekistane 7–10, 148–53 [in Russian].
Peacock D P S 1973, ‘Forged brick-stamps from Pevensey’, Antiquity 47 (No186), 138–40.
Read C H 1893, ‘Comments on Charles Dawson’s iron statuette’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries 14, 359–61.
Russell M 1999, ‘Of flint mines and fossil men: The Lavant Cave deception’, Oxford Journal of Archaeology 19, 497–500.
Russell M 2003, Piltdown Man (Stroud).
Salzman L F 1908, ‘Excavations at Pevensey, 1906–7’, Sussex Archaeological Collections 51, 99–114.
Schubert H R 1957, History of the British Iron and Steel Industry (London).
Straker E 1931, Wealden Iron (London).
Tylecote R F 1976, A History of Metallurgy (London)
Tylecote R F 1986, The Prehistory of Metals in the British Isles 2nd edn (London).
Tylecote R F 1987, The Early History of Metallurgy in Europe (London).
Tylecote R F and Clough R 1983, ‘Recent bog iron ore analyses and the smelting of pyrite nodules’, Offa 40, 115–8.
van der Merwe N J 1969, The Carbon-14 Dating of Iron (Chicago).
Walsh J 1996, Unravelling Piltdown (New York).
Watts K N 1992, ‘Samuel Pratt and armour faking’, in M Jones (ed), Why Fakes Matter (London), 100–7.
Wayman M L, Lang J and Michaelson C 2004, ‘The metallurgy of Chinese cast-iron statuary’, Historical Metallurgy 38(1), 10–23.
Webster G 1974, ‘The West Midlands in the Roman Period’, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society 86, 49–58.
Webster G 1955, ‘A note on the use of coal in Roman Britain’, Antiquaries Journal 35(3–4), 199–217.
Weiner J S 2003, The Piltdown Forgery, reissue of the 1955 original (London).
How to Cite
Charles Dawson’s cast-iron statuette: the authentication of iron antiquities and possible coal-smelting of iron in Roman Britain. (2021). Historical Metallurgy, 39(1), 32-44. https://hmsjournal.org/index.php/home/article/view/243
Section
Articles