Industrial Archaeology Field School at Ironbridge
field school in industrial archaeology and historical archaeology

Project Introduction & Call for Applications

Next field season: Wednesday 16th July 2003 to Tuesday 29th July 2003

The Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol, in conjunction with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, delighted to announce the inaugural season of an exciting new field school in the principles and practice of historical archaeology and industrial archaeology. The project is based in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site and forms part of Ironbridge Archaeology's ongoing Coalbrookdale Historical Archaeology Research and Training programme (CHART). The field school will explore key sites in Coalbrookdale associated with early industrialisation, specifically exploring evidence of ironworking in the 17th century - the period before the developments associated with Abraham Darby.

Applications to participate in the field school are invited from students and members of the public. To see details of fees and academic credit, click here.

industrial archaeology


The CHART programme - previous research and future aims
The CHART programme was inaugurated in 2001 by Ironbridge Archaeology, with the twin aims of investigating hitherto unexplored aspects of the development of the Coalbrookdale landscape, and providing an intensive field training experience in the techniques of historical archaeology. Fieldwork was undertaken in 2001 and 2002 in conjunction with the University of Birmingham on a range of sites in Coalbrookdale, including the seventeenth century Tobacco House and the Upper Forge complex which has its origins in the sixteenth century. The programme included excavation, environmental analysis, landscape survey and standing building recording. The 2003 season will continue to focus on the early history of the Upper Forge, as well as the neighbouring seventeenth century Middle Forge complex, water power features and the eighteenth century landscape.

As well as thorough training in the principles and practice of historical and industrial archaeology, participants will also benefit from a series of lectures and tours providing information about the development of the industrial landscape within the World Heritage Site.

Self-catering accommodation in shared rooms is provided at the Coalport Youth Hostel, converted from factory buildings formerly part of the Coalport porcelain works. All participants will be expected to assist with cooking and washing up. The Youth Hostel has well-equipped kitchen facilities and hot showers.

Fees and Academic Credit
The fees for the field school are 500 for 14 days, including all tuition, accommodation and 3 meals per day.

The field school is an accredited course offered by University of Bristol, and offers twenty points upon completion of the two-week programme. These are usually treated as equivalent to one undergraduate credit by North American universities, but students should confirm their acceptibility with their own school. Apply for this field school

Archaeological and Historical Background
The Upper Forge at Coalbrookdale was probably established in the sixteenth century, and was certainly in operation by the mid-seventeenth century. It formed an important part of the ironworking complex at Coalbrookdale which included the famous Old Furnace, later used by Abraham Darby to develop coke smelting of iron. The Upper Forge has long been suggested as the possible location of an early steel furnace but its location has not yet been revealed. The furnace was in operation between c.1620 and c.1680, and was one of the first of its type in England. The aims of the 2003 season will be to try and understand the operation of this site in the seventeenth century. This will involve
  • continuing excavation of the later malthouse site, thought to be on the site of the earlier steel furnace
  • exploration and survey of the water supply and water power system
  • survey and analysis of the surviving seventeenth century Middle Forge buildings

  • The CHART programme is under the overall direction of Paul Belford (Senior Archaeologist, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust). The 2003 field school will be directed by Paul Belford, Dan Hicks and Mark Horton.


    industrial archaeology

    Introductory Reading List
    Alfrey, J. and C. Clark 1993, The Landscape of Industry : Patterns of Change in the Ironbridge Gorge, London : Routledge
    Belford, P., 2003, Advanced Art, Imperfect Science : the archaeology of cementation and crucible steelmaking, Ironbridge Archaeology Monograph No.1, Oxford : BAR Archaeopress
    Palmer, M. and P. Neaverson, 1998. Industrial Archaeology: Principles and Practice. London: Routledge
    Trinder, B., 1981, The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire, Chichester : Phillimore
    Raistrick, A., 1953, Dynasty of Ironfounders, 1989 reprint by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and the Sessions Book Trust

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    Historical archaeology MA at Bristol

    To apply, print, complete and fax or post the Application Form,
    For further details, email

    Informal enquiries should be directed to Paul Belford (Ironbridge Archaeology) - tel:01952 432237, or email

    Bristol University Archaeology Department

    2003 Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol, UK
    in partnership with Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust

    Ironbridge Gorge
    Museums Trust