Guidelines for Best Practice

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This guidance document provides an introduction to the ways that the archaeological evidence for metalworking is studied. Archaeometallurgical evidence can include whole landscapes, buildings, features, artefacts and waste materials (eg slag and crucibles). Archaeometallurgy includes fieldwork investigations (survey and excavation) and the subsequent study of these data as well as any artefacts and residues recovered. Scientific approaches provide insights into the techniques used to produce different metals and how these were fabricated into artefacts.

The previous edition of this document was compiled in 2001 by Justine Bayley, David Dungworth and Sarah Paynter with the assistance of the Historical Metallurgy Society's Archaeology Committee, with contributions by Peter Crew, Vanessa Fell, Brian Gilmour, Gerry McDonnell, Cath Mortimer, Peter Northover, David Starley and Tim Young. This edition was revised in 2015 by David Dungworth.

This guidance is published in association with Historic Scotland, CADW, the Environment and Heritage Service and the Historical Metallurgy Society.

It is one is of four Historic England publications on guidance concerning materials science and industrial processes, the other three being:


1. What to expect
2. Standards and good practice for archaeometallurgy
3. Archaeometallurgical processes and finds: iron and its alloys
4. Archaeometallurgical processes and finds: copper and its alloys
5. Archaeometallurgical processes and finds: lead
6. Archaeometallurgical processes and finds: other metals
7. Non-metallurgical residues and materials
8. Scientific techniques applied to metalworking
9. Where to get advice
10. Glossary
11. Bibliography

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 88
  • Product Code: HEAG003


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