An Investigation of Hammerscale

Author(s): David Dungworth, Roger Wilkes

Archaeologists regularly recover hammerscale from archaeological deposits. This material is particularly useful as it indicates the hot-working or iron and iron alloys. Hammerscale is commonly found as small flakes which are comparable to the scale produced in modern steel works during the hot working of iron and its alloys. Less common are small spheres but these are usually found with flake hammerscale, and like the flake hammerscale they are magnetic. This project has examined flake and spheroid hammerscale from archaeological contexts and undertaken forging and fire-welding experiments to test the hypothesis that spheres are produced during fire-welding. Several lines of enquiry indicate that the spheres are produced by traditional fire-welding; a phenomenon which was most clearly illustrated by the high-speed digital video of an experimental weld. The SEM-EDS examination of the archaeological and experimental hammerscale suggests that the non-metallic (slag) inclusions in the metal make a significant contribution to the formation of hammerscale.

Report Number:
Research Department Reports
Metal Working-Fe


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