Time Team (1994) s18e05 Episode Script

The Furnace in the Forest

Lovely day for a peaceful, quiet walk in these tranquil woods deep in the heart of County Durham.
But, believe it or not, this forest hides an industrial complex that was behind the birth of a revolution in this country.
Although today, this is pretty much all that's left of Derwentcote, a site making iron and steel that found its way right across the British Empire.
We do know that there was an exciting hotchpotch of processes going on all over this one site.
A mini industrial revolution.
And we've got just three days to unravel it.
That is, if we can get at the archaeology.
Good thing I brought this! voor bierdopje.
com Before we can think about any trenches, even I'm getting involved with the heavy duty pruning needed here at Derwentcote.
14 kilometres outside Newcastle, deep in the Derwent Valley.
We know they made iron and steel here from the 18th century.
But Derwentcote is barely on the radar when it comes to industrial Britain.
0nly this steel furnace has been dug and restored by English Heritage.
So it's the rest of the site we're here to investigate.
Hidden under all this camouflage is a complex that was a tour de force in an emerging British steel industry.
Francis, everyone's been putting in loads of work and we haven't even started yet.
Is it going to be worth it? It is, Tony.
I mean, okay, it looks like idyllic woodland but actually, under our feet you've got some of the earliest iron-producing and steel-producing sites in the country.
The Industrial Revolution is all happening here.
It's incredibly exciting.
Mark, if this place is so important, why is it in such a state? By the nature of the terrain, Tony, you can see why - it's a very difficult site to keep on top of.
We've got the Time Team in to work on it and find out and expand our knowledge.
But if this is iron and steel making, where's all the big chimneys and all the great rusty hulks of the machinery? All we've got is two-foot-high walls.
Yes, but, Tony, we're dealing with iron and steel making in the early 18th and 19th centuries.
And that's a much smaller scale process than the big iron and steel works of the 20th century.
0K, that's the history but what do we know about the archaeology? 0K, that's the history but what do we know about the archaeology? It's incredibly complicated.
Now, you can see here the wall of a building.
That wall there.
And we're going to put our trench across, over here, to the road, like that.
like that.
So that's there? Yup, from the far side of that wall, through the wall, through this hole, through here and then straight out in that direction, Tony.
Go on, quicker! Go on, quicker! This way? Go on, quicker! This way? Yes, over there.
Go on, quicker! This way? Yes, over there.
You're winding me up.
Up to here? Yeah, further to that flag.
To here? To here? To there.
That'll be the corner of the building, I hope, under the road.
And that's going to be the size of the trench? Yes it is.
Yes it is.
I'll have to get my strimmer out again, won't I? Well, it's a good job we've got a few walls to go on because this place isn't exactly filling geophys with much enthusiasm.
What ideal survey conditions! Without being able to survey an open area, we can't really do anything.
But with the diggers filing in, we're not hanging around for geophys, we're opening our first huge trench, here, over these earthworks.
We want to work out how many buildings there are, what went inside them and how they relate to these peculiar water channels, or leats, which seem to run through them.
Before the machine's even broken the surface, they're finding archaeology everywhere.
There's masses of stuff in here.
Masses and masses of stuff.
And Phil's already thinking bigger.
Francis! Is there any sense in widening out a bit? We're just running along the bloody edge of the wall.
Yes, put an extension in.
Let's see where the wall really is.
You did listen to my words of fine counsel.
Not often that you take notice of anything I say.
All right, Phil, well done.
But getting to the bottom of what's in this trench is crucial.
Because processes developed here supplied the nuts and bolts of everyday life.
It's a relief to get out of the forest because they've got horseflies the size of 50p pieces.
But I've got a good excuse to be here, which is that Marilyn has put together this great big pile of stuff which is essentially the products that would have been made out of the metal that they were creating here.
What's this funny thing? It's a bit like a pub sign.
Yep, that's the right way up but it really was for hanging kettles or cauldrons by the fire.
So, you could swivel it again, sat in a socket, you can swivel it so that your cattle or your cauldron is on the fire and when it's boiling, you take it off.
Every household would have had one of those.
Every household would have had one of those.
So, what on earth's this? Well, you've got to turn it the other way up.
And, like that.
So you've got the cutting edge there.
That fitted into a hook on the top of a wooden block and if you move that up and down This is a blade, isn't it? This is a blade, isn't it? You're usIng It as a fulcrum.
And what you made, Tony, are clogs.
Really? Really? It's the cutting, the wooden patterns for clogs.
In a way, all these things are a snapshot of what life would have been like for ordinary people once they started using much more metals.
once they started using much more metals.
That's absolutely right.
From ploughs to swords, toast racks to rails, metal transformed society.
But this lot consists of iron and steel and there's a difference between the two processes.
Iron is made from iron ore that's melted and hammered but it's malleable and blunts easily.
Steel's simply a much purer form of iron that's been melted and hammered differently and it keeps its sharpness.
A lot of these processes would have taken place at different times and in different places on the site.
and in different places on the site.
They would.
You have to thInk of the sIte as almost lIke a mad scientist's workshop.
Because you've got the iron masters fiddling around with the recipes, really.
It's the birth of the science of metallurgy.
So they're learning new things, understanding what's going on.
And to some extent, they are experimental sites and they're trying anything to get ahead of the neighbour.
And it'll be our job to find out who these people were, what they were doing and when they were doing it.
And why.
All of this means we've got a difficult job ahead because we could be looking for any number of different types of furnaces which made the different types of iron and steel.
0ne furnace we know we've got is the cementation furnace.
It converted iron into steel by cooking it for two weeks.
When that has steel was welded it could be used for swords and tools.
We could have a finery/chafery, where poor-quality iron was melted and hammered, making wrought iron for nails and horseshoes.
Then there's the crucible furnace, that melted steel to make it purer, perfect for springs and razors.
If we can find the different buildings, we can track changing metal technologies and build up a complete picture of the site.
Good job we've got geophys to point us in the right direction.
We often complain about sites but these are the most difficult, to be honest.
You've got so many trees, so many nettles, the undergrowth, all the leaf matter.
The problem is you've got some standing buildings but there's so much rubble inside them that's spread around, we can't do a lot in those.
So what can you do? So what can you do? We're goIng to do a bIt on thIs open path and actually get a transect right through the woods.
See what the variations are like.
Erm, then I'm sort of up for ideas, to be honest.
12 o'clock day one, and John is geophysing the path.
Exciting, isn't it? Luckily, in Phil's trench, they're going great guns without the aid of geophys.
Ah! Look at that.
Now, look, that edge is carrying on.
It's that wall.
It's this one going down here.
It's a big mound in the vegetation.
Yeah.
Yeah.
Go on, keep goIng.
It's going right on out there.
Yeah, we're in the road now.
But you can see it.
Yeah, well, that's the face of it.
So that's a very, very good piece of advancement.
It is.
Brilliant.
And we're on the inside now.
And we're on the inside now.
Inside the building.
And we're on the inside now.
Inside the building.
Yeah.
Bear in mind, it may not have happened if we hadn't actually had the forethought to widen the trench.
I owe that entirely to you, Phil.
I owe that entirely to you, Phil.
Thank you.
So, after just a few hours, Phil's already inside the wall line of a quite sizable single building.
But minutes later it gets better.
0oh, bloody hell.
That's interesting.
That isn't demolition material.
That's burning.
Which is great news.
It looks like Phil's in the heart of a furnace.
Just after lunch, day one.
And just when you think everything's going swimmingly, you discover it actually is.
You're going to need a snorkel to excavate in there! We're certainly not going to be able to carry on as we are.
The fact is, the site is in the bottom of a valley.
You can see over there, we are already below the level of the leat and the water is just pouring in.
What do you think this thing is? We think it's actually, probably, the cellar part, the basement part, of a massive furnace.
So the floor would have been up here.
The cellar, below, would have been underneath our feet.
But it's only guesswork unless we get this water out.
We've got to keep going but we've got to get a pump.
0nce this water's drained, Phil can get back to his burnt bricks and establish what sort of furnace it is.
But to make metal, as well as heat and fire, you need water.
So, to understand how water was used here, Stewart's gone straIght Into a leat.
And he's hitting it with a stick.
Very scientific.
Stewart, this is a pretty pathetic little trickle here.
But in the past, that would've been a serious body of water that would've powered wheels, wouldn't it? This is the whole power supply of this site.
It's part of a water management system.
But this water management system starts actually way up the valley, about 400 metres that way.
And what they're doing, is managing the water from the river, diverting it through a long channel called a headrace.
A four-metre wide channel in a dead straight line to the end of the valley.
Now, that bit of wall there doesn't look like much now but that was holding back a huge pond.
Effectively, it stored water which then you could manage into narrow channels like this to turn a wheel very gently to deliver the power you needed.
But, I mean, to my eyes, Stewart, if that's a dam, which I take your word it is, this inner face looks, for all the world, like the inner wall of a building, doesn't it? It does.
And you're right, I'm sure it is.
But this may all be timber.
We know a lot of these structures have timber, timber framing, effectively.
You might have an open shed here with processing going on on that side.
We need to clean up the dam so we can get a good look at its structure and then open trench two around it.
Because there seems to be a building attached to the back of the dam, which could be industrial.
We'll also dig this man-made channel where we're looking for a water wheel.
According to the documents, an ironworks was established here in 1718.
The first mention of a steel furnace comes in the 1740s, which valued the site at a whopping £4,000.
Do we know much about the people who were involved? The actual steelmaking process is introduced into the Derwent Valley by a colourful chap called William Bertram.
He was German in origin and he went to Sweden and he seems to have learnt steelmaking in Sweden because Sweden's the leading steelmaker at the time.
He seems to be heading back to Germany and he is mysteriously shipwrecked off Newcastle and he ends up in Newcastle making steel.
And then he ends up here.
Why do you say mysteriously shipwrecked? Well, it seems all too easy, doesn't it? You've got an expert steelmaker, which you want in the valley, and somehow or other he ends up here.
So you think he might've been poached? So you think he might've been poached? I thInk he mIght've been poached.
And certaInly the Bertrams are here, father and son, for some time.
But all this needed money and investment and the possibility of people buying his stuff, didn't it? and the possibility of people buying his stuff, didn't it? Yeah.
Well in the 1730s it's a real growth time for Britain.
You've got a series of good corn harvests.
You've got a lot of people who are prepared to invest in industry.
So you've the growth of the early industrial empires in this valley.
Back at trench one, Phil's got his pump and is finding more evidence of his furnace.
Trench two's also under way around the millpond dam.
You can't really see cos it's under all this greenery, but the water table is right here.
If I'd been here a hundred-odd years ago, I'd have been up to my neck in the millpond.
It didn't take long to clear the nettles, Francis, but you really get the picture of a complex water system here now.
You do.
It's been fabulously successful I think, getting rid of all that vegetation.
You really get a feel for it.
Now, look, there's a photograph even.
This is an extraordinary thing.
This is taken some time between 1860 and 70.
And it's looking in that direction.
Now, we don't know what's going on inside this building but look at this family here.
They look pretty good.
He's got a lovely top hat so he's probably quite a senior sort of chap.
But somewhere in here is that view.
That's really tantalising, isn't it? 'I knew there'd be a photo.
'But if we can pinpoint the exact spot this photograph was taken, 'we could work out if those buildings are in our trench 'and what went on inside them.
'I know just the man for the job.
' 'So, as Stewart turns photographic sleuth, 'Phil's engineering a makeshift drainage system at his trench.
'And five feet down, it looks like he's ready 'to name our first industrial process.
' Phil.
You've managed to get quite a lot of the water cleared then.
Yeah, the most incredible thing about this is we are actually on the floor now.
So, just underneath this water is the floor of this crucible furnace.
And you're confident that this is a crucible furnace? And you're confident that this is a crucible furnace? Pretty sure It Is a crucible furnace but it's far more complicated than that.
We don't know whether it's always been a crucible furnace, or even for how long it's been a crucible furnace.
We find that there are so many more phases of building and rebuilding, that it is really, really complicated.
We really don't know what's going on.
We really don't know what's going on.
I think I've got something that might help.
Marilyn has just given me this really fascinating book.
It's by this bloke, Angerstein.
He was around in the 18th century.
And he was an industrial spy.
And he came here, snooping around.
And tomorrow we're going to see whether we can use this spy book, to find out what we've got in our trenches.
That'll be a first! Beginning of day two, deep in the woods of Derwentcote, near Newcastle, where we are investigating an iron and steel works which started in the 18th century.
We have already opened three trenches, and in Phil's crucible furnace trench, there's a slight technical hitch.
Well, that's a fair drop of water in there, ain't it? It is.
But we have the technology.
We have.
Shall I start it up? Nothing yet.
And there's another hitch (LAUGHS) Where's the water, Kerry? Taking a devil of a long And another.
0h! That's known as a blocked hose in the business, and it's not the only problem with this trench.
Yesterday afternoon, everyone was getting excited, because in this trench there was something they were calling a crucible furnace, and I was going, "0h, wow, that's really exciting.
" Except I've really got no idea what a crucible furnace is.
Mike, what is it? All it is is melting iron and steel bars in a pot, a big, tall pot.
I've got one down here.
This is a crucible, which we found yesterday, and it would have been about three times the height.
Steel bars inside, carbon over the top, lid on it.
Gerry, why did they bother to go through such an elaborate process? Because what you're after is a thing called clean steel, steel with no slag in it.
So the great secret of this process is that you take these bars of steel from the cementation furnace, put them into these crucibles, raise them to 1200 degrees C, the steel melts, the slag inside also melts and floats to the surface, so you've now got an ingot of clean steel and some debris.
How do you get to a heat like 1200 degrees centigrade? Well, you do need a furnace, and these crucible steel furnaces, a cellar where the furnace was, which was fed by coal.
And on the floor above, this is where the crucible was filled and lowered into this really hot furnace.
But this is only one process of a whole load that went on here over, what, 50, 100 years? This is the last process to be introduced onto the site, so we think this is about 1850.
This is a fantastic discovery.
Crucible steel was not only really top quality, but could be made in much higher quantities than any steel beforehand.
With his pump now unclogged, Phil can crack on finding out how big this structure actually was.
At the far end of the site, Tracey's started digging the front room of a worker's cottage, hoping to find clues to the workforce who lived here.
I think that's the roof joists coming down, so the whole thing's just kind of slid in.
We're hoping we might have some remnant of the floor left underneath.
Elsewhere, things are a little more frustrating.
At the mill pond where we are investigating the dam structure and looking for other industrial buildings, so far we've got a bird's nest.
It's positively industrial.
What's more, the archaeologists are getting excited about something we'd normally chuck on the spoil heap.
What they're over the moon about is this stuff, and it's not kryptonite, it's dirty old lumps of charred slag.
But here, slag holds the key to what was being made.
The stronger the magnetism, the more metal it contains.
Really attracting to it.
0h, yeah.
Quite a strong pull.
So that, we know, is slag, yes, but with a lot of metal in it.
So what we need to think about is what it's associated with.
We've got an excellent example here, because here we've got the wall of the crucible, what's happened is the crucible has broken and out of it has flowed the steel, which was melted inside.
Again, if we test that, that's really sticking.
Gerry will be analysing the slag to assess the quality of the steel mixed in with it.
If it's not as good as stuff produced in places like Sheffield at the time, it might be the reason work here eventually stopped.
But not everyone's enjoying the quantity of slag.
It's driven John round the bend and up someone's garden wall.
Here, this sums up our problem.
It's full of slag.
If I take a reading, look, several thousand units.
If I do the same on the iron bar Same thing.
Same thing.
Now, this sums up the problem.
This material's everywhere and it's, in effect, masking everything.
I mean, if we look at the results, you remember we're doing a transect along that path? It took us right through the middle of the site.
Now, I was hoping that we'd actually see a variation in the readings, but as you can see, we're just getting noise throughout the length of that path.
What you're showing there is the sheer scale of this thing.
I mean, you couldn't have shown it any other way.
So your time hasn't been wasted.
Well, I must admit, I was ready to go home.
Well, I am ready to go home.
I don't think so, John.
There's a day and a half to go yet.
Meanwhile, Gerry is taking an angle grinder to his crucible slag, and it looks like he's got it out of Phil's trench just in the nick of time.
I thought they were meant to be pumping it out, not letting it back in? Look at that! Full running water! Water Is it slowing down? I don't know.
No.
0h.
Well, we'll have to pump all the time now.
Yeah.
The thing of it is, we won't even be able to see the floor.
I had the floor uncovered until you started playing around! Well, I know you had the floor uncovered until I started clearing up your mess! Not my mess! Well It will run out at some stage.
Yeah, but I'll run out at some stage.
I think I'll leave them to argue this one out.
Francis, I haven't seen you all morning, have things changed here much? We've been running around like headless chickens.
The latest thing is we've found that the dam is largely composed of huge pieces of slag, including blast furnace slag.
This is where Naomi is excavating? That's right, down there.
What does that mean? Well, that means that there must have been a blast furnace in this area when they built the dam.
But it doesn't necessarily mean the blast furnace was here just because we found a pile of slag, does it? Well, yes.
If it's within the body of the dam, that does mean there was a blast furnace nearby.
Is there any evidence, written evidence, of a blast furnace here? Is there any evidence, written evidence, of a blast furnace here? No, there's none.
This is brand new stuff? Absolutely.
This is really exciting, as we might now have the one furnace we weren't expecting to find.
Blast furnaces in north-east England can be as early as the 16th century.
Iron ore and charcoal were put in the top, and air blown into the base, producing cast iron, used for cannons and cauldrons.
But despite Francis's confidence, so far we've only got the slag and no structure.
Luckily, he's equally excited about something else.
Look, on the edge of this leat, suddenly you come across proper pukka masonry, and right in the middle of them there, that iron bar.
Can you see it? I thought it was a tree root.
I know.
It's iron, Tony.
Yeah.
Now, that could be the axle for a wheel.
So, what we've got to prove next is, is there a hole there for the wheel to revolve into? But that is looking good, isn't it? It's looking very good, yes.
Cue more digging to prove whether we've got a wheel pit or not.
0ver in trench one, the safest thing Phil can do right now is stop hitting things with his shovel.
It's a natural disaster, mate! What's gone on?! Well, we just made a wonderful discovery.
We discovered a culvert, and now I know that the culvert's full of water.
Looks like this disused leat running through Phil's trench was culverted over at some point.
Unfortunately, there's now a puncture in it.
That's one of the more recent maps, but if you go back At the incident room, Stewart and Henry are working out how all the leats connect to understand the layout of the site.
Looking at these valleys that come down the side, the water from them's got to go somewhere.
And that boundary round the back is interesting, cos on the old map that looks like another leat, a water system that we haven't even looked at yet round the back.
If they can find the earliest leat, it could lead to the very origins of this site.
Industry put this place on the map, so much so, industrial spies came here.
In the 18th century, they are very worried about what was going on in Britain, all the processes going on, and so spies from Sweden and Germany came over to make sure what we were doing, to protect their own markets.
Tell me about this bloke, what's his name, Angerstein.
Ah, Reinhold Rucker Angerstein, he was German in origin, he set up a steelworks in Sweden and he decided in 1753 to make a tour of Europe, but particularly Britain, in order to find out whether Britain was catching up with Sweden.
Mind you, he gave us some fantastic historical research.
0h, yeah.
His journal is absolutely fantastic.
What they're doing here is to produce out of the iron and steel all sorts of tools and artefacts, and a lot from this valley go to the colonies.
We know that Virginia hoes are made here, which must have been used in the tobacco plantations, and then lots of billhooks for cutting sugar cane.
So we can see this globalisation of trade that's happening, and Angerstein is really our best source for that.
Derwentcote's link with Britain's slave trade is chilling.
As well as 150 tonnes of iron a year, the site made 100 tonnes of steel, some of which went directly to the East India Company.
Back at trench two, the team has been looking for evidence of this production.
And Raksha's discovered the floor of a very dirty room.
0h, lovely.
Urgh.
0oh, that is quite gritty, isn't it? Very gritty.
Almost sort of charcoal-y.
I wonder if we're in a charcoal store.
That's really good, if we found that.
Well, why don't I leave you to clean that up and I'll come back later on? (LAUGHS) 0K! Around this spot they are also finding masses of roof tile.
Looks like we've finally located the first building in this photograph.
This was the charcoal store, which means this bit was probably a forge.
You can see the top of the dam in the picture, and now it's been cleaned up, it looks like it's made of all sorts of recycled material, which has got theories flying thick and fast.
Right, we've got two hours left of today, and we've got the whole of tomorrow, so that's why I've assembled you to tell me what we do about this little miniature Aladdin's cave here.
There is stuff here from blast furnaces, we know that because we've had a look at the slag.
But slag alone doesn't make a blast furnace.
If it is, it's a blast furnace that's been taken apart quite badly and then backfilled with a lot of reused material.
There are other substantial structures this could be, for instance, a finery furnace.
Yep.
We've got one other small piece of evidence which appears to be a very small tuyere, which was the end of the bellows where the air from the bellows went into the furnace.
It's small for a blast furnace, it could be for the refinery.
Well, they seem to be agreeing the dam is made from a dismantled furnace but, typical archaeologists, they can't agree what type.
We need to clear more scrub and see what we've actually got, and if it's a blast furnace then we'll have discovered the earliest industrial process on this site.
But Stewart's on a quest for something earlier again.
Stew, what the heck's going on here? Well, looking at this 1856 map and the possibility of a northern watercourse going round there, different watercourse for the pond, that building there on the end of what might be a redundant leat.
That looks awfully like there might be a mill building there.
I've looked round the back, there's a pit and a ditch.
You can see there's walls coming out.
So I'm going to clear the whole lot up and have a decent look at it.
If Stewart has got a mill, it would predate the iron and steel works and could be why industry was attracted here in the first place.
Because once there was a water system proven to work, people tended to use and expand it.
At the other end, we're still looking for a wheel pit connected with later industrial activity, while Tracey's finished cleaning up the 19th-century cottage.
What a wonderful floor, isn't it? 0h, it's lovely, isn't it? Such good condition as well.
I know, and my first house had quarry tiles like this, and I can just imagine what it would be like living in this place.
I've got the remains of the ash pan, you see? There's one handle for it there, and that's It looks like a latch but you would have a handle in that just to pull the thing out when it was hot.
That's really nice.
But it's collapsed with the weight of the rubble on it.
As they walked out the house they left the ash pan? They left the ash pan.
But it's so nice, we concentrate down there on these big industrial buildings, and for me it's so nice to do the house where they were living, it's the heart of the place.
They were eating here, sleeping here, they were making love here, everything was here.
This cottage is a really evocative snapshot of 19th-century domestic life.
And it seems fantastic flooring was all the rage at Derwentcote.
This trench has been a struggle, but you got there in the end.
We've actually now punched a hole in a culvert and used the water to wash the bricks down here, and it's been a very, very good servant to us.
It is a lovely floor, isn't it? It's a gorgeous brick floor.
You've even got names on some of the bricks here.
Yeah, I know.
This is what I think is just so fantastic.
It really does bring you into touch with people, what, 100, 200 years ago.
I mean, here you've got very clearly, Ramsay, and then Ritson in there.
But it is They are real people that existed.
So are you finished now? If only.
I mean, the crucial thing is, we've always been happy this is the crucible furnace.
When we originally came here we thought that it extended along here and you'd have a load of individual bays where you could actually have placed the crucibles in to make the steel.
But we now think that we may actually have got the crucible furnace the wrong way around.
It goes this way.
So what's this thing here? This could be part of the original partitions that would have separated up the different bays of the furnace.
So what we've got to do now is shift all our spoil and extend the trench that way.
So you are going to shift 20 tons of spoil? 0h, no, I'm not.
But he is.
And after the day Ian's had, I'm sure shifting that will be a walk in the park.
It's been a fantastic day's work, as Phil's crucible furnace gets better and better, but tomorrow it will be all hands to the deck as we continue to look for proof of an industrial process we never imagined we'd find when we first came here.
If this dam is actually a recycled blast furnace, it will be the earliest ironworks on the site and the start of Derwentcote's industrial revolution.
Beginning of day three here at County Durham, where we've travelled back in time and transformed this rural idyll into a seething mass of industrial activity in the 18th and 19th century.
At least we thought we were in the 18th and 19th century but Stewart thinks he can push the date back even further.
What's up your sleeve? We have mention of a coal mill in the 16th century, late 16th century.
0n the first map we've got of the site, a building here which may indicate a mill site, because we've got, basically, an old channel coming down here.
A little channel down the side of the building.
So Iit's speculative, but I would like to see what's going on in this building.
Stewart, I have to say not everybody is yet convinced that there is an earlier mill here, but how are we going to prove if he's right? What I plan to do is start a trench down there, across the centre of the building on the floor, over the wall .
.
onto the road, end about here.
How do you know there's a wall here and a road there? Have you just made that up? Yes, with a little bit of help from Stewart's maps.
So if the map's right, then this is where the wall and road would be? You've got it.
You've got it.
Well, that makes sense, doesn't it? There's no time to lose as the digger moves in to open the trench.
If it is a 16th century mill, it would suggest early and successful water management, making it an ideal location for the next three centuries of industrial activity.
Phil's in the 19th century with his trench, working out the direction and scale of his crucible furnace.
I think that might be the corner, I think it's that wide which would be about that wide as well.
And with each scoop, more clay crucible pot emerges.
Gerry's still only mid-way through processing the crucible slag from Phil's trench to find out how good the steel was.
After grinding, it has to go through three types of acid before it can go under the microscope for the verdict.
So, as Gerry labours away, Marilyn's been looking into Derwentcote's labour force, recorded in the 19th century census.
What did people actually do who lived here? What did people actually do who lived here? Well, fortunately, the census returns tell us the occupations which link them to the site.
So, Mike, we've got a retired steel converter there, a roller, and we've got a steel melter.
What's a steel converter and a steel melter? Steel converters worked up at the cementation furnace just up the valley, but the steel melter, they're working with the crucible furnaces we've just excavated.
So we can now put a name to the guy who was working where Phil's trench is.
We certainly can.
His name is Joseph Brown, he's aged 49 and he's got a wife called Margaret, who is 39.
And over in the crucible trench, Phil's getting closer and closer to steel melter Brown.
Within less than a metre we've been digging here and now we've got really intense heat.
I mean, look at the way these bricks have been really, really red.
Look at the colour of the mortar as well.
I mean, I think those bricks are actually part of a single structure.
I think they are laid bricks.
You've got a very clear edge of all this material coming around here between the burnt material there and this black stuff on there, but the really crucial thing that does really bring it home is not just the colour of these bricks, but, look, they're fused together.
That's fantastic.
To me, that is the hot face of a crucible furnace.
The phenomenal amount of burnt brick means Phil is definitely in the first crucible furnace bay.
They now need to clear even more of the trench to reveal its full size.
Tell you what, Ian, that is looking like a nice section.
Perfection.
Perfection indeed.
And over where we're looking for a water wheel, Raksha also seems to be getting results.
We have a complete jumbled mess of stones that have obviously been re-used and put on top.
And then we've got this really nice uniformed bit at the bottom there.
Really nicely dressed stone.
Really nicely dressed stone.
What fascinates me is that lower one, with the beautiful stonework.
I mean, that's your original wheel pit, that is the evidence we're looking for, that we do have a wheel here.
That's crucially important.
So, finally, we've the location of our water wheel.
But it's nothing to do with the crucible furnace.
Which means it's evidence of other intense industry at Derwentcote.
Phil, where you are, yesterday afternoon, you thought that those might be recesses to put crucibles in.
Do you still think that? 0h, it's absolutely undeniable now, Tony.
We have got two of what we think are probably six recesses.
We've got a brick wall there, brick pier, and then a recess.
And the flue goes right the way through and comes up through there.
Then we've got another brick pier, and another recess with a flue coming up right the way through.
And then we've got another brick pier, and another recess.
So the design is confirmed.
And where I'm standing really is the engine room, so where I've been taking the muck out, they would have been shovelling the fuel in to create the fire.
And what's Joseph Brown doing, who lives in the cottage down there? He's the crucible man, he's standing pretty much where you're standing, and with his cloth cap, just like you, he'd have been loading his crucibles into the furnace to make the steels.
What about this up here? Is this the same period? Is this the same period? No, this is slightly later, Tony.
This is small-scale forging going on here.
And we've got our census return from 1901 that mentions a spade forging, spade making going on on the site.
It's probably to do with that process.
So that's quite nice.
Here we've got industry at it's height, and here we've got the end of the story on this site.
and here we've got the end of the story on this site.
Absolutely.
And as Gerry's finally finished processing the crucible's slag, we can at last find out how skilled Derwentcote's workforce was at making crucible steel.
That's an incredibly vivid image, Gerry.
Well, looking at this image, if you see the darker areas, and then you've got these very white areas running around these edges, and this tells me that this is what's called a hypoeutectoid steel.
It means it's a steel with about 1% carbon.
You couldn't get a better steel, so in my view, they are producing excellent quality, high quality, crucible steel.
Hypoeutectic steels.
Hypoeutectic steels.
HypoeutectoId.
Hypoeutectic steels.
HypoeutectoId.
0h, nearly right.
Crucible steel was used to make springs and pendulums, and the continuing development of ever better metal was the driving force behind the industrialisation of Britain.
But it Derwentcote kept pace technologically, why did it decline? well, you can always rely on a historian and a map for answers.
Up here, we've got the toll road which went in in 1842, you can see on the map here.
I thought this would have given it a new lease of life to get their products out into the world.
Well, you hit the nail on my head there - it's a toll road.
So any goods coming into the site or taken out have to pay tolls.
And that would just add to their costs.
And even 100 years earlier, we know that charcoal is coming in from many miles away, and a horse load of charcoal cost four shillings and sixpence, even then.
But I'm an entrepreneur of that period.
I've got a good water source, I've got a huge mill pond, I've got those buildings there.
Why don't I just increase my production, make more money, pay the toll charges and still continue to make profit? To increase production, you've got to change your power source, so, they're using big steam engines down in Sheffield, big steam engines powering more powerful machinery.
They can produce more.
And you just haven't got the space down here for a big steam engine.
But in the woods, the experts are getting really animated about a process that potentially kick-started all metal production on this site.
Ever since we first got here, our archaeologists have been puzzling over this great hunk of masonry in the middle of our mill pond.
What is it, how old is it? None of them seemed to know, but Francis has just summoned me here in his usual state of Francis high excitement.
What's it? What's it? Well, actually, Tony, thIs Is quIte urgent.
That isn't a heap of rubble, there's structure there, and that structure is potentially very exciting.
What do you reckon it is? Well, Tony, we've got three stones over there which are part of reused arch.
So, what does that mean? So, what does that mean? Well, an arch in a blast furnace, is where they blew the air into it.
What sort of date? What sort of date? About 1650.
How do we prove it, Gerry? How do we prove it, Gerry? We've got three bits of evidence.
The first is this large sheet of furnace lining where the slag inside the furnace has attacked the clay lining of the furnace.
It is far too big for any other structure, I think, other than a blast furnace.
The second piece of evidence is blast furnace slag.
We've been turning up his green blast furnace slag which is typical of charcoal blast furnace in small amounts consistently from here.
And, thirdly, and most importantly, we've got metal.
Now, if I can take a sample of this and prep it very quickly, then I might be able to actually resolve whether it's cast iron.
If it's cast iron, this is definitely a blast furnace.
So, the urgency is you want to get that under the microscope before we finish tonight? Yeah.
before we finish tonight? Yeah.
Come on, then.
It's now a race against time to get this metal processed and say whether it's from a blast furnace or not.
Luckily, the cavalry's arrived to help Gerry out.
Joking aside, this is hard work.
Being realistic, Gerry, we've got an hour.
Are we going to get a result? We'll get as far as we can.
What we'll do, once we've got to this grit, we'll have a look at it under the microscope.
When we get it to the microscope, how do you distinguish between cast and wrought iron? What we're hoping for is it'll be in a sufficiently well prepared state to see a certain micro structure.
Now, what comes out of the charcoal blast furnace is a thing called grey cast iron.
That's got one characteristic feature, little flakes of graphite, and these should show at this level of preparation.
So it's fingers crossed? So it's fingers crossed? It's fingers crossed.
Graphite flakes, graphite flakes, graphite flakes, graphite Francis has gone mad.
.
.
Flakes.
I don't know what graphite flakes are, I just hope they find some.
In Stewart's Trench, he's found something that might just prove his crazy theory about a mill.
Ian was clearing down there, I was giving up on this, to be honest, but just last thing, we have a wall.
So, that's the edge of a wall of a stone building or something? Yes, the other facing edge is underneath this section.
So it's a big old wall, that's a substantial stone wall, and it's different from all the other walls we've looked at as well because it's not that sort of layered stone.
These are boulders they're using here.
To me, this all points that you've got this early mill here.
It's absolutely fantastic.
I think Ian deserves a A pint.
A pint.
A pint, yeah.
I'll let you buy him it, I am a Yorkshireman! Fair enough, Stewart, I take my hat off to you.
This discovery's evidence that Derwentcote evolved from a site using water-power to grind corn, to a site harnessing that water to produce metal.
Question now is whether Gerry and Francis can prove whether we've found that first metal process.
Gerry, I can't wait, mate.
Any graphite flakes? Do you know what graphite flakes look like? Show me.
Those .
.
are, I suspect, graphite flakes.
Yeah, I am reasonably confident.
Great, so if you add that to the size and shape of the furnace lining and to that cast iron slag, then it really looks like we've got a blast furnace, doesn't it? I would say for definite.
Well, that's fantastic.
It's superb.
I am over the moon, I am so over the moon.
Good, well take the message.
What a result.
We've proved that before the pond was here, it was home to a blast furnace.
It pushes iron making on this site back to the 1650s, almost a century earlier than previously thought.
We've only got about half an hour left, Francis.
What do you reckon we've learned from the trenches we've put in? I could tell you in two hours, I mean, we have learnt so much.
We've got how people lived, how they worked.
It's all there and, of course, it all fits together.
That's the great fun of this.
I mean, I know I'm sometimes rude about Stewart, but he helped cement landscapes together.
We came here looking for an iron and steel works, but what we've uncovered is a mini industrial revolution.
Derwentcote might have been overtaken by big cities but metals developed and perfected here changed the very world we live in today.
Not bad for three days' work.
Who's going to be the bloke in the top hat? Who's going to be the bloke in the top hat? That's me.
All that remains is for us to record our own memory of the site.
Who's the lady in the crinoline? Phil.
Phil.
Oh, what?I 0h! Pity you, Tony.
That's his wife.
Time Team's version of the only photograph of what was once here.
All you need is your top hat, Tony, to finish it off.
Smile.
Gotcha, recorded for history.
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