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Dr Tim Young 


Reconstruction of an early medieval Christian handbell

The handbell was one of the iconic attributes of the priesthood in the Early Christian church of Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the Early Medieval period. The earliest handbells were made of wrought iron, forged and riveted into shape, with a bronze coating applied by brazing to produce a ringing sound. Related techniques were used until modern time to produce smaller animal bells. The project aims to reconstruct the techniques used in the fabrication of such handbells. This work has arisen partly from the desire of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (NMW) to produce a working replica of St Ceneu's Bell for their archaeology gallery and partly from research by GeoArch into metallurgical remains from a monastic site at Clonfad, Co. Westmeath, Ireland (excavated by Valerie J Keeley Ltd, for the National Roads Authority, as part of the N52 realignment), which include vitrified clay fragments interpreted as debris from the brazing of handbells. The work is being jointly funded by NMW and the NRA.

Experimental work to understand the brazing process © GeoArch

Experimental work to understand the brazing process © GeoArch

Funding: National Museum Wales, National Roads Authority (Ireland)

See project website www.geoarch.co.uk/experimental/bell.html

Experimental bloomery iron smelting

A programme of experimental work has been undertaken, originally based in St Fagans, near Cardiff (a branch of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales), the experiments were run on an occasional basis from 1998 to 2004, with ore recent work being undertaken in collaboration with other orgnaisations and individuals outside Cardiff. The programme was designed to investigate the smelting, in a large slag-tapping bloomery furnace, of ore of the kinds exploited in the South Wales region in early times. The furnace was a reconstruction of what is believed to be the typical type of furnace used in the area throughout the first millennium AD.

The original bloomery furnace reconstruction at St Fagans © GeoArch

The original bloomery furnace reconstruction at St Fagans © GeoArch

The project was supported by Amgueddfa Cymru  -National Museum Wales.

Mapping Isca

Extensive geophysical surveys have been undertaken to improve understanding of the fortress of the Second Augustan Legion at Caerelon. 

Results of magnetometer surveys outside the fortress. © GeoArch

Results of magnetometer surveys outside the fortress. © GeoArch

See the project web pages at Isca the Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon