This year The Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) resumed its Introduction to Metallurgy course with a day-long class followed by metal casting demonstrations during its annual Open Day. It took place on July 16-17, 2022.
This year the course was organised by Eleanor Blakelock and taught by Giovanna Fregni. Students of the course learned about the significance of experimental archaeology and how it is a part of experiencing craft in the past. Activities included the basics of mixing clay bodies for high temperature work and building a small pit furnace in addition to making crucibles. The day continued with participants making moulds from cuttlefish bone, some of which were harvested from beaches on the south coast of England. Cuttlefish bone is an excellent medium for learning to carve moulds, and the students were soon casting small pieces of jewellery.
On Sunday, despite the unprecedented heat, students demonstrated their skills in casting and invited the public to watch and also make some moulds of their own. Both students of archaeological metals and field archaeologists benefited from seeing the processes of metalwork. Students of metallurgy gained insight into the processes of metalworking in pre-industrial societies, and field archaeologists got a rare glimpse of how metalworking sites could have been formed.
SHARP is an organisation devoted to archaeological excavation and education. The project began in 1996 and features an ongoing excavation of an Anglo-Saxon village located near Sedgeford, in south-east England. The project provides basic archaeological education through its programmes and short courses. More information about SHARP, its mission, and programmes can be found here: https://www.sharp.org.uk/