Institute of Archaeology


Carlotta Gardner

Metalworking Crucibles in Roman Britain


Email: carlotta.gardner.11@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Sciences



Metalworking Crucibles in Roman Britain

This project aims to investigate the technological and social dimensions of Roman period crucibles in Britain. Ceramic crucibles are integral to metallurgical processes. It has previously been demonstrated that a great wealth of information can be gathered through the analysis, both typologically and scientifically, of these materials (e.g. Bayley and Rehren 2007, Freestone and Tite 1986, and Martinón-Torres & Rehren 2009). Most studies of archaeological ceramic refractories focus on their roles within specific metallurgical processes. The materials themselves are rarely studied in any detail.

Past studies by Freestone and Tite (1986), Howard (1980) and more recent studies by König and Serneels (2012), and Sahlén (2013) have shown the great potential that lies in the detailed study of crucibles as objects - as opposed to the more traditional approach of treating them merely as tools or containers of reactions. In the above papers we begin to see the discussion of craft specialisation, skill, technological choice, and economic issues such as production and exchange. It is these themes that will be drawn upon in this research project to explore inter-craft activity between the ceramics and metals industry, and the complexities of the more traditional chaîne opératoire, which is used frequently to describe technological processes in archaeology. Through doing so it is also hoped that the project will address the more general organisation of Roman period metal production in Britain.

This project will use a detailed and multi-disciplinary study of Roman period crucibles in Britain to explore the themes outlined above. Detailed fabric and technical analysis will be carried out on crucibles from selected regions, using petrography, SEM and XRF.  These will be used to determine the technological choices made and how consistently they were applied; the role of specialists in crucible production; and the relationship of these practices to region, status of site and chronology.  It will further allow the extent to which non-ferrous metalworking was dependent on the ceramic industry to be evaluated.




  • BSc (1st class with honours), Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford, 2010
  • Diploma of Archaeological Studies (Distinction), University of Bradford, 2010
  • MSc in the Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials (Distinction), Institute of Archaeology, UCL, 2012