Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Tyneside. North-East England
Hello Ibrahiim. You have found some vital material here, thank-you. I note Jenny Morrison's involvement in some of the material: she is head of Archaeology for the county but has just returned from her holidays so I am waiting to hear from her regarding this iron and steel issue; I have consulted her a few times in the past; she is sitting on a wealth of information that she can enthusiastically supply without effort.
"Finding a lost play" perfectly put! It is precisely why I have embraced the iron industry in general, and the Derwent Valley in particular. My research into Wootz got me started, and I rapidly began to appreciate just how closely connected are the two industries; with steel surviving, of course, and sword-making becoming a cultural craft.
This research led me - inevitably - to Benjamin Huntsman the clock-maker from Doncaster, who moved to Sheffield's environs as he began his crucible manufacturing. I came across an interesting note on Wikipedia that is apropos of little but the probability that it was Klingenthal where it went; although I am only guessing here - I am certain someone will know for sure:
The local (Sheffield) cutlery manufacturers refused to buy Huntsman's cast steel, as it was harder than the German steel they were accustomed to using. For a long time Huntsman exported his whole output to France.
As I have already stated, the arrival of the Germans in Shotley Bridge was never fully justified - considering the vast number of alternatives, but once you put the iron and steel industry into the equation it becomes far more realistic a proposition.
I don't, however, discount the abundance of necessary facilities and materials available, because they were a pre-requisite. I am particularly interested in Richardson's statement about the water being radio-active; I am determined to track down just what was meant by that and where the proposition came from, as Richardson doesn't say. There was also the business of the water being the equal of the Tagus: just what exactly are we talking about here? Mineral content? Isotopes? What else?
There is still much to confirm however: in particular, the presence of Bertram prior to 1685. I know he was shipwrecked in 1690, but I don't take that to mean he was not here before then; I have to look into that.
One thing I am learning, as I progress with researching history, is that I mustn't jump on the odd piece of information – or even a much repeated myth, like Mohll becoming Mole – just because it presents a convincing scenario. For example, three times in 24 hours I have read that in one case Bertram, and in two cases Hayford, had sword-works in Shotley Bridge: is this true? has it been overlooked by everyone so far? Like I said, don't grasp at stuff just because it fits the picture. A supreme example of this would be to consider that sword-making existed in Shotley Bridge prior to 1685, and that the three members of the Hounslow group simply came up to join existing swordmakers.
I am going to tag a couple of items: one is a report for English Heritage when they took over the care of the Derwentcote forge; the second is a clipping regarding the leading lights of the Sheffield steel industry specifically our very own Denis Hayford.