Step back into the Iron Age life
A RED-HOT chunk of Iron Age life is being recreated in Devon thanks to a young Exeter archaeologist.
Marc Cox, 24, who is about to embark on a PhD in experimental archaeology at Exeter University, is also on the look out for old slag.
Marc has always been fascinated with the area's Iron Age heritage and now he is leading the team behind the Living Iron Age event, being held in Whitestaunton.
The Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership have given Marc and his colleagues at Escot Education a grant which will allow them to recreate Iron Age life.
Families will be able to unlock the secrets of the ancient iron industry and find out how local tribes people turned iron ore into metal. They will also be able to take part in fun Iron Age activities such as dressing up, cooking and making pots.
Before the event begins, students from Exeter University, local history enthusiasts and academics will be involved in extracting iron ore from the ground, making charcoal from local trees and gathering local clay to make a furnace.
It will take several days of preparation to produce an iron 'bloom' from the furnace during the event.
Marc said: "In the Blackdown Hills you have all the natural resources you need to produce iron close together, which is why the industry grew up here and survived for centuries. By recreating the processes on site with authentic materials, we'll be able to get a real feel for the challenges faced by our Iron Age ancestors, which is very exciting."
He also wants anyone who thinks they may have slag – the waste product of the iron industry – on their land to bring a piece along for him to look at on the day.
"Slag looks like chunks of glassy, black rock. There's nothing else in the Blackdowns quite like it," he said. "I've seen really well preserved iron workings in local back gardens and fields, and I'm sure that there are a lot more to be discovered."
Marc, who has also taken part in several expeditions to study massive metal working sites in India and Georgia, said those expeditions showed him how important the work in the Blackdown Hills is. "Those trips really opened my eyes internationally, and showed me how few ancient metal working landscapes have been properly studied around the world," he said. "I realised how important it was to carry on the work in the Blackdowns, and I hope that this event will excite people and generate a whole new phase of research here."
Living Iron Age takes place on Saturday, September 29, 12noon to 5pm, at Newhaven Farm, Cinder Hill, Whitestaunton.