For my birthday this year my Dad and I went on an adventure together, travelling back in time to find out in a hands on fashion, how the earliest tools were produced in Prehistoric Britain. The workshop was lead by experimental archaeologist and PhD student James Dilley. The course was held at Berrycroft Hub an converted dairy on Berrycroft Farm in the village of Ashbury and hosted by the warm, welcoming and truly amazing Sally-Ann Spence.
After our arrival, cake, coffee and introductions James game a demonstration of making the mould with casting sand before letting us loose to make our own moulds.
Lighting the forge
James demonstrating how to work the bellows
A clay crucible containing thin copper
pieces surrounded by charcoal
Tin, which melts at a lower temperature
is added at a later stage to make the bronze.
As this style of antennae knife had complex curls
the mould was opened and warmed through on
the edge of the forge to ensure an even casting.
Gathered in the almost snow, watching, listening and learning.
Pouring the molten metal into the mould
possibly one of the scariest yet most
exciting things I've ever done!
After cooling the cast is removed from the mould
and plunged into cold water
Sawing off the excess
Still much fettling and polishing to do at home
but what a fantastic result in just a few hours!
Before leaving we gathered inside for a slideshow and talk about the life and times of Bronze Age people in Europe and the current understanding of Bronze Age technology. Dad has always been fascinated by metal, working with copper pipe and complex pipework all his working life. Our family history is studded with wheelwrights, blacksmiths, carpenters, clockmakers, carters (from Chieveley / Wantage) and farmers and our day out together gave Dad and I the opportunity to share memories and to learn something new about something old. We had and excellent time, we hope to be back in the future! More photos here
Clock by distant relative - Isaac Prince - Chieveley
There are a range of courses covering field sciences and practical crafts, the setting is lovely and you will be made to feel very welcome. To see what is coming soon follow the link.