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Books about the Iron Industry and its products:

Publications received by WIRG members

Wealden Iron

Wealden Iron

WIRG publishes an annual Bulletin of research, entitled Wealden Iron. The contents of these volumes are listed on a separate page as follows:

Series I (1969 - 1980): The contents of these volumes are HERE and the volumes can be downloaded as pdf files.

Series II (1981 to date): The contents of these volumes are HERE and some earlier volumes can be downloaded as pdf files. The others may be purchased as follows:

Volumes 11 (1981-1991): £1.00 (+ 50p p&p) each

Volumes 12 to 21 (1992 to 2001): £1.50 (+ 50p p&p) each

Note :- Vols. 5, 10, 15 & 20 have indexes.

An index for Series I and Volumes 1-20 of Series II of the WIRG Bulletin is available for £2.00 (+ 50p p&p). Series 1 is now out of print but a few copies of Volumes 1 - 9 in the Second Series may still be available.

For details please contact the Publications Officer, email:

Prospective authors of articles for future Bulletins should be familiar with the Notes for Authors, available HERE


WIRG Newsletter

WIRG publishes a twice-yearly Newsletter for its members.
Here are some PDFs of recent issues:

NEW: All newsletters prior to 2007 have now been digitised and converted to searchable PDFs.
Click HERE for a list with links.

There are many other small booklets, devoted to specific topics, published by WIRG, mostly written by Group members. For more details click HERE.



Wealden Iron

by Ernest Straker

From the sleeve notes:
Wealden Iron deals with the former Ironworks in the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex. It relates the history of this industry from its early beginnings to its complete and very definite end towards the close of the eighteeth century. The book also includes a survey, made by the author, of the existing remains of the ironworkings.
The story of this industry has, however, far greater significance than a mere study in local archaeology. Its history is very clear cut and self contained, yet it throws considerable light on the industrial and economic life of the country as a whole over a period of more than 300 years.

This book is now OUT OF PRINT.
However, you can download a searchable pdf of the book (116.3Mb) HERE NB: The Contents list on page x has hyperlinks to the beginning of each chapter to facilitate reading a particular section of the book. There are also hyperlinks on page xi to each of the sections of the gazetteer and to the pages of maps.

Wealden Iron-Straker


The Wealden Iron Industry

by Jeremy Hodgkinson

From the sleeve notes:
For two periods of British History - the first part of the Roman occupation and the Tudor and early Stuart periods - the Weald of south-east England was the most productive iron-producing region in the country. Looking across the tranquil Wealden countryside, it is hard to identify anything that hints at its industrial past. Yet 400 years ago, nearly 100 furnaces and forges roared and hammered there, the smoke form charcoal-making curling up from the surrounding woods and the roads bustling with wagons laden with ore and iron sows. Many British naval campaigns, including the Spanish Armada, the wars against the Dutch, and the Seven Years' War, relied on Wealden iron cannon; the pressures of conflict driving forward the development of iron-producing technology. For a time the economy of the whole area was dominated by the production of iron and its raw materials, providing employment, generating prosperity, and shaping the landscape irrevocably. Drawing on a wealth of local evidence, this book explores the archæology and history of an area whose iron industry was of international importance.

Available from The History Press ISBN 9 780752 445731 - Price £15.99

The Weald Iron Industry



The Iron Industry of the Weald

by Henry Cleere and David Crossley

From the sleeve notes:
The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex form the site of the major concentration of ironmaking in Britain during two distinct periods of the island's history; during the Roman occupation of AD43-400 and in the 16th and 17th centuries. This book surveys the evidence derived from excavation, fieldwork, documentary studies and experimental archæology carried out by the Wealden Iron Research Group. It includes chapters on geology and topography of the region, the iron industry during the successive periods of operation, and the technology of the direct and indirect ironmaking processes, together with a detailed gazeteer of sites.

This book is now OUT OF PRINT but all good libraries should have a copy.
However, you can download a searchable pdf of the book (26.5Mb) HERE
NB: The Contents list on page v has hyperlinks to the beginning of each chapter to facilitate reading a particular section of the book.

Iron Industry of the Weald



British Cast-iron Firebacks
of the 16th to mid 18th Centuries. (Out Of Print)

by Jeremy Hodgkinson

From the sleeve notes:
Firebacks began to be made in Britain in the first half of the sixteenth century. From the purely functional purpose of protecting the back of the fireplace and reflecting heat into the room, it was not long before the opportunity was taken to embellish their plain surfaces. Their decoration provides us with a reflection of the social history of the times in which they were made, whether in the heraldry of royalty and the landed class, the religious and political turmoil of the Stuart period, or the beginnings of the Enlightenment and the rediscovery of classical literature.

Illustrated with more than 300 photographs, this first survey of British firebacks sets out to explore their development and variety, and to provide interpretation, where possible, of the decoration to be found on them. The illustrations are to scale so the relative sizes of firebacks can be compared, and there is a comprehensive gazetteer with full details of each fireback shown.

British Cast-iron Firebacks

Further information and a searchable database of firebacks may be found HERE



Hammer and Furnace Ponds by Helen Pearce, Pomegranate Press, Lewes, 2011; 96pp., 15 col. illus., 26 bw illus., index; ISBN 9781907242151

Back cover notes:
They beautify the woodlands of the Kent and Sussex High Weald and adjacent parts of Surrey, but they were created to power what has been described as the country's first industrial revolution.

Helen Pearce's walker-friendly guide to the rich crop of surviving hammer and furnace ponds in the area traces the history of iron exploitation from pre-Roman times, but concentrates on the 16th and 17th centuries when the Weald throbbed to the sound of trip hammers.

The book includes:
  A complete gazetteer of surviving ponds, with map references and access details
  A list of museums with iron industry displays
  A glossary of terms and ideas for further reading

There is an associated website HERE


Other Publications available from WIRG (as at 17/06/2019)
Title, etcPrice by post (UK)At meetings
Excavations of a Late 16th/Early 17th C Gun Casting Furnace at Maynards's Gate, Crowborough, Sussex, 1975-1976, 0. Bedwin£2.00£1.50
A Middle-Saxon Iron Smelting Furnace Site at Millbrook, Ashdown Forest, Sussex, C.F. Tebbutt £2.00£1.20
The Fieldwalker's Guide and an Introduction to the Iron Industries of the Weald, B.K. Herbert£4.00£3.50
Metallurgical Analysis of Ferrous Alloy Produced in a Primitive Furnace. R. C. D. Sampson & B. K. Herbert
A specialist publication containing optical microscopy photographs of iron produced in WIRG's experimental bloomery furnace
The Penhurst to Ashburnham Leat: a first foray + map (2007)£2.25£1.50
The Penhurst to Ashburnham Leat: a second foray + map (2007)£2.25£2.00
The Penhurst to Ashburnham Leat: the flow rate + graphs + maps (2007)£3.25£2.50
Fernhurst Furnace. Chichester District Archaeology No. 2, ed. J. Magilton
Seven different articles relating to the iron industry of the district
Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group
Series 2 Bulletins: - Volumes 1 to 24 (1981 to 2004)£2.00£1.50
Series 2 Bulletins: - Volumes 25 to 35 (2005 to 2015)£2.50£2.00
Note: Vols. 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25 have an index. Vols 21 onwards are separately indexed
NB: All newsletters prior to 2007 have now been digitised and converted to searchable PDFs.
Click HERE for a list with links.

Publications are available from the Publications Officer, email:


© Wealden Iron Research Group 2000-14.