Historical Industrial Waste
Pig-for-thought: Foundry pig and waste from Dalmellington Ironworks, Ayrshire
(with the kind permission of the Dalmellington and District Conservation Trust).
Dalmellington Ironworks, South Ayrshire, operated from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Although the presently surviving slag heaps runs to about half a mile long (see image below) little has been established regarding the quality of the pig iron produced within the blast furnaces let alone the metallurgical waste from the site. The analyses of various samples of scrap recovered from the heap suggest different grades of foundry pig but also potentially Bessemer pig. While the former could have been produced from the use of local company owed mines for the latter the Cumbria heamatite rich ore must have been imported.
The questions addressed in SASAA's report related to:
a) the origins of the raw materials - the company owned local mines but also imported haematite-rich ore from Cumbria.
b) the types of pig produced (primarily different grades of foundry pig, Sextonís Nos 1-4) but also potentially Bessemer pig, and
c) the markets for which the products were aimed.
Dalmellington slag heap, SASAA images©
The technical characterisation of archaeological and historical industrial waste can fill in gaps that documentary evidence (when available) omitted to provide. Dalmellington Ironworks offers a unique opportunity to study the industry in the context of the raw materials and energy resources but also the social aspects of the miners /workers communities as exemplified by the domestic standing building remains and scraps of metal and waste the workers left behind.
For more information, see:
SASAA 49 Internal Report, August 2000: Pig-for-thought: The technical characterisation of samples of industrial waste from the Dalmellington Ironworks, South Ayrshire, pp50.