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Iron Making in the Olden Times as instanced in the Ancient Mines, Forges, and Furnaces of The Forest of Dean   By: (1825-1867)

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IRON MAKING IN THE OLDEN TIMES: AS INSTANCED IN THE ANCIENT MINES, FORGES, AND FURNACES OF THE FOREST OF DEAN,

HISTORICALLY RELATED, ON THE BASIS OF CONTEMPORARY RECORDS AND EXACT LOCAL INVESTIGATION:

BY REV. H. G. NICHOLLS, M.A.,

AUTHOR OF "AN HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE ACCOUNT OF THE FOREST OF DEAN," AND "THE PERSONALITIES OF THE FOREST OF DEAN."

1866

DEDICATORY PREFACE.

The remarkable revival and development that has recently taken place in the Iron Works of the Forest of Dean, and the consequent improvement which has accrued to the district, proves conclusively that its condition and prospects are largely dependent upon such manufacture. Impressed with this fact, it has occurred to the Author that a more particular account of them than has been given in his former work on the Forest might prove interesting to the numerous individuals with whom they are connected.

For several years past this subject has been upon his mind, during which time he has fully availed himself of the contents of the Forestal Archives belonging to the Middle Ages, and appropriated all the information, as he believes, which the neighbourhood itself affords.

He respectfully submits the produce to the perusal of those gentlemen and friends who may favour these pages with their attention.

In coming before them for the third time, he cannot retire from so interesting a neighbourhood without requesting them to consider this as his final mark of appreciation and gratitude for the invariable kindness they have so long shown him.

H. G. N.

April , 1866.

THE OLD "BLACK COUNTRY" OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE; OR, AN HISTORICAL RELATION OF THE MINING AND MAKING OF IRON IN THE FOREST OF DEAN, FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES.

If there be one circumstance more than another that has conferred celebrity on the Forest of Dean, it is the remote origin , perpetuation , and invariably high repute of its iron works . Uniting these characteristics in one, it probably surpasses every other spot in Great Britain.

In the author's former "historical account" of this neighbourhood, he gave all the information he had then collected relative to the mining and making of iron therein. Since that time, he has greatly extended his investigations, especially {1} amongst the records of the Court of Exchequer. The result is, that he believes he is now enabled to present to the public the most complete description that has yet appeared of the manufacture of iron during the Middle Ages, detailing, in the first place, all the particulars he has gathered of the operations of the primitive miner, or iron worker, and proceeding, in chronological order, to the present time.

In the year 1780, wrote Mr. Wyrrall, in his valuable MS. on the ancient iron works of the Forest:

"There are, deep in the earth, vast caverns scooped out by men's hands, and large as the aisles of churches; and on its surface are extensive labyrinths worked among the rocks, and now long since overgrown with woods, which whosoever traces them must see with astonishment, and incline to think them to have been the work of armies rather than of private labourers. They certainly were the toil of many centuries, and this perhaps before they thought of searching in the bowels of the earth for their ore whither, however, they at length naturally pursued the veins, as they found them to be exhausted near the surface."

Such were the remains, as they existed in his day, of the original iron mines of this locality; and, except where modern operations have obliterated them, such they continue to the present time.

The fact of their presenting no trace of engineering skill, or of the use of any kind of machinery, is conclusive of their remote antiquity... Continue reading book >>




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