The author’s 1980s excavation and research at Derwentcote are reviewed in the light of new information, and new ideas in archaeology more generally. The development of steelmaking in north-east England is seen as centered on the grafting of German and perhaps Swedish expertise on to the pre-existing English technology of cementation by William Bertram. The successful marketing of this product as ‘German’ steel involved an element of mystique and even deception as well as genuine innovation, and Derwentcote furnace can be seen as a projection of both sides of Bertram’s character; its date may be slightly earlier than previously thought. A model of ‘technological packages’ for the development of steelmaking, with similarities to the ‘punctuated equilibria’ model of biological evolution, is briefly outlined.
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