Refining was an intermediate process for conversion of the grey cast iron produced by the smelting of, principally Coal Measures, iron ore into a white cast iron known as finers metal that was suitable for conversion to wrought iron by puddling. It was adopted first in Merthyr Tydfil in 1791, following the failure of Cort’s puddling process to produce good iron directly from coke pig. Refining entailed the remelting of the pig iron under strongly oxidising conditions, followed by rapid chilling of the iron. Archaeometallurgical analysis of samples from excavation of the 1830s–1870s refinery building of the Ynysfach Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil, has permitted the first modern reappraisal of the refining process. The residues possessed a very high phosphorus content which generated an unusual mineralogy, including phosphoran varieties of the minerals olivine and iscorite. Dephosphorisation was a major function of refining.
Birch A 1967, Economic history of the British iron and steel industry 1784-1879 (London).
Boesenberg J S 2006, ‘Wrought iron from the USS Monitor: mineralogy, petrology and metallography’, Archaeometry 48, 613-31.
Boesenberg J S, Ebel D S and Hewins R H 2004, ‘An experimental study of phosphoran olivine and its signiﬁcance in main group pallasites’, Lunar and Planetary Science 35, Abstract no 1366.
Boesenberg J S and Hewins R H 2010, ‘An experimental investigation into the metastable formation of phosphoran olivine and pyroxene’, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74, 1923-41.
Boesenberg J S, Delaney J S and Hewins R H 2012, ‘A petrological and chemical reexamination of Main Group pallasite formation’, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 89, 134-58.
Bonnard A H de 1804-5, ‘Mémoire sur les procédés employés en Angleterre pour le traitement du fer par le moyen de la houille’, Annales des Mines 17(100), 245-96.
Dellow E L (trans) 1973, Svedenstierna’s tour of Great Britain 1802-3, the travel diary of an industrial spy, Eric T Svedenstierna (Newton Abbot).
Evans C (ed) 1990, The letterbook of Richard Crawshay, 1799-1797 (Cardiff: Publications of the South Wales Record Society 6).
GGAT in prep, Excavations at Ynysfach Ironworks, unpublished GGAT Report.
Goodrich C A 1984a, ‘Phosphoran pyroxene and olivine in silicate incIusions in natural iron-carbon alloy, Disko Island, Greenland’, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 48, 1115-26.
Goodrich C A 1984b, ‘Addendum: Phosphoran pyroxene and olivine in silicate incIusions in natural iron-carbon alloy, Disko Island, Greenland’, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 48, 2769-71.
Gross J (ed) 2001, The diary of Charles Wood of Cyfarthfa ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil 1766-1769 (Cardiff).
Hayman R 2003, The Shropshire wrought-iron industry c1600-1900: a study of technological change. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Birmingham.
Hayman R 2004, ‘The Cranage brothers and eighteenth-century forge technology’, Historical Metallurgy 38(2), 113-20.
Hyde C K 1974, ‘Technological change in the British wrought iron industry, 1750–1815: a reinterpretation’, Economic History Review 27, 190–206.
King P 2011, ‘Iron in 1790: production statistics 1787-96 and the arrival of puddling’, Historical Metallurgy 45(2), 102–33.
King P 2015, ‘Experimental ironmaking in the 1720s: Thomas Tomkyns and his contemporaries’, Historical Metallurgy 48 (for 2014), 80-86.
McCormmach R 2014, The personality of Henry Cavendish – a great scientist with extraordinary peculiarities (Switzerland: Archimedes 36).
Mott R A 1983, Henry Cort, the great finer: creator of puddled iron, ed P Singer (London).
Mushet D 1840, Papers on iron and steel (London).
O’Reilly 1805, ‘Sur les procédés employés en Angleterre pour le traitement du fer par le moyen de la houille’, Annales des Arts et Manufactures 23, 113-51 and 225-54.
Percy J 1864, Metallurgy: volume 2, iron and steel (London).
Rogers S B 1858, An elementary treatise on iron metallurgy up to the manufacture of puddled bars (London).
Truran W 1855, The iron manufacture of Great Britain theoretically and practically considered (London).
Truran W 1863, The iron manufacture of Great Britain theoretically and practically considered, 2nd edn (London).
Truran W 1865, The iron manufacture of Great Britain theoretically and practically considered, 3rd edn (London).
Williams R 2015, ‘A question of grey or white: why Abraham Darby I chose to smelt iron with coke’, Historical Metallurgy 47(2), 125-37.
Young T P 2011, ‘Some preliminary observations on hammerscale and its implications for understanding welding’, Historical Metallurgy 45(1), 26-41.
Young T P 2013, Assessment of archaeometallurgical residues from the Merthyr Learning Quarter. Unpublished GeoArch Report 2013-08.
Young T P 2014, Archaeometallurgical residues from Ynysfach Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil. Unpublished GeoArch Report 2013-29.
Young T P and Hart R 2018, ‘The refining process, part 1: a review of its origins and development’, Historical Metallurgy 50(2), 95-108.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.