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Keynote Lecture - April 1, 2006

Dr. Ronald A. Ross of Wilfrid Laurier University presented Iron Monks and Steel Lords: Pursuing the Medieval Origins of the Industrial Revolution in Rural Shropshire


Dr. Ross will discuss his excavations and associated research at the Upper Forge site. These are challenging the conventional view that the industrial revolution starts in the 18th or 19th Century. The excavation, run by the Coalbrookdale Historical Archaeology Research and Training Programme (CHART) of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, has uncovered the two oldest archaeologically known cementation steel furnaces in the world. Dr. Ross argues that the real origins of industry in the valley lie with the Medieval Priory of Wenlock. The site has also produced considerable evidence for industrial and residential uses from the 17th C onwards, including malting of barley, and copper smelting.

Dr. Ronald A. Ross is a CAS Professor of Archaeology at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Canada. He teaches in the departments of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Medieval Studies, and Anthropology. His research interests include the medieval origins of the British iron and steel industries, medieval demography and population, and archaeological method and theory. He is also the owner and director of Archaeological Research, Consultancy and Heritage Management International (ARCH-M).