Gerry McDonnell’s Archaeometallurgy Pages

The early years

My first excavation was in about 1959/60 on Levisham Moor, North Yorkshire, an Iron Age enclosure excavated by the Late Raymond Hayes.  My claim to fame was the discovery of a near complete up-standing pot.  

My first encounter with iron slag was in about 1970 when the Late Mike Davis-Shiel came to my local Archaeological Society (the Helmsley and District Archaeological Society) in North Yorkshire to lead a field trip looking for slag heaps around Rievaulx Abbey.  I undertook a school project  which was then published in The Ryedale Historian (McDonnell 1971).

Early Career

Between 1973 and 1975 I excavated with the Stead Circus investigating the Iron Age burials of East Yorkshire and Champagne, France.  Also excavated with Verulamium Museum.  

I went to Bradford University to study the first ever undergraduate course in Archaeological Sciences in 1975, the year it began.  I  spent my 3rd year, the compulsory year out in industry, divided between 6 months working with the West Yorkshire Unit, then under the direction of Phil Mayes, and 6 months with the Geophysics Section of the Ancient Monuments Laboratory, English Heritage then based in  Fortress House Savile Row, London; the Geophysics section was led by Tony Clark and the lab Director was John  Musty.  I graduated in 1979

Archaeometallurgy 1979-1988


In 1979 moved to the Department of metallurgy, Aston University in Birmingham to research archaeological ironworking slags on a contract funded by English Heritage.  There was a supervisory committee which included Leo Biek. And Prof Ronnie Tylecote  The work expanded to include the analysis of iron artefacts, most importantly the Anglo-Scandinavian artefacts recovered from Coppergate York, (Ottaway 19).  I completed my PhD in 1986