Gerry McDonnell



Iron   Alloys

Archaeometallurgical analysis of archaeological and historic iron alloys leads to the identification of six  distinct alloys.

Ferritic Iron

Pure iron , all other elements < 0.2%

Phosphoric Iron

Iron containing between c 0.2 to 1.0% P

Low carbon Steel

Iron containing  up to c. 0.3% C.

Medium carbon Steel

Iron containing  between  c. 0.3%  and 0.8% C.


High Carbon Steel


Iron containing more than 0.8%C, possibly as high as 2%C.

Piled or Banded Iron

A section of iron displaying bands of two or more of the other alloys.  This alloy can be ‘natural’ i.e. a result of e.g.  the smelting process or  deliberate when the alloys are selected and welded together.