Wealden Iron Research Group
The Wealden Iron Research Group (WIRG) was founded to focus and initiate research into the extinct iron industry of the Sussex, Kent and Surrey Weald, and aims to foster interest in this subject, to work with other groups and institutions having allied aims and, above all, to publish its researches. Find out more about their work and interests at www.wealdeniron.org.uk∞.
One of the original aims of WIRG, to publish a new survey of the industry, has resulted in the new standard reference on the subject, The Iron Industry of the Weald, by Henry Cleere and David Crossley, first published in 1985 and now in its second edition, which contains much of WIRG's research over the past thirty-five years. In 1981, the group won the BBC's Chronicle Award for Archaeology.
Although WIRG is predominantly a loose association of individuals who pursue their own interests and researches, it does have active sections which engage in particular activities. Its Field Group organises a monthly programme of fieldwork between October and April, looking for undiscovered sites, surveying, and carrying out small-scale excavations. Meeting on Saturdays, the forays, as they are called, take place all over the Weald, and a number of projects are in progress. One of these is the systematic field walking of an area of the Weald to record all the iron-making sites there. Another group within WIRG undertakes experimental iron smelting at a primitive bloomery furnace on Ashdown Forest, attempting to replicate the products and waste materials of the Iron Age, Roman and medieval iron makers. Members assisted in an experimental smelt for one of the Time Team's broadcasts. The group holds two meetings a year, in January/February and in July, with visiting speakers. The summer meeting also includes a site visit. In addition, the group advises archaeological units where iron-related material is being excavated, and has provided information for several television and radio programmes. Some of WIRG's members are regular lecturers to local societies, and have run adult education courses on the industry.
WIRG is managed by a committee, which is elected annually at its summer meeting, and which administers the Tebbutt Research Fund, awarding small grants towards research into the Wealden iron industry. For details of this fund, and of membership of the group, which at present numbers about 170.
Tebbutt Research Fund
This fund was established as a tribute to the life and work of the late C Fred Tebbutt OBE FSA, the first President of WIRG. Applications are invited from individuals and groups, for grants towards aiding research, including associated expenses, into any aspect of the Wealden iron industry. Applications should be received before 31 March each year.
David Brown, Hon Secretary, 2 West Street Farm Cottages, Maynards Green, Heathfield, Sussex TN21 0DG, tel 01435 812506, email firstname.lastname@example.org∞, web www.wealdeniron.org.uk/about.htm∞.
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