Copper alloy artefacts and residues from its production can often be found during excavations, or identified during post excavation. Crucible, moulds, dripplets of metal and of-cuts make up non-ferrous metalworking assemblages. Visual examination should be used to identify and record these different pieces of evidence. By piecing together crucible fragments it is possible to classify them. XRF of crucible and mould fragments may reveal what metals were being used.

Research Questions and Answers

  • Visual examination of the entire assemblage can give an estimation of scale or production, and where it was being carried out.
  • Piecing together crucibles and moulds can reveal more about the technology used, and may even reveal what artefact types were being made on site.
  • XRF analysis of mould, crucible and metal fragments may reveal what composition of metals were being used, i.e. bronze, brass or gunmetals.
  • Metallography of copper artefacts, like iron artefacts, can reveal how the object was made. Whether it was worked or cast, and exactly how it was worked.


The cost of examination and identification of copper alloy artefacts and working residues is determined by the size of the assemblage. The approximate charge is £300 per day.

For metallography of specific copper alloy artefacts, the equipment is relatively inexpensive but metallography is very labour-intensive, which does increase cost. Therefore the price per artefact for metallography alone is £200 per artefact.

To accurately determine the composition of the alloys XRF (or SEM-EDX) analysis is required but this can be done in batches of objects and will be charged at a daily rate of £350. Discounts can be provided for large sample sets. There may be discounts for charity/amateur groups or assemblages that fit within my research interest.


Bayley, J (1988) Non-ferrous Metalworking: Continuity and Change. In EA Slater and JO Tate (eds) Science and Archaeology Glasgow 1987. Oxford: BAR British Series 196. 193-208.

Bayley, J (1989) Non-metallic evidence for metalworking. In Y Manidh (ed.) Archaeometry: Proceedings of the 25th International Symposium. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Bayley, J., Crossley, D. and Ponting, M. 2008. Metals and metalworking. A research framework for archaeometallurgy. London: Historical Metallurgy Society

Dungworth, D (1997) Roman Copper Alloys: Analysis of Artefacts from Northern Britain. Journal of Archaoelogical Science 24: 901-910.

Mortimer, C, Pollard, AM and Scull, C (1986) XRF analyses of some Anglo-Saxon copper alloy finds from Watchfield, Oxfordshire. Historical Metallurgy 20(1): 36-41.