Iron Smelting in Romsey
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of iron smelting in Romsey in the Newton Lane car park area and possibly on the western side of the Market Place. This took place In the Roman period, (3rd/4th centuries) and in the mid-Saxon period (7th/8th centuries).
So far as we can see, raw iron was extracted from local mineral deposits and in the Saxon centuries, taken to Hamwic (Saxon Southampton) where it was fashioned into tools.
Evidence of iron in the local gravels can be seen because some of the local streams have an orange colour from rusty natural iron. It has been difficult to know where exactly the raw material was being obtained. Now siderite (stone with a high iron content) has been found locally and it is possible that it was being quarried on Green Hill, which would explain why that hill has such an uneven surface, particularly to the west of the A27.
In addition, charcoal would have been needed to fire the furnace. There was much woodland locally but where the wood was cut and turned into charcoal is as yet unknown. The smelters would also need water for the preparation of the stone ready for smelting, and there used to be a stream that ran through the edge of the modern Newton Lane car park behind the shops in Bell Street (and separate from the stream on the other side of the street by the Bus Station). In later centuries this stream was known as the Shitlake because it served as a sewer.
Click for Photographs Phoebe Merrick