European iron technology changed dramatically during the Middle Ages, as the ancient but inefficient “bloomery” production technique was gradually succeeded by the blast furnace. Such technological developments had a dramatic impact on European society and economy, and facilitated many of the developments of the subsequent Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, we lack information on some of the fundamental issues underlying this transition. The applicant, Dr. Patrice de Rijk, will examine these issues through the scientific analysis and historical contextualisation of the important medieval iron smelting site at Stanley Grange, Derbyshire, UK. As a result of his research, important new insights will be developed into the progression and transfer of medieval iron technology, and of the economic and cultural ties that bound together individuals, institutions, and states in pre-modern Europe. The tangible benefits of the research are numerous: 1) For the host institution (the University of Nottingham), the applicant’s research represents the addition of new technical and intellectual expertise. It will facilitate the conversion of a forgotten post-excavation backlog stored in the University Museum into a primary research resource. 2) For the applicant, the unique combination of expertise in medieval archaeology and ancient materials at Nottingham will have a clear and measurable benefit to his intellectual development. By conducting his research, teaching, and working within a UK university, the applicant’s chances of achieving long-term re-integration into European academic life will be dramatically improved. 3) For the European Research Area, the research and training will produce one of the very few scholars with pan-European expertise in medieval iron technology, and the ability to interpret evidence in its full technological and historical context. This represents a true contribution to new European expertise and excellence in these fields.
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