At the start of the 17th century, Perth and Kinross already had an established tradition of metalworking. The hammermen, or metal workers, were one of the main guilds in the burgh of Perth. During the post-medieval period, the Perth hammermen’s guild at various points included goldsmiths, silversmiths, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, cutlers, clock makers, white-iron smiths, bellhangers and makers of brass and pewter (Hunt 1889). Debris from metalworking has been recovered from a number of post-medieval sites in Perth, including excavations on Methven Street and Mill Street (Photos-Jones and Atkinson 1999). However, in comparison to the research into medieval metalworking in the burgh of Perth, post-medieval metalworking has received much less attention. Interdisciplinary study of this topic would be beneficial.
The raw materials for metalworking in the 17th and 18th centuries were often imported, and there is extensive written evidence for the trade in iron ore between Scandinavia and Scotland (Whyte 1995). However, there was a certain amount of local iron smelting. Perth and Kinross has over 30 sites where there is evidence of bloomeries – small furnaces for smelting iron. There has been study of some of the bloomeries in the Rannoch area (Aitken 1970; Atkinson 2003). However, most of these sites have not been satisfactorily dated. Bloomeries are often assumed to be medieval but more detailed investigation can show much later use. Further study of bloomery sites in Perth and Kinross, including carbon dating, should be a priority.
Until the early 19th century, most metalworking in Perth and Kinross was relatively small-scale. Local small-scale metalworking continued in rural communities into the 20th century, and the sites of at least 69 blacksmiths’ workshops are listed in the Historic Environment Record for Perth and Kinross. It is likely that in reality many more existed, and further interdisciplinary research into the location and date of smithies would be of interest. Many smithies have been converted to other uses, such as homes, and careful investigation of these sites should be considered when alterations and development take place.
By the 1800s, larger-scale casting of iron and brass was also being undertaken, although Perth and Kinross did not become a major centre for manufacturing metal goods. Following the Industrial Revolution, the bulk of Scottish metalworking was focused on the Central Belt. However, the burgh of Perth did have several foundries in the 19th century. One of the best known of these was Perth Foundry (MPK13486), which made mill machinery, and was formerly located on Paul Street. Another foundry (MPK8560) stood between Foundry Lane and Murray Street. A watching brief on Murray Street (MPK3391) in 1985 discovered slag, clinker and other metalworking debris. An ironworks also existed between Milnathort and Kinross, where substantial buildings and an engine house survive. Further research into foundry sites and their products in the region would be helpful.