Last edited 24 Feb 2021


Archaeometallurgy, Guidelines for Best Practice, published by Historic England in 2015, defines a furnace as: ‘…a structure used to hold the ore as the metal is extracted from it by smelting. Furnaces were usually made from clay and, because they were exposed to high temperatures, the clay was sometimes partially vitrified. The archaeological remains of furnaces and hearths are often similar.’

Modern, industrial furnaces provide heat for an industrial process, such as melting metals or other materials.

In some countries, the word ‘furnace’ may also be used to refer to boilers. For more information see: Boilers.

See also:

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