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After [[Iron Working|iron]], bronze was probably the commonest metal used by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Bronze is a mixture of copper and a small percentage of tin (and sometimes a small amount of lead). Any alloy, or mixture, of copper and tin is called bronze. Many bronze alloys also contain small amounts of other materials.
Making bronze items was a difficult and complex craft carried out by specialists at the sites where the ore was dug. Once the copper ore was dug out of the ground the copper had to be separated from the waste material. This was done by smelting the ore in a furnace with sand and charcoal. When the temperature inside the furnace reached about 1100°C (by pumping with hand bellows) the copper melted and flowed to the bottom where it was drawn out and cast into ingots.
When the craftsman had his copper ingots there were several ways he could make the finished casting.
''Original article by Ben Levick, 1993<br>Revised by Roland Williamson, 2000''