Cast Iron Kettle

by Samantha WoodstockArchaeological Technician

Recently we have found several parts to multiple cast iron kettles. In two areas of the site, we recovered two different lugs/handles, a leg, and parts of a kettle’s body representing at least two, possibly multiple, cast iron kettles. The lugs/handles are extremely short with narrow angles that attach to either side of the kettle. The kettles were made to sit slightly above the ground so that hot coals or a fire would be directly underneath. The kettle’s legs, which resemble an old fashioned high heel shoe, are short and thick.

Currently we do not know the process in which the kettles recovered were made; however, it is possible that  they are parts of a Darby kettle. This portion of the site dates to the Late Colonial through Early National periods which aligns with the time period in which the Darby kettles were popular. Abraham Darby invented and patented the sand casting method in the early 1700s with the Bristol Iron Company of Coalbrookdale.

Darby kettles are molded in the process of sand casting. This process uses expandable sand casts or molds where hot liquid metal is poured into these molds to harden and cool. With sand casting, these molds proved less labor intensive than earlier techniques allowing for mass production. These cast iron kettles were distributed globally.


About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
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