Britain has been a major iron-making country throughout historical times and in fact during the Roman occupation it was one of the most important iron producers of the Roman Empire. Iron-working had started in the Weald of Kent and Sussex in the last century before Christ and therefore pre-dated the Roman invasion by some 70 years.

By Roman times nearly all the major iron ore deposits in Britain were being worked, including the haematites of Cumberland and the coal measures' Blackband ores. In addition, the carstones of East Anglia were exploited, a then important source of iron which is now of so little significance that most authors fail even to mention it. By this period, the most distinct iron regions of the country had begun to appear; namely the Weald and the Forest of Dean and it is of interest to note that these two areas remained supreme until the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of coke for smelting. In marked contrast to the present location factors of the industry, in the first century AD, economic conditions were ideal here, away from coal-fields, as the ore was very easily reduced in the primitive furnaces, while charcoal supplied the fuel from the abundant reserves in the surrounding forest areas.

Locations of Iron-works in Roman Britain