The word wrought is the old past tense of the verb to work. As irregular past-tense forms in English have historically been phased out over long periods of time, wrought became worked. Wrought iron literally means worked iron.
Wrought iron is a tough, malleable, ductile (bends or flows under shear stress) and can be easily welded. However, it is too soft to make blades and swords, or at least for their cutting edges, which need to be made of steel with a higher carbon content.
The Material - Wrought Iron
The making of wrought iron became established in Europe about 500 B.C. and was shaped by smelters or the indirect blast furnace process. The wrought iron was much harder than bronze, and the iron ores were more widely distributed. The other ingredient, charcoal, was also readily available.
Wrought iron, though not as hard as steel, did have a quality superior to steel in that it resisted rusting due to its silica, or glass, content. The silica arranged itself in thin layers in the wrought iron and restricted the formation of rust.
The eastern coast of North America was found to have considerable deposits of iron ore and the ample forest cover provided an excellent supply of charcoal to fuel the blast furnaces of the day, although a number of processes devised in the second half of the 18th century were used for making wrought iron without it.
The colonies exported a good amount of iron bar to England before the Revolution. During the Revolution bog iron from the New Jersey pine barrens supplied iron to cast cannons for our revolutionary forces.
After the Revolution iron production dropped off until the country reorganized. After that point iron, and then steel production grew at a phenomenal rate to support the great expansion of new industry and the great expansion west.
Wrought iron with its ductile rust resistant qualities is just about nonexistent today. We use the term wrought as an adjective concerning iron not as the very important noun it used to be.
The of the mild steels we use today to make the types of objects from an earlier time, may not resist rust to the degree wrought iron did but our improvements in metal coatings may help a bit.