ABSTRACT : A Training Course in Iron Smelting, using a small scale bloomery furnace. Artisan Blacksmith Darrell Markewitz offers a regular series of weekend long programs in a number of aspects of traditional Blacksmithing. Special courses include : layered steels (pattern welding), bladesmithing / knife making, bronze casting, iron smelting. Programs held at the Wareham Forge in Ontario Canada, with remote teaching offered at other facilities.
Learn the Art of the

Introduction to Smelting Iron

August 3 & 4

Saturday & Sunday (long day!)

(Requires at least 2 students due to materials costs)

Your instructor, Darrell Markewitz, is well known as a specialist in the Viking Age. He consulted on the Smithsonian's 'Vikings - North Atlantic Saga' and the Newfoundland Museum's 'Full Circle - First Contact'. He designed and produced the exhibit 'World of the Norse' for the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the 'Norse Encampment' living history program for Parks Canada. In 2001, he was part of a special research team at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC working on presenting Viking Age iron smelting at the site. Since then he has lead a series of experimental iron smelts, attempting to discover lost techniques as they might have been used by the Norse undertaken by the Dark Ages Re-creation Company. He is one of the core group of demonstrators and team leaders behind the highly successful 'Early Iron Symposium' - an annual event held at the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown NY. He continues to research, experiment into specifically 'Pre-Medieval' bloomery furnaces. As well as providing academic papers, he has worked on projects in Canada, the USA, the UK and Europe.

Introduction to Smelting Iron is an intensive hands on program, roughly 18 hours in duration. Students will prepare materials, build a smelter, then fire it to produce a workable iron bloom. The 'Econo Norse' smelter that will be used was designed to be quickly constructed of easily obtained materials. It is fired with charcoal and uses an electric blower for air supply. A bloom weighing roughly 15 lbs is expected from use of about 40 lbs of ore.

This program does not require any previous metalworking experience.

Programs are open to any physically able people, from young adults onwards. (Aged 16 an up - see a special note : Teens as Students). Any students with "learning \ physical disabilities" need to refer to the detail section on Course Requirements. English is the language of instruction. Sorry - the Wareham Forge is not really wheel chair accessible.
This program limited to three students only (inquire about group programs)

Econo Norse Smelter
A number of video segments showing past smelts can be found on Darrell's YouTube channel
Smelter Plan
Smelter Constructed

Saturday, the program starts with a background lecture covering the historical development and the practical elements of the small direct process bloomery furnace. The balance of the day will be spent constructing the 'Econo Norse' brick smelter itself. The smelt normally requires about 80 - 100 KG of charcoal to be smashed to size and sorted. Ore will be prepared, with various potential types being evaluated. At least some rock based ore will be roasted and crushed for the experience. Other furnace types will be examined (as part of ongoing experiments at Wareham). The working site will be prepared for the smelt the following day.


slag tapping
A LONG day Sunday will start at 8 AM with the pre-heating the furnace. Any more charcoal required will be prepared. The now cool ore will be crushed (about 20 - 40 KG required) The initial charge of charcoal is scheduled for roughly 10 am. The actual process of the smelt takes roughly 6 - 7 more hours. Participants will learn the effective managing of an operating smelter, including adding fuel and ore, controlling air flow, and taping slags. Valuable experience will be gained in how to interpret the sounds of a correctly operating furnace. extraction
Extracting Bloom
Initial Compaction
bloom cutting
Cutting the Bloom
After this, the resulting iron bloom will be extracted from the furnace - while the mass is still white hot!. It then is given a primary consolidation, compacting the surface using sledge hammers. The iron produced will be cut to sections and shared between the participants. finished bloom

This program does not require any previous metalworking experience, and is of interest to students of history as well as blacksmiths.

Fees: 'Iron Smelting' - $450 + HST
The course fee includes a handout on disk - and a portion of the bloom created. Students should bring a simple lunches - and 'hand meal' dinner Sunday (something that can be grabbed while managing the smelt!). There will be a handout provided with and overview of technique, equipment and material sources. All required safety equipment will be provided. Students are recommended to wear old clothes, which must be all natural fabrics (cotton ideal) and work boots. A long sleeved shirt and cap is recommended.

Application - Introduction Smelting Iron
August 3 & 4

Student Name (if gift / parent)Student Age
If student is under 19, I as parent have read provisions of 'Teens as Students' (indicate YES)
Contact E-mail:

Contact Phone:

What background, training or experience do you have with blacksmithing?

What aspects of Blacksmithing interest you?
(chose all that apply)

Small domestic items? Campware / Re-enactor's supplies? Bladesmithing? Architectural Designs?
Home Decor? Armour? Garden Accessories? Traditional Skils?

Where did you hear of this course?
(chose all that apply)

Internet Search? Web Link? Direct Referal? Met me personally?

Will you be camping at the forge?

Yes No
Do you wish to book the 'bunkie' (@$30 per night)

Yes No

Other Question / Comment? :

I hereby acknowledge that the activities involved in blacksmithing are potentially dangerous and I voluntarily accept any risks involved. I understand that the Wareham Forge and Darrell Markewitz will make every reasonable effort to maintain safety within the shop, but I will assume any liability for any accident or injury that may occur during this course.

Signed (give name): Date:

Click to send your request information as an email (info@warehamforge.ca)

Remember: to guarantee a place, ensure your application & deposit will be received at least 30 days before the course date you desire.
A cancellation may result in the loss of your deposit.

On receiving your deposit, a set of instructions detailing how to get to the Wareham Forge will be sent. (For planning, Wareham is near Flesherton, Ontario - about 45 minutes drive north of Orangeville.)

Book your course  via the
electronic payment system.
August 3 & 4



$250.00 CDN
'Introduction to Smelting Iron'

Course fees and deposits can be made with your credit card.
Contact me for further details

the Wareham Forge

The Hamlet of Wareham, R.R. #2 Proton Station, Ontario

(519) 923-9219 // info@warehamforge.ca

Interested in adding the drama of an Iron Smelting Demonstration to your Special Event or Educational Program?
Darrell has been a featured demonstrator at a number of past events, including :
2003 / 2004 / 2005 - Early Iron Symposiums
2005 - CANIRON V (Annapolis Royal NS)
2008 - Quad State Roundup (Troy OH)

Check for details on the 'Archaeology & Experiment - Iron Smelting' Program

For availablity and rates, please contact me.

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Photos by Darrell Markewitz and Neil Peterson - OABA smelt, May 2005
All text & images Darrell Markewitz - the Wareham Forge