Experimental IRON SMELTING

How did the Norse during the Viking Age make iron blooms from bog ore?
Experimental Archaeology can give insight into the techniques used in Northern Europe to operate direct reduction iron smelting furnaces.
This is a record of the ongoing series by Darrell Markewitz,
assisted by members of the Dark Ages Re-creation Company.
Wareham, Ontario, Canada is this centre for practical research into Norse methods in North America.

Practical Guides can be found lower down

Experimental Overview
Available in three forms:

top extraction
smelt at
                  Vinland
compaction

The first is a point form version of the main information, presented with reference images from the individual smelts.

2001 to 2005
2006 • 2007
• 2008
2009
• 2010 • 2011
2012 • 2013
• 2014
2015
• 2016 • 2017
2018 • 2019 • 2020

The second is the text combined version of the main data.
2001 - 2008 : Go on HERE.
2008 - 2018 : Go on HERE
2018 - 2020 : Go on HERE
The third is an expanded data base styled version of all of the recorded experimental variables for each smelt. Go on HERE.

Experimental Iron Smelting - Links to video on YouTube:
Stone Slab with Blow Hole
October 2007
Demonstration at Quad State
September 2008
Icelandic Work Dynamic Test
October 2008
Icelandic 4
November 2008
Vinland 1
June 2009
Cutting a Bloom
(Vinland 1)

Vinland 2
October 2009
Vinland 3
November 2009
'Econo Norse' Furnace
November 2010

2001 - 2005

Many of the iron smelts were carried out with the participation of members of
the Dark Ages Re-creation Company
The chart below provides direct links to the separate set of documentation by Neil Peterson : www.darkcompany.ca/iron

In an effort to designate which experiments were carried out with the assistance of DARC, look for boxes with this colour.

Smelt 1
June 2001
Smelt 3
June 2003
on DARC
Smelt 4
June 2004
on DARC
Smelt 5
October 2004
Smelt 6
October 2004
on DARC
Smelt 7
February 2005
Smelt 8
February 2005
Smelt 9
May 2005
on DARC
Smelt 10
June 2005
on DARC
Smelt 11
September 2005
on DARC
Smelt 12
September 2005
Smelt 13
November 2005
on DARC
Smelt 14
February 2006
Smelt 15
March 2006
Smelt 16
March 2006
Smelt 17
June 2006
on DARC
Smelt 18
September 2006
on DARC
Smelt 19
October 2006
Smelt 20
October 2006
Smelt 21
November 2006
on DARC
Smelt 22
November 2006
Smelt 23
June 2007
Smelt 24
June 2007
on DARC
Smelt 25
June 2007
on DARC
Smelt 26
October 2007
on DARC
Smelt 27
October 2007
on DARC
Smelt 28
November 2007
Smelt 29
March 2008
Smelt 30
March 2008
Smelt 31
March 2008
Smelt 32
April 2008
on DARC
Smelt 33
April 2008
Smelt 34
May 2008
Smelt 35
May 2008
Smelt 36
June 2008
on DARC
Smelt 37
September 2008
Smelt 38
October 2008
on DARC
Smelt 39
November 2008
on DARC
Smelt 40
May 2009
on DARC
Smelt 41
October 2009
on DARC
Smelt 42
November 2009
on DARC
Smelt 43
June 2010
on DARC
Smelt 44
August 2010
on DARC
Smelt 45
November 2010
on DARC
Smelt 46
March 2011
Smelt 47
April 2011
Smelt D24
June 2011
on DARC
Smelt D25
July 2011
on DARC
Smelt 48
October 2011
on DARC
Smelt 49
November 2011
on DARC
Smelt 50
May 2012
Smelt 51
May 2012
on DARC
Smelt 52
August 2012
Smelt 53
May 2013
Smelt 54
May 2013
on DARC
Smelt 55
October 2013
Smelt 56
June 2014
Smelt 57
August 2014
Smelt 58
August 2014
Smelt 59
August 2014
Smelt 60
June 2015
on DARC
Smelt 61
October 2015
on DARC
Smelt 62
May 2016
Smelt 63
June 2016
Smelt 64
September 2016
Smelt 65
September 2016
Smelt 66
September 2016
Smelt 67
September 2016
Smelt 68
September 2016
Smelt 69
October 2016
on DARC
Smelt 70
October 2016
on DARC
Smelt 71
November 2016
Smelt 72
November 2016
Smelt 73
June 2017
Smelt 74
July 2017
on DARC
Smelt 75
August 2017
Smelt 76
June 2018
on DARC
Smelt 77
June 2018
Smelt 78
September 2018
Smelt 79
October 2018
Smelt 80
October 2018
Smelt 81
November 2018
Smelt 82
June 2019
Smelt 83
October 2019
Smelt 84
November 2019
Smelt 85
June 2020
Smelt 86
October 2020
Smelt 87
October 2020
Smelt 88
June 2021

Individual Smelt Reports
Smelt Sequence / Furnace Layout / Overview Reports

 Colour coding used below :
with DARC
Production
Teaching
Demonstrations
Special Projects
'Vinland' Series
Icelandic Hals
Icelandic
'Turf 2 Tools'


#1 - Smelt in Vinland
June - 2001
Written Report
page one / two / three
Furnace
image

#2 / D1 - Boxed Bowl 'Vinland'
May 25 - 2002
Brief Written Report
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson
Furnace
image
#3 / D2 - Tall Stack
June - 2003
Brief Written Report
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson
Front Elevation
field drawing

Smelt Sequence
table by Neil Peterson


#4/ D3 - Low Stack
12 June - 2004
Smelt Sequence
table by Neil Peterson
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson
Front Elevation
field drawing
#5 - Early Iron One
10 October - 2004
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Visual Overview
one / two / three
Front Elevation
field drawing
#6 / D4 - Econo Norse Prototype
23 October - 2004
Smelt Sequence
table by Neil Peterson
Furnace Excavated
field drawing

Front Elevation
Top View
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson

#7 & 8 - Econo Norse at Smeltfest
March, 2005
Smelt Sequence A
experimental data
Front Elevation A
field drawing


Smelt Sequence B
experimental data
Front Elevation B
field Drawing

#9 - OABA / Econo Norse
May, 2005
Report with Sequence
experimental data
Furnace
image
Econo Norse H/O
as prepared
#10 / D5 - CANIRON Norse Test
June 11, 2005
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson
#11 / D6 - CANIRON V Norse Demo
September 1, 2005
Annapolis Royal NS
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawings
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson
#12 - Early Iron Two
October 9, 2005
Cooperstown NY
Smelt Sequence
one / two
Elizabeth Hendrix
Furnace type
image
Overall View
image
#13 / D7 - Short Shaft
November 12, 2005
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
drawning
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson

#14 - Black Rock Forge
February 2006
Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
#15 & 16 - Smeltfest 06
March 8, 2006
Smelt A Sequence
Experimental Data
Smelt B Sequence
Experimental Data

Furnace Layout
scaled drawing
Construction Method
field drawing
Tuyere Position
field drawing

Wall Erosion
field drawing
Second Firing
field drawing
#17 / D8 - DARC Spring Smelt
June 12, 2006
Furnace Layout A
Furnace Layout B
field drawings
Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
Draft Report
blog posting
#18 / D9 - DARC at Bonfield
September, 2006

Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
Draft Report
blog posting
#19 & 20 - Early Iron 3
October 7, 2006

'Loki' Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing

Smelt B Sequence
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#21 / D10 - DARC Fall Smelt
November 5, 2006
Front Elevation
field drawing
Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
#22 - 'Redemption' Smelt
November 6, 2006
Front Elevation
field drawings
Written Report
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
#23 - Iron Smelting (course)
June 2, 2007
Written Report
Blog Posting
Front Elevation
Field Drawing

#24 & 25 / D11 & 12
'Hot Swap' Double Smelt

June 9, 2007

Smelt Sequences
Experimental Data
Debris Field Plan
field drawing

Smelter Cross Section
field drawing
Front Elevation
field drawing
Top View - Detail
field drawing
'Towards an Icelandic Smelt'
An evaluation of the Hals site
Fall 2007
See 2021 for further commentaries
#26 - Icelandic ONE
October 8, 2007
Smelt Sequences
Experimental Data
Smelt in Progress
Quicktime Movie (1.9 Mb)

Theoretical Set Up
field drawing
Front Elevation
field drawing
Cross Section
field drawing
#27 / D13 - Icelandic TWO
October 27, 2007
Smelt Sequences
Experimental Data
Base Construction
field drawing
 
Front Elevation
field drawing
Top View
field drawing
#28 'Martin Team' (course)
November 25, 2007
Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing

#29, 30, 31 - Smeltfest 08
March15 - 21, 2008

An Overview
Draft - taken from Blog
Smelt A Sequence
'Front Plate' test
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing


Smelt B Sequence
'DARC Dirt 1' test
Experimental Data


Smelt C Sequence
'Front Plate' test
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing


'Aristotle's Furnace'
Field Drawing

#32 / D14 - 'DARC Dirt' - 2nd Test
April13, 2008
Written Report
Draft - taken from Blog
Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing

#33, 34, 35 - Iron Smelting at Thy
(Heltborg Museum - Denmark)

April 29 - May 4, 2008

Smelt Sequence
'Espelund A'
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing


Smelt Sequence
'Espelund B'
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing
   
Smelt Sequence
Method vs Ore Test
Experimental Data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#36 / D15 - 'DARC Dirt' - 3nd Test
June 14, 2008
Written Report
Draft - taken from Blog
Theoretical
layout drawing
Front Elevation
field drawing

Smelt Sequence
Experimental Data
Slag Balances
Experiment Measurements
#37 - Quad State Demo
September 27, 2008

Written Report
short overview

Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
#38 / D16 - Work Dynamic Test
October 12, 2008

Written Report
detailed overview

Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
Existing / Elevation
field drawings

Front / Plan / Section
theoretical layout
#39 / D17 - Icelandic 4
November 8, 2008
Written Report
short overview
Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
Plan & Elevation
field drawing
'An Iron Smelt in Vinland'
Recreating the clues from L'Anse aux Meadows
(drafts - INDEX to Individual Segments)
Working Area
blog posting
#40 / D18 - Vinland 1
May 30, 2009
Written Report
short overview
Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
Theoretical
work layout drawing

Front Elevation
field drawing
YouTube Video
General Overview
YouTube Video
Cutting the Bloom
#41 / D19 - Vinland 2
October 11, 2009
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
Theoretical
work layout drawing

 
Box Bellows Plan
working drawing
Front Elevation
field drawing
#42 / D20 - Vinland 3
November 7, 2009
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
Theoretical
work layout drawing
#43 / D21 - Vinland 4
June 12, 2010
Written Report
detailed overview
Front Elevation
field drawing
Theoretical
work layout drawing
#46 / D22 - Vinland 5
August 23 , 2010
Blog Posting
brief report
Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
Front Elevation
field drawing



Debris Field
Comparison with Archaeology
#45 / D23 - DARC at CanIRON 8 Preparation A
November 6, 2010
Draft Report
photo essay
Smelt Sequence
Experimetal Data
YouTube Video
Extraction Sequence
#46 - 'Africa' - Smeltfest '11
March 22-23, 2011
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#47 - Iron Smelt At Brown (course)
April 22 & 23, 2011
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
Archaeology & Experiment - Iron Smelting
Details of the 4 day program
Furnace Temperatures
experimental data
Ores Used
experimental data

D24 - DARC at CanIRON 8
Preparation B
June 11, 2011
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Included here for completeness
I offered supervision only
D25 - DARC at CanIRON 8
July 28, 2011
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Included here for completeness
I was not involved directly.
#48 / D26 - Slag Pit Furnace
October 9, 2011
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Slag Pit Plan
field drawing

Furnace Temperatures
experimental data
Bellows Test
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#49 - Slag Pit Furnace 2
November, 2011
Written Report
detailed overview
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#50 - Production Smelt
May 5 , 2012
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation A
Front Elevation B
field drawings
#51 / D27 - Return to Icelandic
May 26 , 2012
Blog Posting
brief report
Smelt Sequence
Bellows Test
experimental data
Layout
Front Elevation
field drawings
#52 - Earth, Air Celtic Demonstration
August 11, 2012
Blog Posting
brief report
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#53 - International Congress on Medieval Studies - Demonstration
May 11 , 2013
Blog Posting
brief report
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
scaled drawing

Extaction Video
by M. Cramer

#54 - Introduction to Iron Smelting Course
May 25 , 2013
Blog Posting
brief report
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#55 - Iron & Experiment
Washington College

October , 2013

Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
T2T-1-team
Rhynie Man axe

" From Turf to Tools is an ongoing investigation in to landscape, material and craft, inspired by local archeological investigations in Rhynie, Aberdeenshire (Scotland).

From 11-24th August, the collaboration of Scottish Sculpture Workshop artist Eden Jolly and master blacksmith Darrell Markewitz, with Dr. Gordon Noble, archeologist at University of Aberdeen, will seek to recreate a ceremonial axe – as seen on the Rhynie Man standing stone – through smelting and forging locally sourced materials. "

Backround documentation and discussion leading up to the Turf to Tools project can be found via blog postings on 'Hammered Out Bits' :


For more details on the Turf to Tools project (several photo essays and commentaries) :

Turf to Tools - Project Outline
A Scottish Late Iron Age Smelt
Some Considerations for Iron Ore
Pictish Late Iron Age Smelt - Overview
Pictish Iron - Bloom to Bar

 

#56 - Turf to Tools
 Prototype Smelt

June 14, 2014
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#57 - Turf to Tools - Smelt One
SSW - Lumsden Scotland
August 12, 2014
Smelt Overview
brief report
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#58 - Turf to Tools - Smelt Two
August 2014
-
 Smelt Sequence
experimental data
 as above
#59 - Turf to Tools - Smelt Three
August 2014
-
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
 Front Elevation
field drawing
Turf to Tools - Peat Test
August 2014
- as above
#60 / D28 - Icelandic 'Grass Sod' Furnace #6
Fall 2014 - Summer 2015
Experiment Overview
brief report
Smelt Sequence
Input = Output
experimental data

Front Elevation
Recovered Mass
field drawings
Furnace Exavation
brief report
Recovered Bloom
brief report
#61 / D29- Icelandic 'Grass Sod'
Furnace #7

October 12, 2015
Detailed Overview
DARC - Neil Peterson
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#62 - Production Smelt
May 22, 2016

Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
5/12 drawing
#63 - Multiple Bellows Test
SCA 50th event
June 20, 2016
Bladder Concept
report pending
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#64 - ARTEfakty Smelt One
Proszkow Poland
September 9, 2016
Experiment Overview
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#65 - ARTEfakty Smelt Two
Proszkow Poland
September 11, 2016
Experiment Overview
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing

Interviewed
blog posting + video clip


#66 - Turf to Tools 2
Smelt One / Lecht
SSW, Lumsden Scotland
September 17, 2016
Experiment Overview
(brief) blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#67 - Turf to Tools 2
Smelt Two / Peat
SSW, Lumsden Scotland
September 24, 2016
Experiment Overview
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
as above
#68 - Turf to Tools 2
Smelt Three
SSW, Lumsden Scotland
September 27, 2016
Experiment Overview
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
as above
#69 - Smelting Furnace Test
Scottish Crannog Centre, Aberfeldy
October 3, 2016


Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#70 / D30 - Icelandic 'Grass Sod' Furnace #8
Schweitzer & Scroggie / Amaranth
October 29, 2016
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Furnace Outline
field drawing

Experiment Overview
brief report
Front Elevation
reconstructed

#71 - Norse Bellows Test / Demo
ReARC, Williamsburg VA
November 19, 2016
Smelt in Progress
short video clip
Front Elevation
field drawing
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#72 - Norse Iron Course
Wareham
November 30, 2016



Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#73 - Dark Ages Iron Smelting - course
SCA Fruits of Our Labours event
June 21, 2017

Front Elevation
field drawing
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#74 / D31 - Iron at Vinland
L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC
July 16, 2017
Experiment Overview
blog posting
Front Elevation
field drawing
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#75 - Celtic Iron Age
Scottish Crannog Centre, Aberfeldy
August 6, 2017
Background Research 1
blog posting
Background Research 2
blog posting
Background Research 3
blog posting

Background Research 4
blog posting
Bellows Design 1
blog posting
Bellows Design 2
blog posting

Experiment Design
blog posting
Experiment Overview
blog posting
Furnace Design
theoretical drawing


Front Elevations
field drawings
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
# 76 - Slag Pit Furnace #3
Wareham
June 23, 2018
Furnace Construction
blog posting
Experiment Overview
blog posting
Excavating Furnace
blog posting

Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing

#77 - Iron Smelting in the Viking Age
Wareham
June 30, 2018
Experiment Overview
written report
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Bloom Analysis
Bill Short - Hurstwic
(as PDF)

Front Elevation
field drawing


#78 - CAMELOT Conference - demo
St Jerome's University, Waterloo
September16, 2018
Furnace Construction
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing

Experiment Overview
written report
Bloom Cutting
blog posting
Materials Test
blog posting
#79 - Norse in North America filming
Wareham
October 10, 2018
'America's Lost Vikings'
commentary on episode
video clip of smelt
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#80 / D32 - 'Roman' Passive
Tall Shaft

Wareham
October 13, 2018
Design & Operation
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing

Excavation & Results
blog posting
Temperature Sequence
experimental data
Original Concept
field drawing

Experiment Conclusions
blog posting


#81 'Gromps' / 2 Stage Test
Wareham
November 3, 2018
Experiment Design
blog posting
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Front Elevation
field drawing
#82 - Stone Block
Furnace System Test

June 2019
Furnace Construction
field drawing
Front Elevation
field Drawing
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#83 - Stone Block
Slag Bowl Test
October 2019
Base Setup
field Drawing
as above
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#84 - Stone Block
November 2019

as above
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#85 / D31- 'Look at the Bones' Test
June 2020
Abstract
experiment concept
Furnace Details
field drawing
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#86 - Introduction to Smelting Course
October 2020

layout as
June 2019
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
# 87 / D32 - '65 for 65'
October 2020
Experiment Overview
detailed report
Furnace Details
field drawing
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
Hals Icelandic - Phase 3
considerations & commentaries
'Evidence of Absence' Erosion of Bloomery Furnaces
Spring 2021
'Sticking To It' - a clay mix for Icelandic
June 2021 (blog post)
'Stacking Up' - on constructing clay furnace walls
August 2021

Into Phase 3
A re-evaluation of approach
Summer 2021
PHASE 3 : P3 A & B
Detailed Report
Formal Style - as PDF


#88 / D32 - Icelandic Clay Test (P3-A)
June 2021
Brief Overview
(blog post)
Furnace Details
plan
elevation
Smelt Sequence
experimental data
#89 / D33 - Icelandic Clay Repeated (P3-B)
September 2021
Brief Overview
Includes new air system builts
(blog post)

Furnace Repairs
elevation
Smelt Sequence
experimental data

Formal Papers / Commentaries


Continuing Adventures in Early Iron Production
An overview of experimental iron smelts,
2001 - 2008.

An updating and revision of the paper delivered at the 'Friends of the Medieval Studies Society of the Royal Ontario Museum
 1st Annual Symposium' in March of 2006.
The Full text of the revised verson can be found at Continuing Adventures in Early Iron.
The text of the original paper (35 page version) can be found at ROM - Adventures in Smelting .

TOM iron

Towards an Icelandic Smelt
Based on the remains at Hals

Prepared with the assistance of Kevin Smith & Neil Peterson

This is an 'in house' document outlining the archaeology and thought behind the Icelandic / Sod Smelter series
 Prepared October, 2008
Continue to 'An Icelandic Smelt'

iron at Hals

Concerning the Shape of Blooms

Although originally published on the blog 'Hammered Out Bits' this short article has a more formal structure (footnotes and references).
 Original date February 9, 2010
The text can be found mirrored here - Shape of Blooms.

ideal bloom

An Iron Smelt in Vinland
Converting Archaeological Evidence
to Practical Method.

Published in "Can These Bones Come to Life?",
Cramer (editor) 2014
The full text of the revised verson (V3 - June 2010)
Available as a PDF : Iron Smelting in Vinland.

LAM hut
'But If You Don't Get Any IRON...'
Towards an Effective Method for Small Iron Smelting Furnaces.

Published on in the EXARC Journal : issue 2012/1 
Available as a PDF
Viking Smelt
Standardized Reporting of
Experimental Iron Smelting
- a modest (?) proposal


This article was sparked by discussions leading up to the orginally scheduled 2020 Woodford Furnace Festival (Ireland). Completed as a 'semi - academic' format, it was submitted and published in the EXARC Journal : issue 2021/1
Available as a PDF
measures
Westward Viking - Iron
From Norway to Iceland ... to Vinland


This narrated Powerpoint style presentation was prepared for
the 'virtual' 2020 Woodford Furnace Festival

Video on YouTube

Now with 70% Less Clay!

Experiments with Viking Age Icelandic Turf walled Iron Smelting Furnaces

This narrated Powerpoint style presentation was part of the 'virtual' 2021 EAC12 Conference
(Experimental Archaeology).
Prepared with the assistance of Kevin P. Smith and Neil Peterson.


Evidence of Absence
Erosion of Bloomery Furnaces


This report is an overview of an ongoing process of observing a number of clay built furnaces as they weather over time, started in 2004 and added to over the years.
This includes some observations that relate back to the continuing experimental series based on the Viking Age furnaces excavated at Hals, Iceland. : Prepared May 2021

Continue to : Evidence of Absence
erosion
Stacking Up
On constructing clay furnace walls


This report is a consideration of what has been learned from the construction of a large number of clay mixture furnaces over the last two decades.
This includes some observations that relate back to the continuing experimental series based on the Viking Age furnaces excavated at Hals, Iceland. : Prepared August 2021

Continue to : Stacking Up
stacking
Into Phase 3
Continuing experiments with iron smelting based on Hals, Iceland


This commentary is a re-evaluation of the Icelandic series, looking again at the archaeology, now with an additional 15 years of iron smelting experience.
This includes discussion of how we are approaching the next series of experiments, testing elements suggested by the Viking Age furnace complex at Hals, Iceland : Prepared Summer 2021

Continue to : Phase 3
p3-build
Other Articles, Notes & Reports
student build

Archaeology & Experiment :
Iron Smelting


A hands on experience in Experimental Archaeology

A 4 day hands on program for senior students, combining class room sessions with the direct experience of building and operating a short shaft, slag tapping, direct process iron bloomery furnace.

For more details to to Archaeology & Experiment

student extracts
hammered out bits
Is my BLOG - on it you will find a regular series of short postings on various aspects of Experimental Iron Smelting
Go to 'Hammered Out Bits'
The following articles are from the very start of the Experimental series, and are considerably dated. (Included to document the entire process undertaken.
' Iron in the Viking Age '
A set of point form notes that accompanied a 2002 lecture
Go on 'Iron in Viking Age'.
' The Limits of Experiment '
This outline detailing the 'unknowns' was originally prepared in Spring 2004 - with only TWO experimental smelts to draw upon.
Go on 'Experiment Limits'.
' Iron Smelting Series - An Experimental Philosophy '
These notes cover discussions and decisions made by the primary smelt team of DARC during the smelter prep on May 15, 2004
Go on Directions of Experiments.
Know Your Source!
Darrell Markewitz - an Iron Smelting CV
Compiled for my Canada Council Grant, Spring 2008
Go on Iron CV.
Many of the following are more 'internal' documents, but may prove of interest to others involved in Early Iron.
Air Flow Rates
A table of measured rates from our standard equipment  (Revised October 2007)
Go on Air Rates.
Bellows Air Test
Measuring Operator rates using a reconstructed Norse blacksmith's bellows
(Report October 2007)
Go on Bellows Test.
Iron Content of Ores
A table of major components in our standard ores (Revised 2021)
Go on Iron Ores.
Blooms On Hand
A table style summary of smelter production up to April 2006
Go on Bloom List.
Charcoal Pit Burn Experiment
Photo Essay - 'a demonstration of an experiment' 
(July 2007)
Go on Charcoal.

'Heat by Colour'

A visual reference - Colours

'Bloom to Bar'
Table of measured results to % Yields
(December 2018, largely based on the 2012 OAC Project)
Go on to Bloom 2 Bar
'Smelting with Sven & Yorgi'
A 'thought experiment'.
How would the process of smelting iron be described - in the Viking Age?
Go on to Sven & Yorgi
Details on how to build small scale test bed and teaching equipment
 - made from easily available materials :

the Econo Norse Smelter
Developed by the DARC smelt team - using standard fire brick packed with sand
Go on Econo Norse Handout.

Econo Norse

the Flue Tyle Smelter
Developed by Sauder and Williams - using a ceramic chimney liner
Go on Flue Tyle Handout.

Flue
                                      Tyle

the Norse Short Shaft
A handout developed for courses - historic clay cobb furnace. (based on 'If you don't get any iron...')
Go on Short Shaft Handout.

Short Shaft
the Aristotle Remelting Furnace
A handout on building and running this table top sized furnace, which can be used to modify the carbon of any scrap iron metals,
Go on Aristotle Furnace
aristotle

45 Gallon Drum Charcoal
Developed by Lee Sauder and Williams - a simple method described
Go on to http://iron.wlu.edu/reports/CharcoalBarrel.htm


Originally published in Expedition Magazine :
University of Pennsylvania Museum, Volume 49, Number 3 - Winter 2007

Elizabeth is one of the consistent participants in the EARLY IRON series of symposiums. At Early Iron 3 (2006) she interviewed Lee, Skip, Mike and myself. This article is the result. The link will give you a direct download of the article as a PDF.
Royal Oak I would like to thank ROYAL OAK CHARCOAL who had supported the initial series with the kind donation of the fuel used in the majority of experiments from 2003 to 2008. Each smelt consumes as much as 100 kg of charcoal, and it is safe to say that the commitment to this research program would have proved impossible without Royal Oak's generous support. Over the years, Royal Oak charcoal has proven consistent and of high quality.
Thanks goes to McDonald's Home Hardware of Dundalk Ontario.
Glen and Brent McDonald have patiently helped with many strange requests for over 30 years.
More importantly, since 2009 they have provided all the charcoal at reduced costs. (Starting with the 'Vinland' series of smelts).
OAC
OAC16

The Turf to Tools - TWO project, at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, September / October 2016,
was supported by a
Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant.
The Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

The original Project Grant covered air travel to Scotland and four weeks on the Turf to Tools Two project. I was able to apply additional funding to extend the trip for an additional three weeks to cover:
• Participation in the Ypres 2017 International Blacksmith's event
• Participation in the
ARTEfakty Iron Smelting event
• Research at the Scottish Crannog Centre

Those interested in tracing the activities, check the many postings on the blog over September & October, 2016

Canada Council
The Turf to Tools - Part ONE project, at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, August 2014,

was in part supported by a Travel Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $157 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 157 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

OAC
'Iron Blooms to Working Bars' was a special project from Feburary 15 to May 15, 2012.
It was supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant.
The Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

The purpose of the grant was to cover three months dedicated time to allow development of a practical understanding of how to covert raw blooms into working bars, and if time permits, into finished objects. Part of the process will be to document the ongoing project, and publish the results via a dedicated blog, this web site, and through demonstrations, formal papers or journal articles.

Links to OTHER EXPERIMENTERS

Go on Links

OnlineConversion Home
Length | Velocity | Temperature | Volume | Weight | Area
Density| Energy | Force | Power | Pressure | Time

Google
WWW www.warehamforge.ca

Introduction to Smelting Iron

This HANDS ON course is dependant on registrations
(requires full class of 4 students due to materials cost)

This roughly 20 hour session will involve the student in the construction and operation of the 'EconoNorse' small scale iron smelter. On Friday evening students will cover the theoretical and historical background of smelting iron: ores, furnaces, process, equipment. Saturday students will build the furnace itself, plus prepare charcoal and ore. An early start for a LONG day Sunday will start with the pre-heating the furnace. The actual process of the smelt takes roughly 6 - 8 hours. After this, the resulting iron bloom will be extracted from the furnace, and given a primary consolidation. The iron produced will be cut to sections and shared between the participants. This program does not require any previous metalworking experience, and is of interest to students of history as well as blacksmiths.

For more details on this special program - go Smelting Course .

pull out guide
Main Sections

GALLERY

CUSTOM WORK

ARCHITECTURAL

for GARDENS

REPRODUCTIONS

TRAINING

IRON SMELTING

VIKING AGE

SITE INDEX

The experimental work documented here is supported by
the Wareham Forge

bits
OTHER WEB PUBLICATIONS
darrell
Who is Darrell Markewitz?
Unless otherwise indicated :
All text and photographs © Darrell Markewitz, the Wareham Forge.