Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Books on Saxon/"Viking" Blacksmithing

Jon Kerr

Recommended Posts

Mainly you find books containing artifacts from that time period.  A lot of experimental archaeology  is done replicating such items but less is written up.  Some basics: use real wrought iron, bloomery produced if you can find it. (Modern mild steel dates till after mid 19th century)  Use a charcoal forge with twin single action bellows. (Coal use in smithing dated to the High Later Middle Ages, "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" Gies & Gies) single action bellows depicted in the Hylestad Stave Church carvings.  Things like the Oseberg tripod show how big the forge used was as you can measure the hot spot by the twistings.

Have you looked at the warehamforge.ca site? Darrell has been involved in a lot of Experimental Archaeology especially with the L'anse aux Meadows site.

The Mastermyr find book is a must to show tools; otherwise you have to search over a large number of archaeology dig reports for examples of tools.  And remember MORE THAN ONE PERSON AT THE FORGE!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The primary reference in English on the mastermyr find is, to my knowledge:  Arwidsson, Greta and Gosta Berg, The Mastermyr Find, A Viking Age Tool Chest from Gotland, Larson Publishing Co., Lompoc, CA, 1999 (orig. copyright 1983).  It is available on Amazon for $17.95 + shipping.

As Thomas says, you are probably going to have to research iron objects in collections and museums.  The Swedish National Museum has a lot of artifacts described at their website.  Most Viking and Saxon ironwork was utilitarian rather than decorative.  Therefore, it has not been studied and published in the same way late medieval and renaissance iron work has been by art historians.

As Thomas says, go back to the original historical finds when you can.  However, there are degrees of authenticity in replicating historic artifacts.  For example, you can make a very nice replication of the Oseberg ship tripod out of mild steel using a coal or gas forge.  There are practicalities to making replicas such as obtaining bloomery wrought iron or even finding someone else to work with you in your shop.

Good luck and report back to us if you find or make anything cool.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing I have noted being involved in re-enactment is the tendency for "cookie cutter" items and way too much physical culture stuff per camp---example Every camp has an Oseberg Tripod and a Lund Spit and ... and they all look identical; when in reality there would probably be *1* for a large group of people and there would be great variability among them.

We all want to show off all our goodies; especially if we have gone to the trouble to forge them from real wrought iron in a charcoal forge.  I suffer from this myself!  I at least sized up the Lund Spit to fit modern chickens, (larger than medieval ones).  People assume it's a weapon until they see me stick a chicken on it and put it over the fire. (It's also an easy one to do in real wrought iron and so good practice towards higher levels of authenticity.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Iron in Archaeology: Early European Blacksmiths by Radomir Pleiner (Praha: Archeologický ústav AVČR, 2006) is an excellent survey of European blacksmithing in general, up through the Middle Ages. Interesting comparisons between what you're looking for, as well as Roman, Central European, etc smithing. It's available online at http://www.academia.edu/34485002.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone! Some great links to follow here.

I'm excited to have a go... albeit how "authentic" my methods and results will be will be limited.

I'm partially interested from the perspective of..... these "ancient" blacksmiths created incredible items with limited tools and materials, so maybe I can take inspiration from their methods to get things done in my own shop..... particularly given my lack of a london-pattern anvil :D

.... and partially interested just because.... its interesting!


JHCC- that book is especially good, thanks.... !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I once had to write an open-topic essay. I chose the topic "Saxon Cultural Council" and was surprised how difficult it was to find the materials I needed. There is also such a thing as a universal library http://ulib.isri.cmu.edu/ Choose a topic of Vikings or Saxons, and you will find a large number of scientific articles. Visit this resource also, there are many examples of scientific papers on different topics: https://edubirdie.com/research-paper-editing-service can be found there in the search. It helped me a lot, because there is a lot of information on the Internet, and you need a lot of free time to understand it. Hope this helped.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...