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I Forge Iron

Medieval metallurgy and blacksmiths of the past

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Hello all,

I'm looking for pieces of literature, imagery, art or anything that shows blacksmiths of the medieval and ancient worlds, particularly about their forging practices and just any general information anyone may have.

Anything is appreciated.

- Novak

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Wow; just wow.  What part of the medieval period?

I think the farthest I go back would be the Shire book on "Egyptian Metalworking and Tools", then I'd jump to the Berlin Foundry  Cup for depictions of ancient Greek metalworking. Most of the roman stuff I have is widely spread though a lot of works.

"The Mastermyr Chest"  is a GREAT resource on Viking era metalworking tools and has a book dedicated to it.

The Hylestad Stave Church carvings has depictions of Gram being forged.

"Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel", Gies & Gies, has a number of pictures of medieval smithing in it. (Easy, cheap to find and understand too!)

A bit on ferrous metal working in "Divers Arts" Theophilus, circa 1120 CE

And of course the MASSIVELY illustrated "De Re Metallica", Agricola, mid 1500's on the mining and smelting of metals. Predated by Biringuccio's De La Pirotechnia of 1540 but without as many pictures. (Both offered in English translation through Dover.)

"Sources for the History of the Science of Steel"  has some interesting renaissance information on quenchants.

Can you narrow down exactly what you are looking for?  (Note I will be offline over the weekend.)

Now for modern books on earlier metallurgy:  "The Sword in Anglo Saxon England"---note that Anstee's work in the appendix has been superseded!  "The Celtic Sword" Radomir Pleiner, "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" best current research on the metallurgy of armour with the companion of "The Sword and the Crucible" "The Royal Armoury at Greenwich 1515-1649: A History of Its Technology"  (Note Amazon has a US$600 copy of this; or abebooks.com has a US$30 copy...)

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Those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head; lots more on the shelf in my study; but you start getting into books in foreign languages or books bought for *1* picture of an item from a certain place and time...

Not to mention R.F.Tylecote's books: Metallurgy in Archaeology, History of Metallurgy, Early History of Metallurgy in Europe, etc

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Be wary of older books that may have very sketchy documentation and more 'what the author believes was done'.  ("The Armourer and His Craft"  has some real whoppers in it!)   Journal publications on various digs are great information on what has been found; interpretation can be flawed, as can "experimental archeology" if the people don't have enough background.  

I remember disputing when coal stated being used by blacksmiths with a fellow who had found a "rent record" that said "3 wagonloads of coal" was part of the rent.  Unfortunately they didn't realize that coal meant charcoal at that period.  I don't read medieval latin and so I know a lot of what I'm reading is in translation and how iffy translation can be!

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