Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dutch Iron Production in the Middle Ages

This is a great video available on YouTube, featuring long time experimenter, skilled blacksmith and artist Thijs van de Manakker.

The film runs roughly 25 minutes (!) with the historic framework set at c 900 AD.

Although the explanations are a bit simplistic, the activities shown are complete. Paying attention to the entire sequence will give you a lot of insight on furnace construction especially.

Thijs pioneered the use of a twin tuyere system, using two drum bellows. The filmed sequences can give a good estimation of air volumes. One nice addition is the second step, showing the specialized forge set up he uses for the bloom to bar phase.

As a fellow iron maker, I would have liked to have heard some details on ore quantities, addition rates, and yields. But honestly, this kind of technical information is not the intention of the filming

There are a lot of background sequences shot at the Bergherbos Montferland Medieval Heritage site in the Netherlands. The site - and the people there - look just wonderful. (Only a few small inconsistencies caught my eye.)
One thing that did concern me was the complete lack of any safety glasses being used. (Although is is certainly historically accurate, it is just plain not very smart around an iron furnace!)

(I was having trouble accessing the direct 'plug and play' link off YouTube. Hopefully one of these two links will take you direct to the full video...)



The film shows some excellent re-creation work by Thijs. It will certainly be of interest to those involved in living history for the Early Medieval / Viking Age period. Most especially worth the viewing for any considering / working towards historic type bloomery iron smelting furnaces.

(thanks to Vandy for sending the link)

1 comment:

David Robertson said...

Very nice video! The main things I caught out of perios were the cooking posts and utensils but certainly not in your face. Still a hard way of getting enough iron to make a few tools. The bag bellows actually looked fairly efficient. The people working them did not seem to have to strain very much.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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