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An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part V: Building the Furnace

An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part V: Building the Furnace

Your tools are gathered, your clay mixed, your ore processed, and you have chosen a furnace design to follow. Now you are ready to give building the furnace a try. How well you do this will have an influence on how smooth the whole smelting operation runs. After all, you do not want to be standing in front of a leaning shaft, with ever larger cracks spreading across the furnace, wondering if the thing will make it to the end. Especially…

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An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part IV: Furnace Design

An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part IV: Furnace Design

You have a space for smelting selected, your equipment is gathered, you clay is mixed, you charcoal chopped and your ore crushed. Now you are finally ready to build the furnace. We are getting dangerously close to the actual smelting here. And that is what you came here for in the first place. Right? But first you will need to choose what sort of bloomery furnace you want to build.  There are many possibilities and examples available – both historic…

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An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part III: Raw Materials

An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part III: Raw Materials

Now that we have all the tools gathered, it is time to start dealing with the required materials. Therefore in this part of the iron smelting series, I shall devote a few words to the building materials used to construct the bloomery furnace. While I am at it, I shall also be instructing you on how to prepare the ore and charcoal for the smelt. While I am writing this post from the point of view of a bloomery smelter,…

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The End of an Era: A Year in Perspective

The End of an Era: A Year in Perspective

On the 16th of August I handed in my master thesis, titled ‘The Ironworker’s Craft’, which I submitted at University College Dublin, as the final part of the MSc in Experimental Archaeology in Material Culture. Thus ends an 18 year period of my life, which was mostly spent in various educational institutions, although those who know me can testify, that I was quite proficient at distracting myself with various ‘side projects’ during that period. Six years of this period were…

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More Smelting Experiments at University College Dublin

More Smelting Experiments at University College Dublin

It was Tuesday the 20th of June and the weather was approaching that rare state of the skin-melting Irish heatwave. (Yes, these things do exist. The Sun rarely gazes upon this green island, but when it does, it does so with a vengeance most vicious.) In order to ease ourselves into the spirit of the summer solstice, and to show the treacherous orb in the sky that we do not go down so easily, we ran another bloomery smelt. (I…

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An Ode to the Bog

An Ode to the Bog

Thus I found myself, wearing an orange hi-viz vest in the middle of a stripped bog. The sun was shining and there was a pleasant breeze. I was on my knees, crawling through the black soil, scooping up with my bare hands pieces of rust-colored, crumbly rock. It was a day out, a field-trip with friends and colleagues. They were engaged in similar activities, devoting their attention to the ground bellow them. You may wonder what all of this is…

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