Ancient Iron Smelting Techniques Revived at West Iceland Festival Skip to content
iron smelting Eiríksstaðir

Ancient Iron Smelting Techniques Revived at West Iceland Festival

Iron smelting, Viking crafts, and Viking tool forging were just a few of the activities guests partook in at the Járngerðarhátíð (Iron Making Festival) held in West Iceland last weekend. Hosted at Eiríksstaðir farm, the birthplace of Leifur Eiríksson, the festival brought together archaeologists, metalworkers, and Viking enthusiasts to partake in all things Viking. RÚV reported first.

The festival was organised in collaboration with US Organisation Hurstwic, which uses “the scientific method to research, study, and test Viking-related topics,” according to their website. The festival was labelled an “homage to experimental archaeology, where guests step into the world of the Vikings.” The focus of the weekend was using experimental archaeology to unlock the secrets of iron making in Viking-age Iceland.

Over the weekend, Hurstwic set up several fire-bellowing furnaces, including one made of Icelandic turf, in order to test archaeologists’ knowledge of how Iceland’s first settlers forged iron over a thousand years ago. Though much is known about Viking Age iron smelting techniques, researchers have yet to fully understand how iron was forged in Iceland using local materials.

Hurstwic’s experiments could be helpful in that process. “Icelandic archaeologists on our team […] said they plan to re-examine and re-interpret what they have excavated at early iron-making sites in Iceland, in light of what we found in our smelts this weekend,” a Facebook post from the organisation stated.

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