The furnace fired up a couple of weeks back to test our upcoming Iron Smelting workshops, run by Emma, one of our interpreters and experimental archaeologist. The clay furnace became a container for the iron ore, charcoal and super hot fire. After hours of feeding the furnace and working the bellows a brand new bloom of iron was born.
Three members of the public (all good friends of the Crannog Centre) came along to learn, none of them having done iron smelting before. They began with a look at our museum and the Iron Age collections including bits from 2,500 year old metalworking, this gave us a grounding in archaeology for the ancient craft of metallurgy. We then popped into our re-constructed Crannog to have a look at all how Crannog folks would have lived and worked.
The fire in the furnace had been lit and we began the fiery process, including explanations of how it all works and some fun decorating of the furnace. It’s a real team effort and it’s lovely to see participants find a rhythm and flow with the smelting to get everything done. After a dramatic and perfect ‘tapping’ of slag (the waste product from metal working) and a bit more bellowing, the iron was pulled out of the furnace whilst bright hot and hammered solid. It was a textbook iron smelt, a great team and a fun day to really take us back to the Iron Age by delving into the iconic technology that gave the Iron Age it’s name. All that work creates an appetite and we were kept wonderfully fed from the Iron Age kitchen with snacks, tea and an authentic lunch of flatbread, stew and cheese.
Many thanks to Ian, Jordan and Hamish for coming along, giving feedback and working to create such a good piece of iron. We hope you enjoyed the experience and also your info booklets!
If you’re interested, take a look at our workshops Here! All the details and dates are there. We’d love to see you and a spend a day of crafting with you beside our loch and Crannog!
Here’s a few words from each participant:
“I thoroughly enjoyed our day smelting Iron at the Scottish Crannog Center. It was a real trip through time, learning to smelt iron bloom from ore. Working our way through the process was transformative, with a relaxed atmosphere throughout and great food provided which added to the day. The hard work was well worth it for the final result, as well as getting a good workout!”
“What an amazing course and finishing with a real sense of achievement. It was a pleasure to attend this day course with staff that are highly experienced in iron smelting. It was hard work but it was worth it see the iron coming out of the furnace at the end of the day and learn so much.”
“I had an unforgettable experience taking part in the iron smelting course run by Emma at the Scottish Crannog Centre. Emma led a brilliant day course and provided some amazing insights into traditional metalworking and life in iron age Scotland.
Great setting and lovely people, would highly recommend to anyone interested in archaeology, traditional skills or craft!”