Blacksmithing and the Forge
Blacksmithing played a very important role in the early Middle Ages, with numerous metalworking areas having been found in settlements. Supporting evidence has also been found in male burials, where forging tools have been used as grave goods.
Our forge is a reconstruction based on finding from the settlement of Warendorf, Münsterland, 750 AD. This settlement is considered a very striking example of metalworking in early medieval villages.
The building is constructed so that it is half open, which has more advantages that can be seen at first glance. It is half open so the blacksmith can work in daylight, and the hearth is situated in the shadows which allows the blacksmith to better determine the temperature of the fire and thus the iron. The charcoal fire is protected against weather conditions and it is easier to work with when the smoke can escape easily.
For the processing of iron it is important to achieve a temperature of approximately 1250°C. The blacksmith fans the charcoal fire with double bellows to ensure there is an adequate supply of oxygen administered as quickly as possible to create a bed of embers at the desired temperature. Once this is ready the iron is placed in the embers and the longer it remains there to reach the forging temperature the more carbon particles it picks up from the charcoal.
Iron with a higher carbon content is harder than iron with a lower content, and is therefore used for a number of things such as the manufacture of weapons, for example swords. Iron with a lower carbon content is less brittle and so is better suited for the production of everyday items.
The anvil on which the iron is forged is small, narrow, and high molded, and mounted on a heavy wooden block. For larger items the blacksmith could also use a large smooth stone as a base.