Smelting iron at L’Anse aux Meadows
Staff demonstrated iron smelting to the public on July 7
Visitors at L’Anse aux Meadows got to witness firsthand the long and arduous process of how the Vikings smelted iron 1,000 years ago.
On July 7, as part of Canada Historic Places Day and to mark the 40th anniversary of L’Anse aux Meadows being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park was open to the public for free.
The big attraction throughout the day was the iron smelt.
Using the technology and techniques of the Norse Vikings, staff smelted iron at the national historic site’s furnace hut.
The crew will produce nails and boat hardware with the iron they extracted, just as the Vikings did.
Interpreter Mark Pilgrim (portraying Ragnar Red Beard) led the smelting process. He had participated in many smelts before, but this was his first time as the master smelter.
The process ran from 7:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
The team had to take turns continuously pumping air into the furnace throughout the day.
For Pilgrim, the most difficult part of the smelt was extracting the iron bloom from the furnace.
As he tore down the furnace and removed the bloom with a pair of tongs, sparks flew everywhere, including on him.
While two of the crew hammered away at the bloom to consolidate the iron, two others had to splash them with water because of the heat.
“I’m leaning over the fire that’s about 1,200 degrees Celsius - Smelting is a process of extractive metallurgy.
- L’Anse aux Meadows is the first known place where Europeans settled on North America and Brennan says it is therefore also the first place where iron was forged on North America.
- This was the third smelt at the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and the second in two years.
- These smelts are the first times
and it zaps the energy out of me,” Pilgrim told The Northern Pen.
In the end, the entire process was a success. that iron has been forged at L’Anse aux Meadows since the Vikings did it 1,000 years ago.
- This smelt was also the firsttime actual Icelanders have been involved in smelting at L’Anse aux Meadows since the Vikings did it 1,000 years ago.
- This was the first smelt to be left in the hands of Mark Pilgrim and the national historic site’s staff.
- Everything used in the process was built by the staff.
Of the 29 kg of bog ore that was placed in the furnace that morning, they extracted 7.9 kg (17.4 pounds). Continued, A5
Iain Pilgrim and Ethain Arsenault hammered away at the iron bloom, while smelt lead Mark Pilgrim holds with a pair of tongs, after the smelt has been finished. Meanwhile, sparks fly from the bloom at about 1,200 degrees Celsius. The hammering was done...