Smelt­ing iron at L’Anse aux Mead­ows

Staff demon­strated iron smelt­ing to the public on July 7

Northern Pen - - Front page - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

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...

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