ABSTRACT : A Training Course in Iron Smelting, using a small scale bloomery furnace. Artisan Blacksmith Darrell Markewitz offers a regular series of weekend long programs in a number of aspects of traditional Blacksmithing. Special courses include : layered steels (pattern welding), bladesmithing / knife making, bronze casting, iron smelting. Programs held at the Wareham Forge in Ontario Canada, with remote teaching offered at other facilities.
Learn the Art of the

Introduction to Smelting Iron

Potentially this program will be offered in 2021
Expect a Mid Summer to Early Fall date

Your instructor, Darrell Markewitz, is well known as a specialist in the Viking Age. He consulted on the Smithsonian's 'Vikings - North Atlantic Saga' and the Newfoundland Museum's 'Full Circle - First Contact'. He designed and produced the exhibit 'World of the Norse' for the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the 'Norse Encampment' living history program for Parks Canada. In 2001, he was part of a special research team at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC working on presenting Viking Age iron smelting at the site. Since then he has lead a series of experimental iron smelts, attempting to discover lost techniques as they might have been used by the Norse undertaken by the Dark Ages Re-creation Company. He is one of the core group of demonstrators and team leaders behind the highly successful 'Early Iron Symposium' - an annual event held at the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown NY. He continues to research, experiment into specifically 'Pre-Medieval' bloomery furnaces. As well as providing academic papers, he has worked on projects in Canada, the USA, the UK and Europe.

Introduction to Smelting Iron is an intensive hands on program, roughly 18 hours in duration. Students will prepare materials, build a smelter, then fire it to produce a workable iron bloom. A bloom weighing roughly 3 - 5 kg is expected from use of about 30 kg of ore.

This program does not require any previous metalworking experience.

Programs are open to any physically able people, from young adults onwards. (Aged 16 an up - see a special note : Teens as Students). Any students with "learning \ physical disabilities" need to refer to the detail section on Course Requirements. English is the language of instruction. Sorry - the Wareham Forge is not really wheel chair accessible.
This program limited to THREE students only
A total of TWO bookings required to proceed.

Short Shaft set up
A number of video segments showing past smelts can be found on Darrell's YouTube channel
Smelter Plan
Smelter Constructed

Saturday, the program starts with a background lecture covering the historical development and the practical elements of the small direct process bloomery furnace. The balance of the day will be spent constructing the 'Norse short shaft' clay smelter itself. The smelt normally requires about 80 - 100 KG of charcoal to be smashed to size and sorted. Ore will be prepared, with various potential types being evaluated. At least some rock based ore will be roasted and crushed for the experience. Other furnace types will be examined (as part of ongoing experiments at Wareham). The working site will be prepared for the smelt the following day.


Adding Ore

Adding Charcoal

slag tapping

'Econo-Norse' Furnace
A LONG day Sunday will start at 9 AM with the pre-heating the furnace. Any more charcoal required will be prepared. The initial charge of charcoal is scheduled for roughly 11 am. The actual process of the smelt takes roughly 6 - 7 more hours. Participants will learn the effective managing of an operating smelter, including adding fuel and ore, controlling air flow, and taping slags. Valuable experience will be gained in how to interpret the sounds of a correctly operating furnace. extraction
Extracting Bloom
Initial Compaction
bloom cutting
Cutting the Bloom
After this, the resulting iron bloom will be extracted from the furnace - while the mass is still white hot!. It then is given a primary consolidation, compacting the surface using sledge hammers. The iron produced will be cut to sections and shared between the participants.

This program does not require any previous metalworking experience, and is of interest to students of history as well as blacksmiths.
finished bloom


COVID-19 Policy

Fees: 'Iron Smelting' - $500 + HST
The course fee includes a handout on disk - and a portion of the bloom created. Students should bring a simple lunches - and 'hand meal' dinner Sunday (something that can be grabbed while managing the smelt!). There will be a handout provided with and overview of technique, equipment and material sources. All required safety equipment will be provided. Students are recommended to wear old clothes, which must be all natural fabrics (cotton ideal) and work boots. A long sleeved shirt and cap is recommended.

the Wareham Forge

The Hamlet of Wareham, R.R. #2 Proton Station, Ontario

(519) 923-9219 // E-mail

Interested in adding the drama of an Iron Smelting Demonstration to YOUR Special Event
or Educational Program?

Darrell has been a featured demonstrator at a number of past events, including :
2003 / 2004 / 2005 - Early Iron Symposiums
2005 - CANIRON V (Annapolis Royal NS)
2008 - Quad State Roundup (Troy OH)

Check for details on the 'Archaeology & Experiment - Iron Smelting' Program

For availablity and rates, please contact me.

Return to Blacksmithing Courses information
(Short Cut back to the site index / map.)

Additional photos by Krysta Ryzewski and Neil Peterson (used with permission)
All text & images Darrell Markewitz - the Wareham Forge