the Norse Encampment
Living History for the Viking Age

The 'Norse Encampment' is the collective name given to a series of living history programs, which illustrate daily life in the Viking Age. Historic interpreters, employing replica objects, bring the past to life through typical activities of the Norse, and portraying historic styled characters. Throughout the series exceptional care was taken to ensure everything involved in a presentation was reflective of current archaeological research. One cornerstone of all the presentations was reference to the Vinland voyages by the Norse, circa 1000 AD.

Encampment INDEX

L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC

Artifacts and Replicas

A Teachers Guide


Interpreting the Viking Age

Experimental Iron Smelting

Dark Ages Re-creation Company

from the Wareham Forge


Iron Smelting

In this section...


Full Documentation

How did the Norse during the Viking Age make iron blooms from bog ore? Experimental Archaeology can give insight into the techniques used in Northern Europe to operate direct reduction iron smelting furnaces.

This is the separate section documenting the experiments conducted since 2001, including research, field reports, photographs & video.

An overview of experimental iron smelts, 2001 - 2005.

Friends of the Medieval Studies Society of the Royal Ontario Museum
1st Annual Symposium
March 2006.

" This paper outlines the experiments ... undertaken to date, the results and lessons learned, and discusses some insights that may be of interest to the larger community of researchers."

  Continuing Adventures in Early Iron Production An overview of experimental iron smelts, to 2008.

This is a revised version of the original paper, prepared for potential publication in December 2008. It covers the results from 39 experiments (the original version only 13), yet at the same time was reduced in length about 50%!
Converting Archaeological Evidence to Practical Method.

Presented at 'Forward Into the Past', Wilfred Laurier University, April, 2010

The full text of the revised version of this formal paper (V3 - June 2010) available as a PDF.
“But if you don't get any IRON...”

Towards an effective method for small iron smelting furnaces.

" This essay will concentrate on describing a proven working system, based on Migration Era models, which has repeatedly produced historic type iron blooms. "

An article prepared for the journal EuroREA, scheduled for publication in the Spring 2011 issue.

How do the blooms being produced in current experimental smelts compare with the artifact samples?
Originally published on the blog 'Hammered Out Bits' this short article has a more formal structure (footnotes and references).
Based on the remains at Hals

Prepared with the assistance of Kevin Smith & Neil Peterson
This is an 'in house' document outlining the archaeology and thought behind the Icelandic / Sod Smelter series started in 2007

The Econo Norse small test smelter takes its rough size and general operating characteristics from a blend of Viking Age archaeology and modern practical experience. It has simple construction and is made of easy to gather materials. The rough form was developed in Fall of 2004 by members of the Dark Ages Re-Creation Company, with further refinements made in February of 2005 with guidance from Sauder / Williams / McCarthy.

There are a growing number of short videos available which document primarily two aspects of the ongoing work related to the Norse Encampment program:
The series listed here are segments documenting individual experimental iron smelting experiments undertaken by members of the Dark Ages Re-creation Company.

Readers are also referred to:
This ongoing blog collection contains many shorter 'articles in progress' discussing aspects of both iron smelting and metalworking from the Viking Age, as well as topics of interest to historic re-enactors in general. A separate index is also available (updated quarterly).

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Educational Materials available from the Wareham Forge

FORGING the Viking Age

ISBN 978-0-9783284-2-9

Forge Viking Age
GO ON - for details

A special combination of practical work and historical background that will be of interest to historic blacksmiths and those involved in Early Medieval living history.

This 2 1/2 hour program documents the creation of a number of the forged metal objects created for the 1997 'Viking Encampment' Program at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC for Parks Canada. The program contains commentary on objects from the Viking Age, details on how the pieces were produced and forging sequences.

DVD format

each program comes packaged in a plastic case

Check this segment : 'Cauldron Hanger Elements'

iron smelting
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Iron Smelting

ISBN 978-0-9783284-3-6

Of interest to working blacksmiths, the student of history or those attempting to re-create the Early Medieval period.

Experimental IRON SMELTING in the Viking Age - is a multi-platform CD-ROM documenting ongoing experiments re-creating both SMELTING and FORGING of the Norse metalsmiths. The greatly expanded version 2 now contains almost 2000 images, working plans, experiment notes and articles.

Multi-Platform CD-ROM format
comes packaged in a jewel case
Explore Denmark
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 Introduction to Smelting Iron

Normal Date : First Weekend in JUNE
(Friday evening - all day Saturday *)

This course dependent on registrations (requires full class of 4 students due to materials cost)

This 14 hour session will involve the student in the construction and operation of the 'Econo Norse' small scale iron smelter. A Friday evening lecture will cover the theoretical and historical background of smelting iron: ores, furnaces, process, equipment as well as construction of the furnace. * A LONG day Saturday will start with the  preparation of charcoal and ore, pre-heating the furnace. The actual process of the smelt takes roughly 6 hours. After this, the resulting iron bloom will be extracted from the furnace, and given a primary consolidation. 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. Course fee of $400 (+HST) includes coffee and materials.

For more details on this special program - go to Smelting Course.

Darrell Markewitz
Interpretive Program Designer

The Wareham Forge
The Hamlet of Wareham, R.R. #2
Proton Station, Ontario
(519) 923-9219 //

Who is Darrell Markewitz?

Content © Darrell Markewitz
Other images credited to the individual sources, who retain full copyright