Hurstwic logo

Firing Up Ancient Secrets

A search for the secrets of iron making in Viking-age Iceland
a public 3-day iron smelting festival at Eiríksstađir in Iceland on the weekend of 31 August 2019

compact the iron bloom

Our goal:

Our organization, Hurstwic, will unlock the secrets of iron making in Viking-age Iceland, bringing together the brightest minds in Iceland and in North America. Together, in a public iron-making festival, we will exchange ideas and solve the mystery of why Viking-age iron-making differed between Iceland and the Viking homelands and settlements. The event will be an homage to the adventure and science of experimental archaeology.

pull out the iron bloom

examining Viking weapons

Who we are:

For the past twenty years, Hurstwic has been using the scientific method to research, study, and test Viking-related topics, eager to jump into the unknown with no preconceived notions about what we will find. This approach has earned us a world-wide reputation for our innovative investigations and findings, both among academics, and enthusiasts.

Swimming in mail

drawing out iron

Why Viking iron?

One reason Vikings dominated Europe for 3 centuries was the excellence of their iron and steel used for tools, weapons, and trade. Even their myths and legends revolve around their iron-working prowess. We will be making the first Viking-age iron in Iceland in centuries. We will open doors that have been sealed for 1000 years, doing our smelting in the district where iron making took place in the Viking age. All of this will happen at the home of Eirík the Red: saga hero, explorer, and settler.

add charcoal to furnace

add charcoal

Our plan:

We will put on a spectacle: a 3-day iron-making event in Iceland with 3 fire-bellowing furnaces running each day. But more than just entertainment and education, it is live, in-your-face science with serious intent. Crowds will closely view the iron-making process and can participate hands-on in the iron-making. It will be an event of vast scope, for the general public and specialists alike: an adventuresome festival of experimental archaeology where together, we and our guests examine ideas about Viking-age lore by actually testing the processes from many different angles to see if they work. We will hold public demonstrations during the day and lectures during the evening by our elite team of experts.

presentation at Tjarnarbio

Our track record:

Hurstwic is known worldwide and is esteemed, both by the general community and by academics, for our impressive accomplishments and our bizarre yet deep and thoughtful research. We are not re-enactors, but scientists who reverse engineer the lost secrets of the Viking past. Our crazed research often “myth-busts” the stories in the ancient sagas, such as swimming in chainmail, or repairing a bow string with human hair, or testing fantastic fighting moves, or building a Viking turf house.

William and Gudni

We have even discussed the project with the president of Iceland, Guđni Th. Jóhannessson, and we have assembled an elite team of experts, with the best people from Iceland and from North America.

Hurstwic turf house on Drangey

team of experts

Our elite team of experts:

Our experts have knowledge and experience in many related fields, allowing us to look at iron-making from angles that have never before been considered. From Iceland: archaeologists who have, or who are now excavating major iron-making sites in Viking-age Iceland; geologists and materials experts with knowledge of using high temperature Icelandic materials for fire work; forestry experts with knowledge and experience in making charcoal; society and folklore experts with deep understanding of the importance of iron-making to early Icelandic society; and other experts. From North America: smiths and smelters who have successfully made iron in Viking-age furnaces, and then forged weapons and tools from the iron; Viking weapons experts; and many more. With our elite team, there can be no dark corners where the iron-making secrets can hide from our experts. Their knowledge and experience will shine a light in every corner.

Eiríksstađir í Haukadal

What we’ve done so far:

We have secured the pinnacle of Viking locations: Eiríksstađir í Haukadal, perhaps the most exalted site of Viking-age experimental archaeology. Here, this method was used to reconstruct the house of Eirik the Red adjacent to the ruins of his historic house, and the birthplace of his son Leif who visited Vínland in North America. It’s a perfect location to reconnect experts from Iceland and from Vínland to again use experimental archaeology. We have set a tentative date: the weekend of August 31. Our arrangements in Iceland are essentially complete: tools, materials, all consumables are accounted for. Skógrćktin has donated 1 tonne of charcoal to fuel our furnaces. We have even been honored to be offered the use of ancient iron ore processed by Vikings and recently excavated in a historical iron-making site.

iron bloom

opening the furnace

More information:

As they become available, we will be posting additional details here: lecture schedules; demonstration schedules; information about lodging and travel services in the area; and more.

Please feel free to contact us at any time for additional information.

Contact for North America

William Short, manager
Hurstwic, LLC
P.O. Box 5
Southborough, MA 01772

telephone: +1 508 709 5544

Contact for Iceland and Europe

Reynir Alfređ Óskarson
Hurstwic’s Icelandic representative

telephone: +354 846 9079


Eiriksstadir logo Skograektin logo

Hurstwic® Viking
Combat Training
Viking-age History
Training Shop

©2019 William R. Short
Contact us at Hurstwic, LLC