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Firing Up Ancient Secrets

Uncovering the lost secrets of the Viking age in the nexus of experimental archaeology.
You will never be more immersed in the world of the Vikings than you will be here.

Our festival for the year 2019 is finished. It was a huge success: we unlocked the secret, and for the first time in centuries, made iron in Iceland as it was done in the Viking age. Here is a slide show that gives a glimpse of the adventure, and you can watch a segment on the festival that aired on "Landinn," an Icelandic television show. Please watch for updates about upcoming iron smelting events on our home page or on our Facebook page.

Friday August 30, 2019 through Sunday September 1, 2019 at Eiríksstađir in Iceland

11:00AM to 5:00PM at Eiríksstađir

  • Iron Smelting
  • Scientific testing of combatives
  • Viking food tasting and making
  • Viking crafts making
  • Forging Viking tools
  • The latest Viking fashion - try it on.
  • Experience going through a real Viking house
  • Test for yourself how comfortable the Viking beds were
  • Everyday Viking tool usage
  • Show-and-tell on various Viking themes
  • Mini-lectures from world-renowned experts during the day
  • Settlement and Viking-age animals will be there to greet and meet guests
  • Viking themed food and beverages will be available on site.
  • Take your best Instagram picture…
    #iceironsecrets #jarngerdarhatid #Eiriksstadir #Hurstwic
  • More and varied events will be introduced steadily.
  • Events will be announced by the sounding of a horn on site.

5:30PM to 7:30PM at Árblik community house

  • Friday and Saturday: Three expert lectures each evening on themes related to experimental archaeology
  • Sunday: Roundtable discussion with experts on experimental archaeology

Admission: 1200Íkr for adults; children 12 and under free.

compact the iron bloom

Our goal:

Eiríksstađir and Hurstwic announce a festival in the fall, a homage to experimental archaeology, where guests step into the world of the Vikings and experience the thrill of this adventuresome place with their own hands and eyes while testing and learning about this exciting world.

The focus of the festival will be to use experimental archaeology to unlock the secrets of iron making in Viking-age Iceland, a mystery that has been closed shut for centuries, bringing together the brightest minds in Iceland and in North America to rediscover the method used by early Icelanders to make iron. Guests will not only observe the ancient iron making process and its fire-breathing furnaces, but they are invited to participate in the process.

In addition to iron-making, a wide range of other aspects of the Viking world will be available for our guests to discover, guided by experts in the fields of: crafts; folklore; magic; weapons; archaeology; and much more.

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.

Eiríksstađir, the birthplace of the known Icelandic explorer Leif Eiriksson, is a place where you can see a Viking longhouse, made by the methods of experimental archaeology. A place where skilled builders, good architects and archaeologists worked together in creating the perfect setting for storytelling of Iceland’s past. Eiriksstadir is open for the public, for people to touch and feel the spirit of the Viking era.

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 festival dedicated to experimental archaeology with a focus on iron-making, firing up 3 fire-bellowing furnaces each day running different experiments. But more than just entertainment and education, it is live, in-your-face science with serious intent.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, including the smith who runs the smelting program at the sole historical Viking site in North America; 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 the 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

Contact us at Hurstwic.

Contact for Iceland and Europe

Reynir Alfređ Óskarson
Hurstwic’s Icelandic representative

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