Iron making in “Egil’s Saga”

Chapter 30


[...] Skallagrim was a great blacksmith and worked large amounts of bog-iron [bog ore] during the winter. He had a forge built by the sea a long way off from Borg, at the place called Raufarnes, where he did not think the woods were too far away [he needed the woods for fuel to make charcoal]. But since he could not find any stone suitably hard or smooth to forge iron against — because there was nothing but pebbles there, and small sands along the shore — Skallagrim put out to sea one evening in one of his eight-oared boats, when everyone else had gone to bed, and rowed out to the Midfjord islands. There he cast his stone anchor off the prow of his boat, stepped overboard, dived and brought up a rock which he put into his boat. Then he climbed into the boat, rowed ashore, carried the rock to his forge, put it down by the door and always forged his iron on it. That rock is still there with a pile of slag beside it, and its top is marked from being hammered upon. It has been worn by waves and is different from the other rocks there; four men today could not lift it. [...]

[The translation contains a couple of inaccuracies. The English term for rauği is bog ore, not bog iron. The iron was made from bog ore in a rauğablástr which means furnace for the making of iron from bog ore, not forge. The forging came later, when Skallagrim worked the iron he got out of furnace and then hammered on top of the large stone.]

Source: Bernard Scudder, trans., "[Iron Making in] Egil's Saga" in The Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection, preface by Jane Smiley, introduction by Robert Kellogg, (New York, London, Victoria (Australia), Toronto, Auckland: The Penguin Group, 2000), 3-184. Notes: Probably by Snorri Sturluson c. 1220-1240 about events 850-1000. Snorri was a descendant of Egil. Translations first published in "The Complete Sagas of Icelanders," volumes I-V (forty-nine tales), Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, Ltd., Iceland, 1997.

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