Here are some books and articles we have found useful and/or interesting, with a few notes about them. Remember as you read these-- just because someone sounds like they know what they're talking about doesn't mean they do!

Some of these are kind of hard to find, but interlibrary loan is a wonderful thing.


Busch, J.A.W. "Ironmaking by the Bloomery Process at Nornas, Sweden, in 1851". Journal of the Historic Metallurgy Group,VI (1972) pp.28-33. These guys took the prize for speed and charcoal stinginess.

Crew. Peter. "The Experimental Production of Prehistoric Bar Iron". Journal of the Historic Metallurgy Society 25:1 (1991): 21-36. This is one of the few reported experiments we've seen that includes smithing the bloom into an artifact, and doesn't fudge quantitative data.

Egleston, T., " The American Bloomery Process for making Iron Direct from the Ore". Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers,VIII (1880),pp.515- 550. Valuable contemporary account.

Gordon, Robert B. American Iron, 1607-1900. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. A thorough and well written history of iron prodution in the U.S. Lotsa cool photos.

Gordon, Robert B., and D.E. Killick. "The Metallurgy of the American Bloomery Process". Archaeomaterials,Vol.6.No.2 (1992)pp. 141-166. Description of the hearth smelting process of the Adirondacks.

Herbert, Eugenia W. Iron, Gender, and Power. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993. This book deals with African cosmology as revealed by the rituals of ironmaking. If that doesn't turn your crank, there's also lotsa cool pictures.

Howard, Barrie. Making Charcoal and Coke. Lindsay Pub., 1982. A simple, succinct pamphlet on distillation in a retort.

McNaughton, Patrick R. The Mande Blacksmiths: Knowledge, Power and Art in West Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. This doesn't deal with smelting much but you still oughta read it. Here's a culture where smiths are appropriately appreciated and feared.

Norbach, Lars ed. Early Iron Production- Archaeolgy, Technology and Experiment. Lejre, Denmark, Historical- Archaeological Center, 1997. A report on a whole series of bloomery experiments by lots of folks covering lots of questions concerning Scandinavian iron production and it's archaeology, running the gamut from pretty goofy to pretty brilliant. Arne Espelund's chapter on the "Evenstad" process is the modern source we've seen that describes the metallurgy of a bloomery process close to the way we see it.

Overman, Frederick. The Manufacture of Iron. Philadelphia: Henry C Baird, 1849. This book seems to be the product of a particularly disordered mind, but still contains tons of info.

Percy, John. Metallurgy: Iron and Steel. London: Murray, 1864. The best book I've ever read on metallurgy. Contains an especially interesting and thorough description of the Catalan bloomery process.

Schmidt, Peter ed. The Culture and Technology of African Iron Production. University Press of Florida, 1996. Besides being interesting and informative, there are also some particularly amusing examples of scholarly types picking nits and throwing snits.

Schmidt, Peter. Iron Technology in East Africa: Symbolism, Science, and Archaeology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997. An examination of East African smelting centered around several reconstructions instigated by the author.

Sim, David. Beyond the Bloom: Bloom refining and iron artifact production in the Roman world. Oxford:Archaeopress (BAR series), 1998. Sim undertook a very comprehensive effort to explore the time, materials,tools and techniques to forge bloom iron into replicas of Roman artifacts. His effort seemed to be hampered by starting with lousy blooms, but still interesting.

Tholander, Erik. Experimental Studies on Iron-making. Stockholm, The Royal Institute of Technology, 1987. This dissertation is hard to find. It's also kind of hard to read (especially on a xeroxed copy with the pages mixed up), but this guy did a thorough set of experiments. Low bullshit factor.

Tylecote, R.F.; J.N. Austin; and A.E. Wraith. "The Mechanism of the Bloomery Process in Shaft Furnaces". Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute 204(1971): 342-363. This was probably the most rigorous set of bloomery experiments reported, but really only covered a pretty narrow set of parameters- for example, they decided what they thought the best air flow rate would be, and stuck with it for all the experiments.

Wagner, Donald. Dabieshan: Traditional Chinese iron production techniques practised in southern Henan in the twentieth century. Curzon Press, 1985. This is about small scale cast iron production and refining, rather than about bloomery smelting, but fascinating.