In the Iron Age, they made iron at Selleberg

26. September 2017 | Landscape & Archaeology

Two bloomeries (smelting furnaces) from ca. 200 AD were found between Marslev and Birkende.

In the Iron Age, there was, in all likelihood, a village near Selleberg Manor, which lies between Marslev and Birkende. Archaeologists from the Museums of Eastern Funen have found traces of two iron-smelting furnaces in connection with the construction of a new bicycle path.

“They always set up bloomeries a bit outside their villages, since they were rather dangerous. Before the waste product, the bloom, could be smelted away from the pure iron, the furnace had to be heated to 12-1300 degrees C (2192-2372 F). If the furnace got hotter than 1528 degrees C (2782 F), the iron would burn and then there was real danger of fire,” said Disa Simonsen from the Museums of Eastern Funen.

According to Disa Simonsen, the bloomery furnace was probably of the “Skovmark” type, which was in use from about 200 AD, These furnaces could be reused.

What you can see in the photo is the bottom of the furnace. When these furnaces were built, a hole of about half a metre (1’ 9”) was first dug, a flat-bottomed pit, with a diameter of about a metre (39”), that was then filled with clay. On top of the clay-filled pit,  they built the furnace itself, basically a chimney, which had a height of about 1 metre (39”).

The iron ore that was the raw material for the iron, had in all likelihood been dug locally. It could often be found right under the top soil layer.

Bloomeries are often found in clusters in the same area, and Disa Simonsen is keen on finding more bloomeries in the vicinity of the first two, when excavations continue after the summer holidays.

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