How did medieval blacksmiths work

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It is about the material from which swords were forged in the early Middle Ages. That is exactly what Roth intends to do. He is an experienced armorer and also practices the art of sword fighting himself. Born in Braunschweig, he knows in every respect what is important in production.

This makes him the ideal partner for Ulrich Lehmann. The research assistant at LWL Archeology for Westphalia is an expert on swords from the 6th to 8th centuries that were found in Westphalia as grave goods. There are 28 of them. One of them was found in three fragments in Beckum. Already in the year 1863. For the archaeologists a particular stroke of luck, as it turns out today. In contrast to many more recent iron finds, which were heavily affected by fertilizer and other chemical inputs, the metal of the Beckum sword is extremely well preserved.

That makes the piece a special research object. During its scientific investigation it provided such extensive data that it can now be reconstructed true to the original in Stefan Roth's “soul forge”. In order to analyze the historical weapon in detail, the archaeologists decided to take an unusual step. Apart from an analysis by computer tomography, a three millimeter thick disk was removed from the historical find. The secret of the double-edged blade, a so-called spathe, was elicited by means of metallographic and chemical tests.

The researchers found that the core of the weapon was made from eight half composite rods using fire welding. The two cutting edges were forged and attached separately. The experts found out about the material that it was iron with an astonishingly high phosphorus content, which tends to reduce the breaking strength.

After initial contact with the blacksmith's shop at Königsmünster Abbey, after the LWL forging project was advertised, the choice fell on Stefan Roth. At first he worked on the production of the metal alloy in the self-built racing kiln. A challenge that took a little more time than initially planned. Now it's time to forge the blade.