Current projects

Here you will find a presentation of ongoing projects within metallurgical historical research. The list is sorted after the project’s starting year with the most recently started at the top of the list.

The Baltic region as a marketplace for iron – the Osmund Ship, a merchant vessel from the 16th century (90065/20)

The research committee The Baltic region as a marketplace for iron – The Osmund Ship, a merchant vessel from the 16th century is a collaboration between Swedish National Maritime and Transport Museums (SMTM), Jernkontoret’s Historical Metallurgy Group, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University. The project aims to investigate iron, overseas trading and shipping from several perspectives. The research is based on the Osmund ship, a unique shipwreck found in the Stockholm archipelago, dated to the 16th century and with large amounts of iron in the cargo.

Chairperson: Catarina Karlsson

See also: The Baltic region as a marketplace for iron – the Osmund Ship

The New Archives Committee (90064/20)

Within Jernkontoret's Historical Metallurgy group, there is an archive group, the New Archives Committee, which works to preserve the steel industry's archives for the future and use them for research and other purposes. The committee aims to build network for archivists in the industry and other interested persons. The committee also arranges seminars and other activities.

Chairperson: Anders Nordebring

See also: The New Archives Committee

Sustainability and environmental impact in a historical perspective – metal production, mineral extraction and the steel industry (90063/20)

This committee has been formed within the framework of the pilot study "Sustainability and environmental impact in a historical perspective". Committee members come from Jernkontoret, Luleå University of Technology, Karlstad University, Stockholm University, Uppsala University and National Historical Museums.

Recent years have seen a large part of Jernkontoret’s work focus on the environmental impact of industrial processes. In a historical perspective questions of sustainability and social value have also been very important; discussion though has taken place using other concepts than today’s and measures implemented with other methods.

The committee is investigating how future research projects could be formulated around the question of how sustainability and environmental impact have been handled historically where the history of metallurgy and mining is concerned. The intention is to build up knowledge within different disciplines such as archaeology, history, the history of technology, ecology, vegetation history, metallurgy etc. Today there are new technologies, new methods and moreover new scope for cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Chairperson: Dag Avango, Luleå University of Technology

Restructuring of Sweden’s steel industry during the 21st century (90062/19)

The Swedish steel crisis of the 1970’s – its causes, course and results – has been well studied by research. However, the Swedish steel industry, subsequently as it had previously, has had to operate in the context of hard international competition and continues to be subject to continuous pressure for change. Every day there take place adjustments and improvements following signals from the market. This far-reaching and important transformation process that has taken place in recent decades has, until now, not been the subject of any comprehensive and synoptic study.

The purpose of this research committee is to document and analyse the continued structural conversion of the Swedish steel industry over the last 25 years. The consequences for the community and for society as a whole of this restructuring are indeed wide-ranging. Ownership responsibility has, in many cases, been reshaped from being locally focused, with an obligation towards the locality of the steel plant, its future and the inhabitants, to a more business-oriented responsibility towards owners – often foreign – with high demands being made on the return on capital.

One part of the planned project will utilise a database based on registration data compiled by SCB (Statistics Sweden) to describe and analyse how the sector’s employees have developed in terms of qualifications and educational level. Besides studies of annual reports and statistics, the project group intends to engage decision-makers within the respective companies in this project.

Chairperson: Clas Ericson

The development of powder metallurgy in Sweden – a historical look back (90061/18)

For a very long time The Historical Metallurgy Group has wanted a documentation of the development of powder metallurgy in Sweden to come about. During 2018 Olle Grinder started the project. The aim is to document an important part of the Swedish steel industry.

The final product of the project is planned to be a printed publication in English of 300-400 pages. The book should illuminate the development of powder metallurgy in Sweden, from the earliest attempts to today's high-tech industry. The presentation shall include the industrial operations as well as R&D at research institutes, universities and colleges and Jernkontoret's contribution to the development through the Technical area 80.

The intention is to sell and distribute the book via Jernkontoret as valuable information material in Sweden and abroad as well as for Swedish metallurgical companies and other stakeholders. Within the project about 20 people work with the documentation of powder metallurgy. The steering group for documentation of technological change within the industry from 1850 until the present (9041/90) works as a reference group.

Chairperson: Jan Tengzelius

Documentation of cold-rolling (90058/16)

Processing and completion of previously collected documentation of cold-rolling with the aim of publishing a report in the Jernkontoret’s historical metallurgy publication series, serie H, is in progress.

Chairperson: Bengt Orrling

Reinhold Rücker Angerstein’s travel diaries 1749–1755 set to appear in print (90056/15)

Reinhold Rücker Angerstein (1718–1760) worked as an auditor for the Board of Mines in Sweden and travelled all across Europe to study developments in mining science and metallurgy. These journeys he undertook on behalf of the Board of Mines (Bergskollegium) and the Society of Ironmasters (Jernkontoret). Travel indeed was a vital way of acquiring new knowledge and information of importance for mining and the working of iron and steel.

In the spirit of the 18th century Enlightenment, Reinhold Angerstein was interested in everything that could improve Sweden’s industries and its exports; this meant not only the iron and steel industry but agriculture and shipping. In his richly illustrated travel accounts he also describes his day-to-day life with visits to the theatre, meetings with different persons and the sites of interest he visited. This makes them valuable documents also from the viewpoint of cultural history.

The year 2018 marked 300 years from the birth of Reinhold Angerstein. Due to that, a selection of his diary entries and technical reports are planned, set in their historical context of the Age of Enlightenment and 18th century European trade.

Chairperson:  Yngve Axelsson, Jernkontoret

Swedish iron and the Thirty Years War (90057/15)

The subject for the three-year project is the iron industry and the Thirty Years’ War. Regional studies of smelting furnaces in Södermanland are related to the iron production of the period and the needs of an industry so vital for waging wars. The smelting furnaces at Öllösa Bruk that were shut down in 1649 and at Grishyttan have been selected for the fieldwork.

The development of the ironworks in Swedish Uppland and Finland is used as a comparison. How the international effects of the Thirty Years’ War on trade and iron production also affected the Swedish iron industry in Södermanland is given due weight in this study. The project has an international reference group that studies the effects of the Thirty Years’ War on later historical periods.

Chairperson: Georg Haggrén

Iron and the formation of the kingdom 1150-1350 (90053/07)

The launch of publication no. 48 of Jernkontoret’s historical metallurgy publication series  – Järnet och Sveriges medeltida modernisering (Iron and Sweden’s modernisation in the Middle Ages) – took place on 18 February 2015.

The book constitutes the final report of phase two of this multidisciplinary project. Amongst the contributors are historians, economic historians, historians of technology, vegetation historians and archaeologists. The project leader has been Bengt Berglund, professor within the history of technology and science at Chalmers University. A reference group has also been linked to the project.

The research project’s conclusion is that mining and metallurgy in Sweden emerged as a force already during the late 10th century. That the blast furnace is a Swedish innovation, reliably attested from the 12th century, is backed up by vegetation and pollen analyses for example.

The concept of modernisation and far-reaching social change in relation to mining and metallurgy is illuminated in the report. Analyses based on a new slag database over different bloomery furnace sites show in which regions of Sweden a surplus of iron was produced.

The iron consumption in medieval agriculture has been investigated and likewise the presence of iron in two towns: Lödöse in Sweden and Bergen in Norway.

Osmund iron is considered from a Swedish and international perspective. In the section on process metallurgy, resources and social organisation the focus is on the areas of Möre in Kalmar County and Norberg in Bergslagen.

Results from the first phase of the project were published at the end of 2010 in the Sancte Örjens Gille publication ‘Med Hammare och Fackla’ XLI, 2010. Phase one started in 2007 and phase two in 2011.

The excavations of Hyttehamn formed the basis for the project’s emergence in 2005. Results were recorded in the report serie H no. 79, The Hyttehamn project 2005-2008. Studies of Hyttehamn and the surrounding area during the years 2005–2008. Archaeological studies, inventory, analyses and historical sources. The Swedish National Heritage Board (RAÄ) 176 in Undenäs parish, Karlsborg municipality, Västergötland.

The project has been financed through external funding from the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities; the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation; the Torsten Söderberg Foundation; Sancte Örjens Gille; Minpro-stiftelsen and Allan Wetterholms Stiftelse and Prytziska fonden nr 1.

Related publications: Catarina Karlsson’s thesis completed at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Förlorat järn – det medeltida jordbrukets behov och förbrukning av järn och stål, serie H no. 49 in Jernkontoret’s historical metallurgy publication series. Another report in serie H on Osmund iron by Anders Wallander was published in 2018, Osmundjärn. Inventeringar och analyser av osmundar från arkeologiska undersökningar i Sverige.

A conference, Iron and society before 1350, was held on Octobre 20-21, 2016. Project results were presented, as well as questions concerning the Viking Age-early Middle Ages for future research. The role of the iron production in the economic and social changes was the topic for lecturers from six nations. 

A final project on the issues raised within the project has been started with the aim of investigating the role of iron during the time period preceding the project's framework. The project was reported in English and it includes a summary of the previous project's research. In the autumn of 2020, the book Iron and the transformation of society. Reflexion of Viking Age metallurgy was published.

Chairperson: Bengt Berglund, Chalmers University of Technology, History of Technology
Chairperson for the final project: Gert Magnusson, Stockholm

Attempts to produce pig iron at Nya Lapphyttan (90051/02)

The project has supported ‘Föreningen Järnet’ (Iron Association) at Lapphyttan and the municipality of Norberg in the efforts to produce liquid pig iron in the recreated blast furnace at Nya Lapphyttan. This is a full-scale reconstruction based on the remains (discovered in the 1970’s) of a complete medieval iron production site at Lapphyttan outside Norberg and dated to the 12th century.

This group mainly consists of metallurgists. Thirteen experimental trials have been carried out since 1994. The trial 2–11 July 2010, the goal of producing liquid pig iron was achieved for the first time. In July 2015 both liquid iron and a well-produced slag were produced.

A report about the trials was published in 2014, serie H no. 80 Nya Lapphyttan – bergsmannakunskap rekonstruerad. Work is in progress to develop an extended research plan. Nya Lapphyttan is included in the Bergslagen medieval museum.

Chairperson: Gert Magnusson, Stockholm

See also: About "Nya Lapphyttan" (

Non-ferrous metals, ore mining and metallurgy (90048/95)

The project’s goal is to develop education and research activities at the interface of archaeology/history and metallurgy and also to support inventory and documentation activities. An important task is also to initiate research concerning non-ferrous metals. Committee members come mainly from universities and the National Heritage Board. Subsidiary projects are mainly linked to the theses of PhD students.

Course material and syllabus have been produced for an undergraduate course for 15 ECTS, arranged at Stockholm University: Människor och metaller. Utvinning, användning och betydelse under förhistorisk tid till och med medeltid (People and metals. Extraction, utilisation and significance from the prehistoric to the medieval period).

The committee’s research spans a very long period of time, from prehistory to the contemporary era. The scope of the research not only considers the production of non-ferrous metals but also the subsequent manufacture of the metals as well as the social and economic consequences of such manufacture. External funding has been provided for the project.

Chairperson: Dag Noréus, Stockholm University, Inorganic Chemistry.

See also: Non-Ferrous Metals Committee

Atlas of Sweden’s mining and metallurgical district (90045/93)

The overall objective of the project is to publish – in text and maps – the archaeological material concerning the history of mining and metallurgy within those ‘black country’ districts in Sweden that have a medieval origin. By also linking the remains to cartographic records, historical information and remaining buildings in the environment the intention is that the reports shall serve both as a starting point for more detailed research and as the basis for work in cultural environment protection. The reports may also serve as a guide to historical metallurgy environments both for the researcher and local history enthusiasts. This work is largely based on the remains recorded in the National Heritage Board’s register of ancient monuments in the Fornsök database and is classified into 23 different ‘black country’ districts. Twenty-two of these reports are so far published (in Decembery 2017), see Publications.

This project is run as a collaborative project between Jernkontoret and those involved with cultural heritage protection in the counties concerned. 

Chairperson: Gert Magnusson, Stockholm

Steering group for documentation of technological change within the industry from 1850 until the present (90041/90)

The group shall prepare and carry out work concerning the documentation of technological changes within the above period. The work is carried on or planned within the areas of cold forming processes, powder metallurgy, special steel products and their marketing (9044/92). The subject areas of metallurgy, forging, hot forming, laboratories as well as energy and environment are all documented and books/reports are published, see Publications. The work is conducted mainly by retired mining engineers/engineers.

Chairperson: Ulf Melin