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Medieval Iron in Society. Papers presented at the symposium in Norberg, May 6–10, 1985.

1985. 370 s. ill.
Jernkontorets bergshistoriska utskott. H 34.

The rise of mining and the introduction of the blast furnace inevitably
and profoundly affected the medieval economy throughout Northern Europe.

The mining district in the middle of Sweden - Bergslagen - constitutes a uniquely developed region for studying metallurgy and settlement during the period 1100-1500. One of the hundreds of sites for iron production - Lapphyttan - has been archaeologically excavated and has proved to be a complete iron manufacturing site with iron ore deposits, a roasting pit, a blast furnace with waterdriven bellows, eight finery hearths and large slagheaps. This blast furnace has been in use from the middle of the 12th century and until the mid-14th century.

The development, function and social impact of mining and metal working had manifold effects on life in certain parts of Northern Europe during the medieval period. In terms of production technology, a change took place from small-scale to more large-scale operations. Tne older technique of producing iron in rudimentary small bloomery furnaces with relatively small yields did not require any elaborate organization and was perfectly compatible with the agrarian scheme of production. The advent of mining and blast furnace technology involved completely new demands in the way of social organization and economic resources. This technology required investment capital and the excess local production required a market.

It is in these terms that we have to discuss the iron industry and the
role of the early process industry in early medieval society, because it
was this period which laid the foundations of modern society. This was
the time when the preconditions were established of the national state
with its defined frontiers, complete with a power of state represented
by the crown and with the kingdom divided up territorially for administrative purposes.