Significance of Viking Age Blacksmiths and Ironworkers

Compiled and written by AllThingsViking (August 31, 2015)

Came across this article from 2013 on, named “The Role and Status of the Smith in the Viking Age” – which in turn is an abstract of a thesis paper by Timothy Carlisle from University of Glasgow. This paper takes the conventional wisdom of the blacksmith as being held in high status, and puts it to the test. While being an academic paper, then it is well-written and very interesting reading.

The thesis explores topics like the portrayal of blacksmiths and ironworkers in the Viking Age myths and sagas. The Viking Age technology and techniques of iron working and smithing. And, it also includes the comparison of case studies from Finland and Norway.

It was not only as the makers of weapons that smiths held a high status, it was also in the crafting of tools (such as for farming) and other metal items. The thesis (not surprisingly) concludes that black smiths really did have a high social status – however, it does so with an academic/scientific approach, and therefore is a valuable contribution to what we know (as opposed to what we think we know) about the Viking Age. Well worth the time to skim or read it!

Read more: and full thesis from University of Glasgow (pdf)


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