Background and activities

About Arne EspelundAfter I retired in the year 1997, I have with great pleasure had a chance to widen my knowledge of the development of metallurgy since ancient times and also through my presentations get acquainted with a number of friendly and interested persons. The Norwegian Research Council gave me a good start by giving me a senior scholarship for three years. My university NTNU provides a room and the normal services while there is a flow of publications from my hands, many in English, some in German and French. As a Norwegian I feel obliged to publish also in my native language. I have established my own publishing firm, named Arketype. Till now I have written and published 9 books, of which 4 still can be purchased from me and my firm:


Brunosten. Historien til et godt næringsemne gjennom 300 år (New edition 2009)
(The brown cheese and its history during 300 years)

Bondejern i Norge (new edition 2008)
(The farmers’ iron in Norway)

Jernet i Vest-Telemark der tussane rådde grunnen (2004)
(The iron in Western Telemark where the goblins ruled) (Summaries in English)

Fra berggrunn og jordsmonn i Rørostraktom (2005)
(From the rocks and the soil around Røros)


I initiated an international conference on the archaeometallurgy of iron in Budalen in the year 1991. It was attended by more than 100 scholars from most European countries, including also USA. The proceedings were written in English, French and German and issued as three volumes with the heading "Bloomery Ironmaking during 2000 years." The title expresses that ironmaking started in Norway at the time of Alexander’s conquest of the ancient world, 1000 years before the period of the Vikings. Bloomery (direct) ironmaking based upon bog iron ore is documented by thousands of slag heaps in the upper valleys. They express three or four different technologies, showing an interesting pattern in time and space. The first method in Trøndelag had an industrial character and has been studied at some 8 sites under the leadership of archaeologists from the university in Trondheim while I took care of analytical work. The method was abandoned around year 600, seemingly connected with some crisis on the Continent and changes from large farms with chieftains and serfs to small farms, of a size like those at present time. The second method is shown by some 10 000 slag heaps, mostly north and west of Oslo. The third method is typical for the area on both sides of the border to Sweden, well described by the farmer and sheriff Ole Evenstad in the year 1782. His method can be adequately interpreted, like the Catalan process, which also was described in contemporary documents. Each method is very distinct.

The two older methods have not been reproduced, in spite of many attempts. Therefore bloomery ironmaking is a challenge not only for metallurgists, but also for antropologists, studying human development before the advent of science.

Lately I have also studied the history of copper production, not only in Norway, but also in Àgordo, Italy.

Extractive metallurgy by analysis of the finds and use of theory can express the problems of direct ironmaking and also give a clue for how the problems could be solved. While I try to go deeply into the problems reduction, carbon control, slag formation and sintering of the bloom, I have a holistic approach, with emphasis on ore formation, the development of climate and vegetation, place names, habitat etc.

I have also done field work in Northern Iceland and also visited Newfoundland (L'anse aux Meadows), where Norse settlers stayed for some 10 years around year 1000, As a result I have published a paper in English on ironmaking in Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, issued in Reykjavik..

My other field is the history of the folk dance in Europe, with emphasis on both form and function. My specialty is the Medieval chain dance, represented as the Branle in France, the Horo in the South Slav countries and the traditional dance in the Faeroe Islands. Another favourite is the "Longways for as many as will", typical for the British Isles.


Scientific, academic and artistic work

A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database

Journal publications