The Mästermyr Find: A Viking Age Tool Chest from Gotland

By: Henry T. Brown, Greta Arwidsson, and Gosta Berg – Published: 1999

Mastermyr Find

Price : $ – Amazon

Philip’s Ranking: 4
Beginner Blacksmith: 0
Advanced Blacksmith: 0
Inspiration: 5
Historical: 5

Video Review: N/A

Mästermyr chest

In 1936 while plowing a field on the island of Gotland Hugo Kraft was plowing his field and the plow unearthed a tool chest from the Viking age (793-1066).  The tool chest contained over 200 blacksmithing and woodworking tools or in progress projects & repair work.

The book itself is a slim 88 pages but it packs a tremendous amount of information into the book.  The key subjects covered are:

  1. The circumstances of the find
  2. Catalogue of items in the find
  3. Pre-medieval comparative material
  4. Ethnological aspects of the find
  5. The Age of the find
  6. Geological analysis, Metallographic examinations, and wood determinations
  7. 32 plates of photographs and sketches of the tool box and the contents in it

Since the chest seems to have been lost unexpectedly in a bog it represents what appears to be a unique snapshot of a complete set of tools for this smith.  If you are interested in historical blacksmithing this is a hugely valuable find and the artifacts contained are an endless source of inspiration. 

Mästermyr Fire GrateOne item that I found particularly interesting was a fire grate.  The fire grate was the answer to how do I smith in the dark. For proper forging light is important and so this grate would be hung with flaming logs in it so the smith could see what they were working on.  Unlike other historic examples with plates for a base this one is designed so that the ash and cinders could simply fall through the grating to the floor.

I plan on trying to reproduce this soon so that I can test out how effective it is and if it seems likely to simply catch everything on fire.  

This book is reasonably priced and for anyone interested in reproducing Viking age ironwork this book is a must.

As this isn’t a “blacksmithing” book per se so I’ve rated it as a 0 out of 5 for beginner and advanced blacksmiths because it doesn’t cover any real blacksmithing techniques.  However for inspiration and historical detail this gets a 5 out of 5.

My personal rating of a 4 reflects the fact that it has a slightly narrow focus and isn’t applicable to all blacksmiths.