03 March, 2013
Deep in a valley in the foothills of the Austrian Alps, along the Iron Trail, in the shadow of Ore Mountain, we find the Mile of Forges - and an old Blacksmith’s Cottage.
Inside, sat at the forge hammer, or stoking the fire - as he has done for 500 years - we find the smith himself.
At one time 69 privileged blacksmiths worked in this area, with another 90 who survived without the Imperial Favour. Their products were exported to all parts of the Austrian Empire - to Bohemia, Moravia and Trieste, as well as further afield to Germany, Prussia, Italy, Poland, Russia… and out to the Middle East and beyond.
The Alpine streams provided the power, the forested hills the fuel and Ore Mountain the raw material. The valley rang to the clang of metal on metal.
Today the descendants of these ‘Black Earls’ are still in business, with their modern forges and factories still sending their ironwares out around the world. But there are still one or two smiths sat at their forges, crafting their tools by hand in the way they always have.
So deep in the valley in the Austrian Alps, along the Iron Trail, in the shadow of Ore Mountain, in the Mile of Forges, think of the Blacksmith sat at his hammer forge, in the living metal workshop, as he has for 500 years.