38 – Scotcast Part Four

We’re closing out the BC period. Which means we’ve got iron, Celtic culture, and Brochs. Good times!

(History of Britain, History of Scotland, Celtic History)

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  1. Big fan. A bit behind in the show. Only on #38. Probably gonna become a member this weekend. Excited for that. One question though and it in regards to the Post-Roman Britain. Did you use John Morris’ book The Age of Arthur as a source. I’ve found that it is one of the better sources to that time frame. It’s a really dry read, even for a history buff however the amount of information is amazing. Thanks and I already have ya on Facebook, keep up the great work!!

  2. It was pointed out, someplace out there, and plausibly it seems to me, that while working iron requires some technology, it does not require trade in the same way that bronze production does – tin and copper not generally being found in the same place, tin relatively scarce while iron ore, comparatively, is all over the place. So once the technology is acquired iron can be produced more or less locally. In times of conflict when trade routes are precarious or cut, bronze is at a disadvantage. Though, until the advent of steel, I have not found anything that suggests iron is actually harder than bronze. Tougher perhaps.


  3. I listened to the Scotcast episodes a few days ago and I noticed 2 small errors in your discussion of iron work. I don’t remember if it was episode 37 or 38. When iron was smelted from ore in this period it would not have been cast. It comes out as a bloom which is hard but porous mass or iron and slag. That can be reheated and pounded down to be a hard dense iron block but it is never liquid at any point in that process and it cannot be cast. Cast iron was a somewhat different product produced by a much hotter smelting process in larger furnaces toward the end of the medieval period. The Chinese may have been producing cast iron in this early period but that technology did not appear in Europe during the iron age.
    Second, you described the process or tempering iron in a reasonable manner but it should be noted that pure iron or wrought iron cannot really be tempered very well. It requires the mixture of carbon into the alloy to produce steel in order for it to really be tempered properly. This was accomplished during iron age by adding carbon to the surface of iron bars in a reducing environment and then twisting or folding and welding those thinly enriched iron bars together over and over to raise the overall carbon content of the iron to turn it into steel so that it could be tempered. I don’t know when that process was discovered but it took some time for people to figure it out.

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