Introduction to Medieval ironwork with Joe Tyler

Ref: S1D32022

Location: West Dean
Book now

1 place available

About this course

An introduction to the basic practices of the historical blacksmith, specifically of the Saxon and Viking era, to create authentic ironwork from over a thousand years ago. You will make small items including a wall hook or bracket set, a decorative door handle or arrow head.

Course Description

Ever wondered what it would be like to create an object using heritage craft skills from over a thousand years ago? This one-day course will do exactly that by giving you the fundamental skills to create objects that are useful today, but which also have authentic character. Swing your hammer and get creative, and see how our ancestors crafted their way through the Iron and Steel Ages.

You will learn the skills an apprentice of the Medieval Age would have been shown, and utilise this knowledge as you forge, bend, twist, cut and form steel to create either historically accurate replica pieces or items with a modern twist.

In the morning, you will be shown the basic techniques of blacksmithing and you will have time to practise these skills and to make a simple and usable item, such as a hanging hook, door handle or keyring.

In the afternoon, you will use your knowledge gained on the anvil to make a useful item or two to take away and use, such as the following:

Wall hook bracket/set

Decorative door handle

Arrow heads

Your skills and ability will determine how many items you will make. You will definitely leave with a sense of achievement and something you can be proud of, as well as new knowledge of the basic practices of the historical blacksmith, specifically covering the Saxon and Viking era.

The fundamental blacksmithing processes taught during the course are:







Joinery skills

Course Materials


  • All fuel costs and mild steel stocked by the College, including 8mm square steel for decorative hanging chains, 6mm flat steel for hinges, 8mm round steel for arrow heads, 10mm square steel, slitting discs and beeswax, are provided.
  • Leather aprons, welding gauntlets, goggles, welding helmets and ear defenders can be borrowed from the Forge.

What students need to bring

  • You will need to wear clothing suitable for workshop use, together with steel toe capped boots. Please note that cotton or wool clothing is preferable to nylon or other synthetics. Shorts do not provide necessary protection. For your safety, it is mandatory to wear steel toe capped safety boots when undertaking a course in the Forge. You must provide your own footwear and bring it with you to wear on the course. If you fail to bring suitable footwear, you will not be able to take part in the course. Safety boots can be purchased from most tool hire shops and builders’ merchants, as well as online.
  • You must wear goggles (provided) and suitable protective clothing for this course. Leather aprons, welding gauntlets, goggles, welding helmets and ear defenders can be borrowed from the Forge, or you can bring them along if you have them. If, for example, you have particularly large or small hands, your own leather work gloves are likely to be a better fit.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • General art materials

Additional information

Please note: This course will be in the Forge, which is a 10-minute walk from the main house through the walled garden or can be accessed by car. You should arrive by 8:50am for registration at the Main House to ensure that you can walk/be directed over to the forge at 9:05am for a 9:15am start. Classes are from 9:15am – 5pm. As this course is held in the Forge, morning coffee and afternoon tea will be held in the nearby Carrington Studio. You will return to the main house for lunch. Please note that tutor supervision is always required when you are working in the Forge.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

General Information


Joe Tyler - Tutor at West Dean College

Joe Tyler

Joe Tyler trained at the National School of Blacksmithing, Herefordshire. Joe’s interests lie in history, especially ancient crafts, and all types of metal work from historical and traditional to contemporary. 
Joe carries out demonstrations and talks all year round in various locations across the UK on blacksmithing in the Saxon period as well as modern blacksmithing techniques. 

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