The knowledge of producing iron originates in the early historical times of cultural people. When European lands were settled, people immediately began to produce this significant material in all ore-bearing areas.
Locations of Iron working culture in Kranjska (Carniola) and in other historical Counties of Slovenian ethnical areas are found at the sites – necropolises, named GRADIŠČE (Graben der Krainische Gradišče, A. Müllner).
Peasants in the County Kranjska smelted iron ore till the 18th century (bloomery).
We have tried to answer the question:
Who were the inhabitants of Bohinj in the ancient Norik area in the former County Kranjska, and what was their knowledge of iron production.
The bloom - treasure for ancient and nowadays smelters
(International Ironworks Festival, Stara Fužina, Bohinj 2016)
We have been able to demonstrate that in ancient Bohinj, an advanced level of the direct method of iron production was practised. The Noric iron and steel was also produced in Bohinj, which was the part of the ironworking centre of the »St. Lucija culture«.
Iron was made by the ancient Bohinj inhabitants who spoke a language similar to that spoken today in the Upper Bohinj Valley. The Greek writer Apolonius Rodius determined the iron workers’ work as very »hard and tiring«. Their work is not only producing iron, it underpinned their very survival and sense of living. Their life was mindful and cultural. All this was shown in their votive offerings donated to the Divinity of growth and fertility. These miniature iron products were found mainly in Bohinj, at Dunaj pri Jereki in the Upper Bohinj Valley.
We identify that the modern »fužina« method of iron production began with the arrival of the Brescian smelters into this area. The quality and quantity of iron products in this period is considered to be above the Europen average. The high point of production is reached at the time of Michelangelo and Žiga Zois, who supplied the whole North Italian market.
Without the wonder of the Alpine world, limonit iron ore, »železovec, bobovec«, which accompanied the ancient smelters from Greece to Noric and to the Slovenian Fužinas, there would be no such story.
Author: Ivo Janez Cundrič
Translation: Julijana Cundrič, dr. Urška Repinc
Revision: Robert Demaus and Colin Richards, GB