Kopperåa River (Norvège): Medieval copper smelter found
Medieval copper smelter find is Norway's oldest
Medieval copper production in Norway was surprisingly sophisticated, a new archaeological find suggests
Asle Rønning / Translated by Glenn Ostling
A rushing river in Nord-Trøndelag County, near the Swedish border, is slowly giving up its secrets.
This summer, archaeologists excavated a smeltery on a little island where advanced metal production was carried out in the 1300s.
The smelter excavation site. (Photo: Lars F. Stenvik)
Per Steinar Brevik documents the excavation site. (Photo: Lars F. Stenvik)
“This is the first evidence that copper was produced from copper ore in Norway during the Middle Ages,” says Associate Professor Lars F. Stenvik, at the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Trondheim.
Charcoal with the green residue of copper found next to the smelter. (Photo: Lars F. Stenvik)
He’s spent a lot of time searching for traces of Norwegian copper production from this period. The evidence is starting to fall in place.
In many ways, ore extraction and copper smelting were the starting point for a major modern Norwegian industry, with big mines operating in the 18th and 19th centuries.
But evidence of domestic copper production prior to 1500 has been scant.
A smelter from the 1500s - drawing of Georgius Agricola's work "De Re Metallica" from 1556 (Source: Project Gutenberg).
Copper was an important metal in medieval times and was used in a number of products, from coins to church bells.