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We saw some picturesque stone houses in the village by Bolton Castle.

Bolton Castle

In fact, that entire section of Yorkshire seems to consist of nothing but violently rolling dales and houses made of old grey stone (and sometimes flowers).

Bolton Castle

I started to explore the castle. Much of it had been closed off when were were there in February, and it turned out that the castle was much bigger than I had realized. About four times as large, really, as the on intact section was mirrored by three now-defunct towers, all facing on a courtyard.

Bolton Castle

Before I could explore thoroughly, however, I got distracted by the forge. I was drafted as a blacksmith’s apprentice. I have always been fascinated by blacksmithery at living history museums like Sturbridge, Colonial Williamsburg and Leonards Mills. (Never heard of that one, have you? It’s a pioneer outpost in Maine with a working stream-powered sawmill. Daddy used to do axe demonstrations, and occasionally I helped. Nothing like peeling logs on a Saturday afternoon in the fall.) The smiths are understandably reluctant to hand over tools and yellow-hot iron to members of the public, though, so I’d never gotten my hands dirty before.

Bolton Castle forge

But this time I wasn’t a member of the public, and my hands got dirty, sweaty, and before I got the knack of the hammer, slightly bloody. It was a good day.

Bolton Castle forge

It’s tiring work, but very satisfying in the end. It also goes a lot faster once you get the knack of using the hammer correctly. Needless to say, I hadn’t, but I did improve toward the end.

Bolton Castle forge

I helped make these. Not just pumping the bellows, either. Among other things, I did the twisty handle on the end of the fire rake. It was a lot easier to manage the forge fire once we had finished that.

Bolton Castle forge

I have now found a re-enactment hobby even less portable or convenient than wood carving or basketry. Bolton Castle forge mistress

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