Bronze Sword Workshop 2012

September 10th to the 16th

Sword Festival  2012 will be held in the ancient landscape of West Penwith / Lands End: a land that was once rich in tin, and known well to traders of the ancient world.  Prehistoric monuments litter this ancestral land where you can connect with the roots of ancient metallurgy.

What started out as a number of experiments by a small group of people has now become the greatest venue for bronze sword casting in Europe and is the annual gathering of my bronze sword group (The Children of Neil) who are relearning the art of bronze sword making from the European Bronze Age.

This five day workshop will explore many aspects of Bronze Age sword manufacture, with each person working on their own sword and exploring the casting of swords as a group.

The workshop consists of two modules.Over the first two days we will look at the development of the sword from the copper dagger, and how the casting technology develops after the introduction of tin bronze and the rapid development of blade forms into the late Bronze Age.
You will work on your own Ewart park castings, cleaning and finishing the blades.This will include edge forging
and a look at handle types and fittings.

The second module consists of experimental casting in which you will participate with the bronze sword study group,  The casting of bronze swords and lunate spear heads in clay molds has been one of our more recent  achievements and we plan to take this forward over the week.

The cost of the workshop is £300 and places are limited to 8 and can only be booked with a non returnable deposit of £100 and full payment in early September. You will need to talk to me so that I can make sure it will be what you want and that it will suit you.

Breakfast and sandwich lunches materials are provided, which you make yourself, and a fair amount of chipping in is needed to make this work  and you would be expected to do your bit.

You will also cover the cost of all the meals out which will be reasonably priced. A bit of car sharing  is also needed to get there.

Rough Itinerary
I know from past experience that it is impossible to run an hour by hour time table so I have reduced it to important times like getting to the pub and back for the evening.
It is possible to arrive Sunday if you are camping or can bring a camp bed and don't mind sharing the round house.

Monday 10th
Arrive when you can, set up your tent or claim a bunk and help with any other setting up still to do, a welcome and site briefing talk in the afternoon evening meal in the north inn  back to round house for socialising.


Tuesday 11th
Sword workshop all day working on your own sword evening meal in the pub  then back to the round house for more socialising.


Wednesday 12th
Sword workshop all day and afternoon talk This is by archaeologist Mark Knight on the Must farm excavation in Cambridgeshire, apart from the many swords and log boats, this excavation opens an interesting window on every day life in the Bronze Age  Bronze Age Must Farm - Monuments to Swords.

The Must Farm investigations are situated along the southern side of the Flag Fen Basin near Peterborough. To date the excavations have exposed a landscape that changed from dryland to wetland during the course of the Bronze Age. In the beginning the landscape was characterised by monuments, pathways and hoof-prints, whereas later on it became a place of logboats, causeways and swords. The transformation from monuments to logboats, pathways to causeways and hoof-prints to swords is the story of the site and, to a large extent, the story of the British Bronze Age.

Evening meal in the pub then back to the round house for The Gold Lyre of Ur
An evening of Mesopotamian poetry and music from the The Gold Lyre of Ur, travel back to 4700 BC


Thursday 13th
Experimental sword and spear casting using clay moulds though out the day and evening meal in the pub. Return to round house for music and poetry  with are good friends Bagas Degol 


Friday 14th
Experimental sword and spear casting using clay moulds throughout the day. Evening meal curry cooked by Freyalynn which is stunning.

In the evening we welcome the return of The Guild of Fabulists



Saturday 15th
I have left this day open to possibly take in some of the many site or picnic on St Michael's Mount whatever takes the mood of the group.
The evening meal will be in Field house restaurant within walking distance


Sunday 16th
Pack up and clear site and close the round house  to leave by midday, lifts to the station can be arranged

The Gathering of The Children of Neil is the yearly gathering of Bronze Age enthusiasts and experts from around the world to celebrate the mastery of Bronze Age metal workers and the making of bronze swords in ancient times. The gathering is regularly attended by people from the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands. This year we had a varied group of familiar attendees. In 2008 we were treated to a talk on Bronze Age jewelery by Ben Roberts who keeps the Bronze Age collection at the British Museum. In 2009 Trevor Cowie who is the keeper of the Bronze Age for Historic Scotland gave a talk on Scottish swords from river finds and 2010 the talk was by Marion Uckelmann European expert on bronze shields. In 2011 our talk will be by noted expert Ian Colquhoun on bronze swords .

The nearest station is Penzance Cornwall and buses run regally or taxis.

Useful links

Local Historic Sites

Golden Lyre

Sunset Farmhouse (B&B)

The North Inn Pendeen (Food and B&B)

Hire Tipis Camp in Style