Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/222

This page needs to be proofread.

flexible, the smith will devote an amount of labour and time which we should think thrown away. He tempers the blade in oil not twenty or thirty times, but twice that amount, till he is satisfied that it has attained the perfection he desires. When we read in the Scandinavian Sagas of the digging into old grave-mounds in quest of swords that had been manufactured by Dwarfs, we are forced to the conviction that such blades, if good for anything, must have been thus oil-tempered again and again in the manufacture, and so only could have withstood rust.

The knowledge of iron came to the Greeks about 1200 B.C. and iron weapons and implements were carried up the Danube by Scythian nomadic dealers. A great centre of early iron manufacture would seem to have been in Illvria arid Thrace. but who the ironworkers were who travelled in the north of Europe and in Britain we do not know.

A few characteristic stories of this people must suffice. A man rose one morning on the way from Apenrade to Jordkirch by the "Three hills". He heard hammering going on vigorously in one. So he shouted that he wanted a chaff--cutter, and rode on his way. In the evening, on his return, he saw a brand--new chaff--cutting knife lying on the