Reading material for those who love the camping life

Text and photo: Olav Barhaugen
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 1, February 2016

Livelihood for centuries: Næs Ironworks Museum

Dotted with museums and attractions along the Norwegian roads. Here is something for every interest, and there is great variation in what you will encounter. Næs Ironworks Museum is a very interesting and educational museum displaying an important industry in Norway over the centuries.

Næs Ironworks Museum is located 5 km from the E18 at Tvedestrand. Take off at Grenstølkrysset (exit no. 67). From there, follow the signs to Åmli and the brown signs marked "Næs Jernverksmuseum" (road 415). The museum is the millennium site for Aust-Agder county, and is a living museum that provides a good insight into how iron production took place. Not least with the help of very knowledgeable guides. Næs Ironworks was in operation from 1665 to 1959, and is the best preserved of the old ironworks. All the most important buildings that made up an old ironworks have been preserved. Here we find a blast furnace, hammer mill and mechanical workshop. In addition, there is a restored dam facility with a gutter and impeller. In one of the houses there is a cinema hall where an informative film about Ironworks and the production there is shown.

Owned by Jacob Aall

Naes Ironworks was originally owned by Hobart man Jacob Aall, and it is his descendants still own around work and live in the ancient wonders victory residence. The museum area and buildings are owned by a foundation funded in part by sales and ticket revenue and public support from the Ministry of Culture and Cultural Heritage and others At the residence there is a great park which is also open to the public. Jacobs wife Lovise Andrea, b. Stephansen, accounting for construction of the park in the period from 1810 until his death in 1825. The inspiration came perhaps from Frederiksberg Have Copenhagen, which was converted by "English pattern" on 1790 century. Castles Manager where we socialize with family Stephansen. Probably the existing trees and plant species used, while both indigenous and imported crops were planted. Storelva got new race, and it was dug out ponds and canals and built dams and sills. A peninsula was turned into an island.

Resource-intensive production

There were many ironworks in Norway, and most were in Agder and Telemark. Here there was good access to ferrous ore, especially in the cliffs towards Arendal, and large forest areas that provided coal for the smelters. The farmers in the area around the ironworks were required to provide coal for the smelters. It required a lot of work. It took about 120 man-days to make a coal mile, and it took two days of operation in the smelters. It goes without saying that the ironworks operation had major ripple effects in the local community.


In the blast furnace was put coal and ore layers, and using large bellows were held guy in furnaces. The ore melted, and molten iron accumulated in the bottom of the oven. It was emptied twice a day, and contained as about 1000 liter iron. Iron mass was drained of forms that were laid out on the ground next to the oven. In the molds was sand that was rammed together with a utskå- ret wooden board. When iron is solidified it was been to include plates that one could build furnaces. Ovnsproduksjon was a big part of the business at the ironworks, but one cast also road signs, tombstones and more. Everything that can be cut in wood can also be cast in iron.

clean steel

It was also cast large blocks that were processed in the hammer mechanism. There were ingots hammered so that waste products were gone and got a cleaner steel. This was the iron bars which were later processed into tools and machine parts. The ironworks had its own workshop with lathes and machine planes where they could make the most.


Both bellows, hammer mechanism and machines in the mechanical workshop was run by water power from the dam in the river that flows past. In the workshop went shafts in the ceiling that drove straps that were attached to the machines. Here you have to be careful not bumped into belts. Nevertheless, there were no reports of serious accidents at the ironworks, except one that got broken an arm in one of the machines. In addition, there was a murder once. A boy had stolen the lunch box to one of the workers. He became so angry that he threw the boy into the blast furnace. This was incidentally the first time mental incapacity was assessed in a Norwegian court.

Worth a visit

The museum is definitely worth a visit. Skilled guides give you insight into this industry which was very important to Norway from the 1500th century until today. It is open every day from 15 May until the end of August, as well as the Sundays in September. Guided tours every full hour from 11.00 to 16.00 are organized in groups of approx. 10 - 15 people. The tours must be booked in advance by phone 96013384.

Throughout the year, you can also meet the blacksmith at the ironworks. Benjamin and Monica Kjellman-Chapin have their own smithy and outlet in the museum area. Benjamin has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Atlanta College of Art, and is a skilled craftsman and a good communicator of an old craft.

In addition to a visit to the museum, it is also a nice place to relax and enjoy the beautiful park and take a bath.

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