Brian G Awty


In 1937, Pirchegger suggested that great, or ‘Welsh’, hammers, were introduced from the 1420s onwards at forges in the mountains which separate Austria from Styria. Since then most historians have followed him in seeing northern Italy as their source. But the first known forge designated ‘Welsh’ was built around 1460 in the parish of Weyer in the Enns Valley of Austria. Smaller Brescian, or north Italian hammers, did not appear in Austria until the 1590s, some 130 years later; this occurred close to the Carinthian border with Italy,
a country regarded as ‘Welsh’ by German speakers. However, rather than being of Italian origin, it is suggested here that the 15th-century hammers were Walloon in origin; that the ‘grand marteau’, or drome-beam hammer (first mentioned in 1395 in the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse of Namur) was introduced into Austria during the 1420s, to support the manufacture of weapons for Duke Albert V of Austria. He needed them to help his patron and father-in-law, Emperor Sigismund of the House of Luxembourg, in his war against the Hussites.


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How to Cite
The Austrian lift-hammer – its probable Walloon origin. (2021). Historical Metallurgy, 42(1), 12-22.