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29 October 2014

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You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Archaeology > Getting hammered!

A selection of Blacksmith hammers

Getting hammered!

You never have the right brain removal tool to hand when you need it do you? Unless of course you're Don Barker. The York blacksmith made the gruesome implements, used in the process of Egyptian mummification, for the History TV Channel.

From cranial crochets to brain removal tools, Don’s brief was to replicate a range of instruments that were used over three thousand years ago in the 19th Dynasty (1292 to 1190 BC) to prepare and preserve pharaohs for the afterlife.

A blacksmith making a cranial crotchet

Making a cranial crotchet: heat, hammer, cool.

“Whilst the tools looked innocent enough their purposes are a bit frightening!” says Don who created the tools from the forge at his home near Wigginton.

"They were poked up the nose and the top of the nose was broken, so they went into the brain and then they twisted them round in the brain so that it liquefied, then they tipped the head sideways and poured it out of the nose!"

"they twisted them round in the brain so that it liquefied, then they tipped the head sideways and poured it out of the nose!"

Don comes from a family of blacksmiths going back hundreds of years.

As well as the Egyptian mummification tools he's worked on a host of projects at many of the UK’s landmark buildings including Westminster Abbey and has just replaced a six foot high copper cross which was stolen from the front of a church in Hull.

A blacksmith hammering steel

Don forms the business end of a cranial crotchet.

His coke fire forge brings the temperature up to 1200 degrees, which is hot enough to melt steel.

This means Don can use one of the ancient techniques of fire welding - joining two pieces of metal together at a molten temperature - so there's no need for electrical welding. "Very practical sometimes," says Don, "but also very slow."  

last updated: 02/06/2008 at 17:21
created: 04/01/2008

You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Archaeology > Getting hammered!



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