The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every two years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


Forging is the process of working and shaping pure metals. These metals are heated in a fire and worked with differently shaped hand forge hammers on a hard surface, the anvil. A blacksmith must be able to manage the fire well and see to it that it keeps burning, without smoke. He does this by taking care of the right air supply and adding coal in time. Embers and slag (the waste of the coal) must also be regularly removed from the fire with a hook. A good blacksmith carefully handles his anvil, not to dent it or cut off pieces. He puts the material to be forged between the anvil and the forge hammer. Because the material has been plasticised, it can easily be shaped into the required form with the hammer. A blacksmith uses several tools, one of the most important of which is the hand forge hammer. It is often the personal property of a smith, because it has been shaped to his hand over the years. Tools like fullers (for in the anvil) and pliers are often made by the blacksmith himself. The forging process can be divided into hand hammer forging with a hand hammer and mechanical forging with a pneumatic hammer. That is a machine with an electrically powered top fuller (hammer) and bottom fuller (anvil).



As of 1998 Smederij Cornelis Pronk (Cornelis Pronk Forge) endeavours with its Mondra Training Centre to pass on the knowledge of traditional forging and educate new blacksmiths within the tradition. Various vocational training courses in forging are given there. Through workshops people can get acquainted with the craft in an approachable way. For the highest primary school classes the project ‘Wijzer met ijzer’ (wiser with iron) was developed, in which children can forge, cast bronze and process aluminium.



Blacksmith is an ancient profession and blacksmiths have played a significant role in history. The blacksmith was important for farmers, because he made several of the tools they used. But forging was also important for other craftsmen with regard to tools, like the carpenter, the cooper and the shoe maker. But ‘ordinary’ people also profited from the work of the blacksmith, because he was able to repair many things. For the army a blacksmith was of vital importance. He made lances, swords, spears and other weapons and, of course, harnesses too. In the Middle Ages the first specialised forge guilds arose, in which specialisations were introduced, like padlock-maker, farrier, sword-maker and goldsmith. Within the guilds new craftsmen were trained. The processing of steel took mainly place in small-scale forges, until the industrial revolution came up in the nineteenth century. The mechanical hammer was developed, making the work lighter and facilitating the processing of large objects. On the other hand, much work could be taken over by machines and hand forging became superfluous in many cases. The technique of traditional forging has remained unchanged, but the demand for hand-forged objects has dropped. There are still a number of blacksmiths in the Netherlands who (can) forge in the traditional way.



Smederij Cornelis Pronk
Ambachtsweg 38