About smithy

kalve- (2) The Smithy is located besides the Cēsis Castle- ruins

In order to find out how the ancient artefacts were designed and created, experimental archaeology, a branch of archaeology science was established. Archaeology is a discipline of the humanities which studies the earliest history of mankind, employing material sources for this purpose: the burials of ancient people, remains of their dwellings and habitations, tools, weapons and jewelry. But not always does an artefact found by an archaeologist can tell him about its original shape, appearance and meaning, as over the centuries it was destroyed by both time and plough. An experimental archaeology must be used where hypotheses and theories of researchers need to be tested.  Both the technologies of ancient masters and tools are to be thoroughly studied through investigation and effort. 

The Smithy, a workshop of experimental archaeology, has been established and run by the Master of Applied Arts Daumants Kalniņš at the small cottage in the garden of the Cēsis castle in the year 1996. Craft of ancient jewelry’forgers was chosen by the Master as a subject for investigation and experiments.

Jeweler Daumants Kalniņš

Jeweler Daumants Kalniņš

D. Kalnins chose the festive clothes and ornaments of ancient Latgallians as the subject of study first of all because these were the ancient inhabitants of the Cēsis region where his experimental lab was located.  The Western frontier of Latgallian lands crossed the districts of Cēsis and Valmiera. A lot of castle- forts, burial- fields and other important sites were dislocated there in olden days. Secondly, the ancient Latgallians buried their dead in grave-pits, and so there are more material remains for carrying out reconstructions than in other areas where cremation was the dominant tradition. Thirdly, the large number of ornaments of bronze or so-called “green copper” has led to the preservation of grave goods of organic composition as well – artefacts of cloth, wood and leather. This factor also relieves the process of reconstruction of dress and other grave goods. Finally, in the observed time 9th- 13th centuries, the ornaments of Ancient Latgallians had reached their top richness and creative refinement.

Dazadas_010 1805

The ancient costumes are honoured in the Smithy

Daumants Kalnins set himself the task of making replicas of ancient jewelry for to see their full splendor. In order to reach this target, it was necessary to figure out the working methods and tools used by jewelers in the past. Daumants Kalniņš has discussed this subject in several books and a number of research papers. Monograph “Copper Garden Accross River Daugava” was published in 1995. Two generations of Latvian jewelers had started to learn to forge out the replications of antiquities by help of this book. The only reason why it was so is that nobody has been written anything about ancient Latvian jewelry making before. There was the book “Myth and Metal” issued in 1997. It told about common and different traditions of the jewelry making and wearing in the Baltic and Scandinavian countries in the Viking times.  The book “Smithy of Ancient Jewelry” was published in 2007. There were reflected an activities of the experimental studio of Daumants Kalniņš in the time of the first 15 years in the Cēsis castle. In July of 2011th it took place the presentation of Daumants’ new book “The Latgallian Treasures”. This book is written in English.


The creators of ""The Latgalian Treasures" present the new book

Usually, the nowadays jewelry are displayed in the salons, shops and exhibitions. The archaeological jewelry must be stored in repositories as well as in the museums’ expositions. Now both the ornaments of the past and the ones of present days are alighted with the flames of the burning forge of the Smithy. Such the synthesis for the first time took place in the Smithy for visitors enjoy and educate them. They can listen to a narration about the meaning of the ornaments and patterns. For those who are adventurous enough there is a complete set of jewelry waiting to be tried on. Also there is a wide choice of beautifully wrought jewelry pieces for sale, as well.




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8. The photo – chronicler of the smithy Elīna Graudiņa


9. Jeweler Tālis Kivlenieks


10. Artist Anna Druka