Film ID:
YFA 5637



Visitor Tabs


Jack Wood, a blacksmith working near Bolton Abbey, is the subject of this short film looking at the manufacture of branding irons, or ‘horn burns’. The film also shows Bolton Abbey and some of the surrounding countryside

Title – The Initial Craft by J. Eric Hall

The film opens with a weathervane turning in the wind as a man cycles out of a driveway and a tractor pulls into a farm yard. A man loads turnips into a trailer with a shovel and cows are seen grazing.

The ruins of Bolton Abbey are shown from several angles and a hand points out carved markings in the stone, which the commentary notes are the marks of master masons from centuries ago.

A car stops at a petrol station, the door to which is marked all over with various initials. The owner, Jack Wood, shows the end of a branding iron, and the commentary explains that Mr Wood has been making these irons, or ‘horn burns’, on the Duke of Devonshire’s estate at Bolton Abbey for 50 years.
In the farm yard previously seen, the farmer uses such an iron to brand a sheep’s horn.

In Mr Wood’s workshop, he demonstrates how a piece of quarter-inch steel bar is made into a burning iron. He files the metal, marks the letters, and carves them by hand using a saw and a drill. Wearing protective goggles, he then uses a welding iron to fix the two initial stamps together and attach a handle. He tests the iron on a wooden shelf edge.

At the farm yard, the farmer’s wife comes out of the farmhouse with a hot branding iron, which the farmer applies to a sheep’s horn. The commentary claims that sheep need branding in this way as rustling still goes on in remote parts of the Dales.

The door to Mr Wood’s workshop is seen again, followed by the Abbey ruins. The film closes with views of a bridge, probably the Bolton Bridge, over the River Wharfe, with children wading in the water.

Title - The End