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Working Life


At work in the smithy in Castle Douglas



John MacDonald and his apprentice at work, Castle Douglas. Dr Werner Kissling, 1957.


These four photographs show blacksmith John MacDonald and his unidentified apprentice at work in the smithy. Blacksmithing was taught by apprenticeship and this apprentice would have spent several years learning through experience in the smithy with John MacDonald.


The top two photographs show the apprentice heating tools in the fire. He is pulling the lever on the bellows to increase the heat of the fire.


The bottom two photographs show John MacDonald shaping a horse shoe. He is holding the shoe with tongs in one hand and using the hammer with the other.


Dr Werner Kissling (1895-1988) was a German photographer and ethnographer who spent most of his life documenting Scottish crafts, architecture, and agricultural practices. He was associated with Dumfries Museum from the mid-1950s until his death in 1988.


With thanks to the School of Scottish Studies Archives for additional information.

Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
PP/KISSLING COLLECTION, blacksmithing/147-150
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
Dumfires & Galloway Council