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Welsh Mine Supplied Copper to Bronze Age Europe

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wales Copper MineCONWY, WALES—According to a BBC News report, the Great Orme mine in northern Wales was Britain's primary producer of copper during a mining boom that lasted from about 1600 to 1400 B.C. Geoarchaeologist Alan Williams of the University of Liverpool and University of Rennes archaeometallurgy specialist Cécile Le Carlier de Veslud analyzed copper ore from the mine, which scholars had previously thought was only a limited operation during the Bronze Age, and found that the metal was used to make bronze weapons and tools that have been discovered across Britain as well as in France, Germany, and Sweden. During the 200-year spike in activity at Great Orme, Williams estimates that miners produced several hundred tons of copper, an amount sufficient to make thousands of bronze objects each year. "This very extensive distribution suggests a large-scale mining operation [in Bronze Age terms], with a full-time mining community," he said. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Antiquity. For more on metallurgy and trade in the British Isles, go to "Bronze Age Ireland's Taste in Gold."

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