Boom and Bust in Bronze Age Britain: the Great Orme copper mine and European trade


This is a landmark study concerning the origins of mining and metallurgy in Britain. Alan Williams has turned his PhD thesis into a scholarly publication that provides the reader with a compelling narrative based upon thorough fieldwork, a good understanding of geology, and an insightful study of the mineralogy, chemistry, and isotopic composition of the ores available to Bronze Age miners. A convincing case is made for tracing the metal from its source to bronze artefacts that began to appear in abundance across Britain, and also parts of the Continent, during the earlier Middle Bronze Age. These include some of the commonest bronze axes found – the distinctive shield palstaves associated with the Acton Park (1600-1400 BC) metalwork industry. This mine-based metal vs artefact metal analysis approach is archaeological science at its best – and I predict it will change the way we look at ancient metal and metal ore sources in the future. For the non-specialist, this book may be a little heavy on data, though is not difficult to read. If you can afford it, and your interest is in metal, mines, and the Bronze Age, then this book is for you.

R Alan Williams
Archaeopress, £60 (pbk), £16 (eBook)
ISBN 978-1803273785