Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Identifying evidence for past mining and metallurgy from a record of metal contamination preserved in an ombrotrophic mire near Leadhills, SW Scotland, UK

Mighall, T., Martinez Cortizas, A., Silva Sanchez, N., Foster, I. D. L., Singh, S., Bateman, M. and Pickin, J. (2014) Identifying evidence for past mining and metallurgy from a record of metal contamination preserved in an ombrotrophic mire near Leadhills, SW Scotland, UK. The Holocene. 24(12), pp. 1719-1730. 0959-6836.

Item Type: Article
Abstract: This study presents a new 3600-year record of past metal contamination from a bog located close to the Leadhills and Wanlockhead orefield of southwest Scotland. A peat core, collected from Toddle Moss, was radiocarbon (14C) dated and analysed for trace metal concentrations (by EMMA) and lead isotopes (by ICP-MS) to reconstruct the atmospheric deposition history of trace metal contamination, in particular, lead. The results show good agreement with documented historical and archaeological records of mining and metallurgy in the region: the peak in metal mining during the 18th century, the decline of lead mining during the Anglo-Scottish war and lead smelting during the early medieval period. There may also have been earlier workings during the Late Bronze and Iron Ages indicated by slight increases in lead concentrations, the Pb/Ti ratio and a shift in 206Pb/207Pb ratios, which compare favourably to the signatures of a galena ore from Leadhills and Wanlockhead. In contrast to other records across Europe, no sizeable lead enrichment was recorded during the Roman Iron Age, suggesting that the orefield was not a significant part of the Roman lead extraction industry in Britain. These findings add to the various strands of archaeological evidence that hint at an early lead extraction and metallurgical industry based in southern Scotland. The results also provide further evidence for specific regional variations in the evolution of mining and metallurgy and an associated contamination signal during prehistoric and Roman times across Europe.
Additional Information: A pre-publication version of this article was made available electronically by the publisher on 02 October 2014
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lead, Leadhills, mining, peat, stable isotope analysis, Wanlockhead
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology > CC79.36 Soil science in archaeology
T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy > TN400 Ore deposits and mining of particular metals
T Technology > T Technology (General) > T37 Industrial archaeology
Creators: Mighall, Tim, Martinez Cortizas, Antonio, Silva Sanchez, Noemi, Foster, Ian D L, Singh, Surjit, Bateman, Mark and Pickin, John
Publisher: Edward Arnold
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: Faculties > Faculty of Arts, Science & Technology > Environmental Science
Date: 1 December 2014
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 1719-1730
Journal or Publication Title: The Holocene
Volume: 24
Number: 12
Language: English
ISSN: 0959-6836
Status: Published / Disseminated
Refereed: Yes
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