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

Tim Mighall, Antonio Martinez Cortizas, Noemí Silva Sánchez, Ian D.L. Foster, Surjit Singh, Mark Bateman, John Pickin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1719-1730
    JournalThe Holocene
    Volume24
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

    Fingerprint

    mire
    metallurgy
    metal
    Iron Age
    trace metal
    archaeological evidence
    Bronze Age
    lead isotope
    smelting
    Medieval
    galena
    bog
    atmospheric deposition
    moss
    peat
    contamination
    Contamination
    Metals
    Scotland
    Metallurgy

    Bibliographical note

    This paper is not yet available on the repository

    Keywords

    • lead Leadhills mining peat stable isotope analysis Wanlockhead

    Cite this

    Identifying evidence for past mining and metallurgy from a record of metal contamination preserved in an ombrotrophic mire near Leadhills, SW Scotland, UK. / Mighall, Tim; Cortizas, Antonio Martinez; Sánchez, Noemí Silva; Foster, Ian D.L.; Singh, Surjit; Bateman, Mark; Pickin, John.

    In: The Holocene, Vol. 24, No. 12, 12.2014, p. 1719-1730.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Mighall, Tim ; Cortizas, Antonio Martinez ; Sánchez, Noemí Silva ; Foster, Ian D.L. ; Singh, Surjit ; Bateman, Mark ; Pickin, John. / Identifying evidence for past mining and metallurgy from a record of metal contamination preserved in an ombrotrophic mire near Leadhills, SW Scotland, UK. In: The Holocene. 2014 ; Vol. 24, No. 12. pp. 1719-1730.
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    AU - Singh, Surjit

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    AB - 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.

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