Ancient Mines and Quarries: A Trans-Atlantic Perspective by Adrian Burke, David Field, Margaret Brewer-LaPorta

By Adrian Burke, David Field, Margaret Brewer-LaPorta

Fourteen papers discover quite a number matters in terms of prehistoric extraction websites, together with ethnography, geochemical signatures, the appliance of neutron activation research, exploitation of erratics, excavation, survey and conservation.

subject matters contain quernstone extraction, use of hammers, phases of extraction, geographical and social contexts, altering social regimes, the ritualised nature of trips to quarry websites, learn of petrofabrics, and the consequences of joint and cleavage on quarrying perform. contributions are in French with prolonged summaries in English.

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Safety issues are survival-defining parameters at these extraction sites. In the archaeological record lengthy journeys or extensive exchange networks are demonstrated by the widespread distribution of many types of stone axe, especially the abundant Group VI axes which were transported not only throughout the UK but a large number that crossed the Irish Sea to Ireland and the Isle of Man. In contrast the Group IX axes originating in Northern Ireland, travelled in the opposite direction eastwards over the Irish Sea and were transported throughout the UK (cf.

37), suggests that much of the raw material or pre-forms were transported off-site and reduction was not a major feature of mining when Shaft 13 was being exploited. Unlike the mines, the axe ‘factories’ have little overt material record of ritualised activity beyond occasional hoards of axes, as at Penmaenmawr and Langdale. However, the disturbed nature of many axe-production sites and excavation bias may have obscured the true picture. A glimpse of what may have been a wider tradition of ritualisation is recorded at Graig Lwyd, where a rough-out axe was laid at the base of a quarry face and buried with debitage (Williams 1994, 36–8), suggesting an act of renewal.

Little settlement evidence has been recorded amongst the flint mines, although this may reflect excavation bias. However, at Harrow Hill in Trench 2 lying to the north of Shaft 13 (McNabb et al. 1996, 28–30), a number of small ‘depressions’ and gulleys were discovered which could define a series of temporary structures such as a wind break or tent, with some form of scaffold or series of uprights set near to the mouth of the shaft. A small amount of knapping debris lay between the two structures, suggesting the definition of an activity area featuring the small-scale crafting of axes in this location.

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