Roman Mining in Britain


    IN a paper on Roman mining in Britain, read before the Newcomen Society on March 30, Mr. G. C. Whittick gave a review of the mining operations during the whole of the Roman occupation. Though the Roman invasion cannot be ascribed chiefly to the desire to gam possession of the country's mineral wealth, after the initial seizure of the south-east of the island, there followed the inevitable accompaniment of the exploitation of minerals, particularly lead. After referring to the mining methods, to the treatment of ores, and to the question of organisation, Mr. Whittick dealt with the mining of coal, gold, copper, lead, iron, and tin. During the first century and a half of the Roman occupation, lead was the most important product of Britain. Lead mining in the Mendips was apparently begun so early as A.D. 49, and production rose rapidly during the reigns of Nero (A.D. 54–68) and Vespasian (A.D. 69–79). The centre of Roman activity in the district was in the valley of the Blackmoor, just south of Blackdown. The ore was obtained from surface workings, and from the waste heaps of the workings many pigs of Roman lead have been recovered. Lead was also mined in Flintshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, and Shropshire. Most of the pigs which have been found hear inscriptions, and some have been officially stamped showing that they had been desilverised. The iron-workings of the Roman period were concentrated in the Weald and in the Forest of Dean, and tin mining was carried out to a small extent in Cornwall.

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    Roman Mining in Britain. Nature 129, 572–573 (1932).

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