A palaeoenvironmental investigation of mine sediments from Copa Hill, Cwmystwyth, mid-Wales

Timothy Michael Mighall, S. Timberlake, S. H. E. Clark, A. Caseldine

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Abstract

This paper investigates the use of mine sediments to reconstruct the vegetational changes and atmospheric pollution history associated with prehistoric and Mediaeval metal mining in the Ystwyth valley, Dyfed, mid-Wales. Pollen, charcoal, plant macrofossils, fossil insects and chemical analyses are presented from Radiocarbon-dated sediments contained within a prehistoric mine situated on the upper slope of Cope Hill, close to the village of Cwmystwyth. The results provide additional support to the hypothesis that prehistoric mining had a negligible impact on woodland and that deforestation took place after Bronze Age mining ceased. Although high concentrations of Cu, Pb and Zn were determined form sediments of prehistoric and Roman Age, the patterns bear little resemblance to off site atmospheric pollution records and to the archaeological evidence for metal mining. Interpreting geochemical data from mine contexts is problematic as numerous factors influence the distribution adn concentration of metals. However, an on-site and off-site approach to investigate human-environment interactions caused by metal mining is advocated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1188
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume29
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • Bronze Age
  • copper
  • fossil insects
  • lead
  • mining
  • plant macrofossils
  • pollen
  • Wales
  • DATED POLLEN DIAGRAMS
  • SOUTH-WALES
  • AGE CALIBRATION
  • BLANKET PEATS
  • HEAVY-METALS
  • DRAINAGE
  • LEAD
  • POLLUTION
  • HISTORY
  • COPPER

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