The Archaeology of Mining and Quarrying in England

A Research Framework, Assessment & Agenda

– Collated and edited by Phil Newman (2016)

The document is currently available on the National Association of Mining History Organisations (NAMHO) website.

If you wish to comment on any part of this framework please use the contact page on the NAMHO website.

Click on the cover image to access the Framework pages on the NAMHO site (will open in new tab).

Contributors – Peter Claughton, Mike Gill, Peter Jackson, Phil Newman, Adam Russell, Mike Shaw, Ian Thomas, Simon Timberlake, Dave Williams and Lynn Willies

Geological introduction by Tim Colman and Joseph Mankelow

Additional material provided by John Barnatt, Sallie Bassham, Lee Bray, Colin Bristow, David Cranstone, Adam Sharpe, Peter Topping, Geoff Warrington, Robert Waterhouse

Foreword from the publication

This publication presents the evidence collected in the first part of a Research Framework for the Archaeology of the Extractive Industries in England, carried out by the National Association of Mining History Organisations, partially funded by Historic England (formerly English Heritage)and drawing primarily on expertise within the voluntary sector. It is the first time such a comprehensive assessment of the historic extractive industries has been attempted and the opportunity was taken to carry out an in-depth study of the available resources, using published material before moving on to examine the current state of archaeological investigation. In doing so it brings together current knowledge on a wide range of issues, the geological background, the technologies used, the infrastructure of the industries, including the impact on transport links and settlement. It also examines historical, document based research and our knowledge of the industries based on archaeological investigation, not just for the extraction (mining or quarrying) of the minerals but their preparation and processing where it was carried out on or close to the extraction site.

The Resource Assessments are intended to be read collectively or individually.They begin chronologically, covering the prehistoric periods through to the end of Roman occupation. Thereafter, each mineral category is dealt with separately – bulk minerals, coal, iron, clay, lead, including silver and zinc, tin, copper, gold, gangue minerals and pigments, the minor metals, and then salt and the other evaporites.These are followed by two specialist assessments examining underground archaeology and the application of archaeological science to the study of the extractive industries.

Using the Historic Environment Records (HERs) as a starting point provided an overall picture for archaeological investigation, which revealed an imbalance across the country with some aspects of the extractive archaeology having a higher profile. The subsequent assessments also noted marked imbalances in the published historical material, which is dominated by coal and the non-ferrous metals. Archaeological investigation, much of it unpublished, has also revealed an imbalance in favour of the non-ferrous metals, with little effective investigation for coal or the bulk mineral (quarrying) industries. Investigation of iron production is notable in that it focuses almost entirely on the processing (smelting) rather than the extraction (mining) of its ores.

As a result of the assessments, gaps have been revealed in our knowledge on all aspects of past mining and quarrying. Using the available archaeological resources and the historical evidence, the potential for new or further investigations has been identified and these are presented as a Research Agenda with a series of research aims across a wide range of themes. These include not only those specific to particular minerals but others with cross-cutting priorities, including methodology and the need for increased training and capacity building in higher education to provide archaeologists with the working knowledge to investigate the extractive industries.

The results of this first part of the Research Framework will be used to develop priorities for further investigation. It also provides information that will assist in forming future conservation and research strategies, and help to raise general awareness of the significance of the extractive industries as a cultural resource.

Dr Peter Claughton MCIfA – Project Director