Boom and Bust in Bronze Age Britain: The Great Orme Copper Mine and European Trade

By R. Alan Williams


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The Great Orme copper mine in North Wales is one of the largest surviving Bronze Age mines in Europe. This book presents new interdisciplinary research to reveal a copper mine of European importance, dominating Britain’s copper supply from c. 1600-1400 BC, with some metal reaching mainland Europe - from Brittany to as far as the Baltic.


About the Author

Alan Williams completed his PhD in 2018 on the Great Orme Bronze Age copper mine in Wales in the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, where he is an Honorary Research Fellow. He originally graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Mining Geology from the Royal School of Mines at Imperial College London, and after initially working in metal mining and exploration he had a long research career with the international glass company, Pilkington (now NSG). He was head of the Raw Materials and Glass Compositions Department at the company’s international research centre and was responsible for glass-making raw materials in over 20 countries. Since taking early retirement in 2012 he has been applying his expertise in geochemistry, ore geology, mineralogy and pyrotechnology to important archaeological challenges in the field of prehistoric metal mining and smelting. He has written several papers and three books on historic and prehistoric metal mining areas in Britain and Ireland. He also has a long-standing interest in Bronze Age tin since working at Wheal Jane tin mine in Cornwall as a student geologist over 40 years ago. With Dr Ben Roberts, he has initiated the Leverhulme funded Project Ancient Tin at Durham University where he is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology. He was awarded the Ben Cullen Prize in 2020 by the Antiquity Trust.