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Field Visit

Date 13 May 2012 - 28 May 2012

Event ID 992759

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


NM 819 002 (centred on) The overall aim of the research project is to identify prehistoric copper mining in Scotland. The survey began, 13–28 May 2012, by visiting sites where probable hammerstones have been found. Sites visited included Barhullion, Balcraig, Kirklauchline and Wanlockhead all in Dumfries and Galloway, an area where the discovery of a copper ore (bornite) outcrop in a recent quarry at Kirklauchline was of particular interest.

Several other copper mining districts in SW and central Scotland were also visited, including the Tullich Mine at Loch Tay (Perth and Kinross), different sites in the mining district of Wanlockhead/Leadhills (Dumfries and Galloway/South Lanarkshire), Mary’s Mine/Tonderghie (Dumfries and Galloway) and the Kilmartin Copper Mine (Argyll and Bute). Around Bridge of Allan in the Ochill Hills are several copper outcrops where the late medieval Airthrey Hill Mine spoil heaps (Stirling) are easily accessible and still contain a good quantity of copper ores. In Argyll and Bute the mining remains of Abhain Strathain/Meall Mor, at Kilfinan (Murder Lode) and Castleton/Castletown (SE of Lochgilphead) revealed good ‘grey copper ores’, especially at Castleton where the mineralised vein outcrops are easily seen on the shore. In addition the 2012 survey discovered another ore vein along Kilmartin Glen, at the Duntroon Hillfort. The mineralisation is very interesting because of its proximity to numerous archaeological sites.

Further investigation is planned in the area and on other old mining sites in Scotland for 2013. A collection of ore samples has been stored at the National Museums of Scotland, which will hopefully be enlarged in the future to provide a reliable database for investigations, such as the comparison of trace element and lead-isotope ratios in the samples with those found in prehistoric metal objects.

Archive: National Museums of Scotland

Funder: German Archaeological Institute, Department Rome

Daniel Steiniger, German Archaeological Institute, Department Rome


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