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Provenance of Coals from Roman Sites in England and Wales

  • A.H.V. Smith (a1)

Coal has been widely reported from excavations of the Roman period. Although there are few contemporary accounts of its use by the Romans, it is obvious from the contexts of the finds that it was used for a variety of purposes having been recovered in association with, for example, metal-working activities, hypocausts, and a cremation pyre. Archaeologists have been interested in the economic aspects of coal as a fuel and in particular the provenance of the coals in order to reveal the existence of trade routes and the distances involved in its transport.

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1 Dearne, M.J. and Branigan, K., ‘The use of coal in Roman Britain’, Antiq. Journ. lxxv (1995), 71105.

2 Webster, G., ‘A note on the use of coal in Roman Britain’, Antiq. Journ. xxxv (1955), 199217.

3 op. cit. (note 1).

4 op. cit. (note 2).

5 Teichmüller, M., ‘Organic petrology in the service of archaeology’, Int. J. Coal Geology xx (1992), 121.

6 Smith, A.H.V., ‘Provenance of coals from Roman sites in U.K. counties bordering River Severn and its Estuary and including Wiltshire’, J. Arch. Sc. xxiii (1996), 373–89.

7 op. cit. (note 2).

8 Smith, op. cit. (note 6).

9 op. cit. (note 1).

10 op. cit. (note 2).

11 op. cit. (note 1).

12 A.H.V. Smith and M.A. Butterworth, ‘Miospores in the coal seams of the Carboniferous of Great Britain’, Palaeontology, Spec, paper No. 1 (1967), 324.

13 Smith, A.H.V., ‘Stratigraphic ranges of selected miospores in coal seams of Upper Coal Measures age in Oxfordshire and S.E. Warwickshire’, Journ. Micropalaeontology vi (1987), 2137.

14 op. cit. (note 6).

15 National Coal Board, The Coalfields of Great Britain: Variation in Rank of Coal (1960).

16 op. cit. (note 2).

17 op. cit. (note 1).

18 For Dearne and Branigan see note 1; for Webster see note 2.

19 op. cit. (note 1). Notes 20-47 refer to unpublished reports.

20 A.H.V. Smith, ‘Provenance of coal from Roman fort at Vindolanda, Northumberland’, Report to Vindolanda Trust (1995).

21 R. Neves and G. Clayton, ‘A report on the palynological dating of coal samples from certain archaeological sites in England’, Report to Ancient Monuments Laboratory (1972).

22 ibid.

23 A.H.V. Smith, ‘Source of coals from Roma n site at Castleford’, NCB Yorkshire Regional Laboratory Report No. 4760 dated 28/3/1975.

24 A.H.V. Smith, ‘Roman coals from Rossington Bridge near Doncaster’, NCB Coal Survey Laboratory Report No. 3331 dated 30/11/1961.

25 A.H.V. Smith, ‘Examination of coal and slag samples from archaeological excavations near Worksop’, NCB Yorkshire Regional Laboratory Report No. 12030 dated 1/2/1980.

26 A.H.V. Smith, ‘Provenance of coals from sites in Lincoln’, Report to Lincoln Archaeological Trust (1995).

27 A.H.V. Smith, NCB Yorkshire Regional Laboratory, letter to Ancient Monuments Laboratory dated 13/6/1977.

28 P.E. Harrison, ‘Analysis of coal from late third-century fill of? boundary ditch of native farmstead at Irby, Wirral’, British Coal Corporation, Stanhope Bretby, Report.

2 ‘A.H.V. Smith, British Coal Corporation, letter to R. Goodburn dated 8/5/1987.

30 Neves and Clayton, op. cit. (note 21).

31 ibid.

32 P.D. Spriggs, ‘Provenance of coal from a Romano-British site at Sapperton, Lincolnshire’, NCB Yorkshire Regional Laboratory, Report No. 17399 dated 8/5/1987.

33 E. Bradburn, ‘Report on a sample of coal from a Romano-British site at Willoughby-on-the-Wolds’, NC B Coal Survey Laboratory Sheffield Report dated 17/12/1965.

34 Neves and Clayton, op. cit. (note 21).

35 ibid.

36 ibid.

37 ibid.

38 ibid.

39 ibid.

40 ibid.

41 A.H.V. Smith, ‘Provenance of coals from Roman site at Birch Abbey near Alcester’, British Coal Corporation Report to S. Cracknell, Warwickshire Museum, dated Oct. 1989.

42 Neves and Clayton, op. cit. (note 21).

43 ibid.

44 A.H.V. Smith, ‘Age and possible source of coals from Romano-British sites, N. Kent’, NCB Coal Survey Laboratory Sheffield Report dated May 1968.

45 ibid.

46 Neves and Clayton, op. cit. (note 21).

47 ibid.

48 British Standards, BS 6127 Petrographic analysis of bituminous coal and anthracite. Part 2. Method of Preparing Coal Samples for Petrographic Analysis (1982).

49 op. cit. (note 12).

50 op. cit. (note 2).

51 ibid.

52 Pers. comm.

53 G. Lister, Chronological Records ofCoal Mining, Transport etc. in Northumberland and Durham from a.d. 1180 to 1839 (1944), 35.

54 R.L. Galloway, A History of Coalmining in Great Britain (1969).

55 A. Trueman, The Coalfields of Great Britain (1969).

56 C. Fox-Stangeways, Geology of Country between Atherstone and Charnwood Forest, Mem. geol. surv. Gt Br. (1900).

57 op. cit. (note 2).

58 Simmons, B.B., ‘The Lincolnshire Car Dyke’, Britannia x (1979), 183–96.

59 Smith, op. cit. (note 6).

60 National Coal Board, op. cit. (note 15).

61 F.M. Trotter, Geology of Forest of Dean Coal and Iron-ore Field, Mem. geol. surv. Gt Br. (1942).

62 Adams, H.F., Bradburn, E. and Boon, G.C., ‘Coal from the legionary fortress of Caerleon, Monmouthshire’, Geological Magazine cii (1965), 469–73.

63 Smith, op. cit. (note 6).

64 ibid.

65 ibid.

66 op. cit. (note 2).

67 M. Jones, pers. comm.

68 op. cit. (note 2).

69 Pers. comm.

70 op. cit. (note 2).

71 op. cit. (note 1).

72 ibid.

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