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When and Why? The Chronology and Context of Flint Mining at Grime’s Graves, Norfolk, England

  • Frances Healy (a1), Peter Marshall (a2), Alex Bayliss (a2), Gordon Cook (a3), Christopher Bronk Ramsey (a4), Johannes van der Plicht (a5) and Elaine Dunbar (a4)...
Abstract

New radiocarbon dating and chronological modelling have refined understanding of the character and circumstances of flint mining at Grime’s Graves through time. The deepest, most complex galleried shafts were worked probably from the third quarter of the 27th century cal bc and are amongst the earliest on the site. Their use ended in the decades around 2400 cal bc, although the use of simple, shallow pits in the west of the site continued for perhaps another three centuries. The final use of galleried shafts coincides with the first evidence of Beaker pottery and copper metallurgy in Britain. After a gap of around half a millennium, flint mining at Grime’s Graves briefly resumed, probably from the middle of the 16th century cal bc to the middle of the 15th. These ‘primitive’ pits, as they were termed in the inter-war period, were worked using bone tools that can be paralleled in Early Bronze Age copper mines. Finally, the scale and intensity of Middle Bronze Age middening on the site is revealed, as it occurred over a period of probably no more than a few decades in the 14th century cal bc. The possibility of connections between metalworking at Grime’s Graves at this time and contemporary deposition of bronzes in the nearby Fens is discussed.

Quand et pourquoi?. Chronologie et contexte de l’extraction du silex à Grime’s Graves, Norfolk, Angleterre, de Frances Healy, Peter Marshall, Alex Bayliss, Gordon Cook, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Johannes van der Plicht et Elaine Dunbar

De nouvelles datations au 14C et de nouveaux modèles chronologiques ont affiné notre compréhension du carcactère et des circonstances de l’extraction du silex à Grime’s Graves à travers les âges. Les puits avec galeries les plus profonds et les plus complexes furent probablement exploités à partir du 3ème quart du 27ème siècle av. J.-C. cal, et sont parmi les plus anciens du site. Leur utilisation prit fin dans les décénnies autour de 2400 av.J.-C.cal bien que l’utilisation de simples fosses peu profondes dans la partie ouest du site continua pendant peut-être encore trois siècles. La dernière utilisation des puits à galeries coincide avec les premiers témoignages de poterie des peuples à vases et de métallurgie du cuivre en Grande-Bretagne. Après un laps de temps d’environ un demi-millénaire, l’exploitation du silex à Grime’s Graves reprit brièvement, probablement du milieu du 16ème siècle av. J.-C. cal au 15ème. Ces fosses ‘primitives’, terme sous lequel on les désignait dans l’entre deux guerres furent exploitées au moyen d’outils en os dont on retrouve les parallèles dans les mines de cuivre de l’âge du bronze ancien. Finalement sont révélées l’échelle et l’intensité du dépôt de déchets de l’âge du bronze moyen sur le site tel qu’il a eu lieu pendant une période qui n’a probablement pas dépassé quelques décennies au 14ème siècle av. J.-C. cal. La possibilité de liens entre la métallurgie à Grime’s Graves à cette époque et des dépôts contemporains de bronze dans les Fens proches est discutée.

Wann und warum? Chronologie und Kontext des Feuersteinbergbaus von Grime’s Graves, Norfolk, England, von Frances Healy, Peter Marshall, Alex Bayliss, Gordon Cook, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Johannes van der Plicht und Elaine Dunbar

Durch neue Radiokarbondaten und neue chronologische Modellierungen konnte unser Verständnis für Charakter und Gegebenheiten des Feuersteinbergbaus von Grime’s Graves über die Epochen hinweg vertieft werden. Die tiefsten und komplexesten Schächte wurden wahrscheinlich ab dem dritten Viertel des 27. Jahrhunderts cal bc angelegt und gehören zu den frühesten des Ortes. Ihre Nutzung endete in den Jahrzehnten um 2400 cal. bc, doch dauerte die Nutzung einfacher flacher Gruben im Westen des Fundplatzes noch für vielleicht drei Jahrhunderte an. Die letzte Nutzung der Schächte fällt mit den ersten Hinweisen auf Becherkeramik und Kupfermetallurgie in Großbritannien zusammen. Nach einer Unterbrechung von etwa einem halben Jahrtausend setzte der Abbau von Feuerstein in Grime’s Graves wieder für kurze Zeit ein, vermutlich von der Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts cal bc bis zur Mitte des 15. Jahrhunderts. Diese „primitiven“ Gruben, wie sie in der Zwischenkriegszeit genannt wurden, wurden mit Hilfe von Knochenwerkzeugen angelegt, die vergleichbar sind mit jenen, die auch in Kupferminen der Frühbronzezeit verwendet wurden. Schließlich werden Umfang und Intensität der mittelbronzezeitlichen Abfalldeponierung an diesem Platz aufgezeigt, die über eine Zeitspanne von wahrscheinlich nicht mehr als ein paar Jahrzehnten im 14. Jahrhundert cal bc praktiziert wurde. Außerdem wird die Möglichkeit von Zusammenhängen zwischen der Metallverarbeitung in Grime’s Graves in dieser Zeit und den zeitgleichen Deponierungen von Bronzeobjekten in den nahegelegenen Fens diskutiert.

¿Cuándo y por qué? La cronología y el contexto de la mina de sílex de Grime’s Graves, Nortfolk, Inglaterra, por Frances Healy, Peter Marshall, Alex Bayliss, Gordon Cook, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Johannes van der Plicht y Elaine Dunbar

Las nuevas dataciones radiocarbónicas y su modelización han refinado la comprensión de las características y circunstancias de las minas de extracción de sílex en Grime’s Grave a lo largo del tiempo. Las galerías más profundas y complejas se usaron posiblemente desde el tercer cuarto del siglo XXVII cal bc y se encuentran entre las más antiguas del yacimiento. Su uso finalizó en torno al 2400 cal bc, aunque la utilización de los pozos simples y poco profundos situados en el oeste del yacimiento se mantuvieron en uso durante quizá otros tres siglos. El uso final de la red de galerías coincide con las primeras evidencias de cerámica campaniforme y de la metalurgia del cobre en Gran Bretaña. Después de un intervalo de casi medio siglo, la extracción de sílex en las minas de sílex de Grime’s Grave se reanudó probablemente entre la mitad del siglo XVI y mediados del siglo XV. Estas fosas “primitivas”, como fueron denominadas durante el período de entreguerras, fueron realizadas mediante la utilización de herramientas de hueso que tienen paralelos en las minas de cobre del Bronce Antiguo. Finalmente, se presenta la escala y la intensidad del yacimiento del Bronce Medio, cuya cronología se extiende durante un período de no más que unas pocas décadas durante el siglo XIV cal bc. Por último, se discuten las posibles conexiones entre el trabajo de los metales en Grime’s Grave en este momento y el depósito coetáneo de bronce en las cercanías de Fens.

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Corresponding author: Frances Healy Email: HealyFM@cardiff.ac.uk
References
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Woodward, A. & Hunter, J. with Bukach, D., Needham, S. & Sheridan, A. 2015. Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods: An examination of ritual and dress equipment from Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age graves in England. Oxford: Oxbow Books
Yates, D.T. 2007. Land, Power and Prestige: Bronze Age field systems in southern England. Oxford: Oxbow Books
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Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
  • ISSN: 0079-497X
  • EISSN: 2050-2729
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-prehistoric-society
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