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A later Bronze Age copper mine in south-west Ireland

William O’Brien
Publication Year:
232 pages. Illustrated throughout in black and white and colour. 154 figures and 18 tables.
BAR number:


Derrycarhoon is the first copper mine from the later Bronze Age discovered in Ireland. This book presents the results of recent geoarchaeological survey and sample excavation of a small multi-period mine, with details of landscape setting, bedrock geology, mineralisation and palaeoecology. The recent history of mining and prospection at Derrycarhoon is examined, including the discovery in 1846 of so-called ‘Danish Mines’, now dated c.1300-1000 BC. The technology and operation of that prehistoric copper mine is considered, as well as its significance for the supply of metal in later Bronze Age Ireland. The wider context is explored in relation to Bronze Age settlement in the region, with reference to ritual monuments and religious beliefs of the mining community. That local landscape of small farming communities was connected to trade networks at regional level, controlled by emerging hillfort chiefdoms at a time of growing militarism and pressures on metal supply in Ireland.

William O'Brien is Professor of Archaeology in University College Cork. His research interests focus on the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age in Ireland, and early mining in Atlantic Europe. Previous books include studies of the Mount Gabriel and Ross Island mines in south-west Ireland, and a survey of prehistoric copper mining in Europe published in 2015.

‘Gaining an understanding of the indigenous Derrycarhoon copper mine against a backdrop of continental copper imports is invaluable. Despite the mine’s small size the fascinating archaeological evidence produced makes an important contribution to our understanding of Bronze Age copper mining and its broader context in the landscape. This work can be regarded as a model for the study of any prehistoric mining site.’ Dr Alan Williams, University of Durham

‘The project draws on an impressive range of historic, archaeological, and environmental sources and methods. It is a model example of a holistic, landscape study. Researchers will come to this volume for both the empirical research and its thoughtful consideration of later Bronze Age mining, metalwork supply and exchange, and the political economy.’ Professor Bob Johnston, University of Sheffield

Introduction (S3069_OBrien_9781407359250_-_introduction.pdf, 2,033 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (S3069_OBrien_9781407359250_-_toc.pdf, 241 Kb) [Download]