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Re: Trade Secrets

PostPosted: 8:52 pm
by Boreades
After enduring years and years of ortho-archeos telling us everything they find is "high status elite ritual" stuff, even when they find it in the village midden, it came as a bit of a surprise to find these archeos daring to say something quite different.

The discovery of 373 intact and broken tin-bronze socketed axes accompanied by 404 fragments in four pits at Langton Matravers collectively represents one of the largest hoards found to date in prehistoric Britain and Ireland.

So far so good. Were they any good, these axes?

They were very probably never meant to be used as axes as the very high levels of tin they contain would have made them brittle. Many were poorly finished, with the majority still containing their casting cores.

Oh. Seems strange, were these early axes? From when they were still figuring out how much tin to use?

The axes are typologically dated to the Llyn Fawr metalwork phase (c.800–600 BC) and span the Bronze Age/Iron Age transition, when the production, circulation and deposition of bronze appear to have been substantially reduced throughout north-west Europe.

Oh. Even stranger, the later the axes are made, the worse they are as axes. I've read the article twice, but can't find if the authors come up with any convincing explanation. If I understand their academic wanderings correctly, they are suggesting the trade in axes as a commodity collapsed, and they were dumped wholesale as scrap metal.

There is, however, one map in the article (of known hoard locations) that may be more relevant to TME than it is to them.


Ref : page 372 of the article, with numbered locations:

Finds of Llyn Fawr metalwork in Britain (after O’Connor 2007, Boughton submitted).1. King’s Weston Down (Bristol); 2. Bassingbourn (Cambridgeshire); 3. Quy Fen (Cambridgeshire); 4. Wicken Fen(Cambridgeshire); 5. Carn Brea (Cornwall); 6. Higher Roseworthy (Cornwall); 7. Mylor (Cornwall); 8. St Erth(Cornwall); 9. Skelmore Heads, Urswick (Cumbria); 10. ‘Ulverston’ (Cumbria); 11. Blandford (Dorset); 12.Eggardon Hill I (Dorset); 13. Eggardon Hill II (Dorset); 14. Langton Matravers (Dorset); 15. Portland (Dorset); 16.Thorney Down (Sixpenny Handley); 17. Puddleton (Dorset); 18. Weymouth (Dorset); 19. Preston Down, nrWeymouth (Dorset); 20. Terminus Rd, Eastbourne (East Sussex); 21. Danebury (Hampshire); 22. Nether Wallop(Hampshire); 23. New Forest (Hampshire); 24. nr Southampton (Hampshire); 25. Steephill, Ventnor (Isle of White);26. R Ribble, Clitheroe (Lancashire); 27. Cringleford (Norfolk); 28. East Rudham (Norfolk); 29. Syderstone(Norfolk); 30. Watton (Norfolk); 31. Tower Hill (Oxfordshire); 32. Compton Beauchamp (Oxfordshire); 33. WestRow, Mildenhall (Suffolk); 34. R. Thames, Kingston (Surrey); 35. Ferring (Sussex); 36. Sompting (Sussex); 37.Figheldean Down (Wiltshire); 38. Manton Copse (Wiltshire); 39. Hindon (Wiltshire); 40. Vale of Wardour(Wiltshire); 41. Salisbury, Netherhampton (Wiltshire); 42. Tillicoultry (Clackmannanshire); 43. La Mancha(Peeblesshire); 44. Poolewe, Gairloch (Ross & Cromarty); 45. Plas-yn-cefn (Denbighshire); 46. Cardiff II, Leckwith(Glamorgan); 47. Llyn Fawr, Rhigos (Glamorgan); 48. Chapel Hill, Tintern (Monmouth); 49. ‘South-West England’Group (not mapped); 50. Stockbury (Kent); 51. Melksham (Wiltshire); 52. Arreton (Isle of Wight); 53.Tisbury (Wiltshire)

Besides the obvious cluster in the Dorset & Wiltshire area (on routes still travelled), the outlying clusters reveal their own story. Either on the Greater Ridgeway heading towards Doggerland, or near ports and harbours.

Article Ref: ... ers_Dorset

Re: Trade Secrets

PostPosted: 5:10 pm
by Mick Harper
That was my immediate thought when I started reading your post. My second thought was that bronze would need to be traded in regular 'ingots' and what better method than using standard axe-head moulds for that purpose. They would, for example, stack rather neatly, each one reversed on top of another. The problem now is with the end-user on being presented with over-tinned bronze ingots.

Explanation one: when being worked for whatever the end-user actually wanted bronze for, the extra tin gets bashed out/refined out
Explanation two: the brittleness is only relevant if you are going to use the bronze for axes

Are there any bronze-smiths in the house? [Perhaps you might post this on the AEL under Recent Archaeological Discoveries since we are more likely to run into them there.]

PS There are a number of 'matravers' in Dorset. What are they all about?
PPS Nos 2, 3, 4, 33, 30 and 27 on your map are all along the Michael Line. What's that all about?

Re: Trade Secrets

PostPosted: 11:05 pm
by Boreades
I don't really think it's good enough to suppose that this was the British Leyland of its day.

We've always made them that way, it were good enough for me grandfather's grandfather...

On the other hand, if you are wholesaling a basic manufacturing raw material as a commodity to other manufacturers of retail items ...
Basic recipe: take one high-tin ingot, add the same weight of copper. Heat until molten, stir briskly, pour into your own molds. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Mick Harper wrote:PS There are a number of 'matravers' in Dorset. What are they all about?

Dunno. Haven't found anything definitive, except they are all on old pathways. As is the Matravers in Wiltshire.

Mick Harper wrote:PPS Nos 2, 3, 4, 33, 30 and 27 on your map are all along the Michael Line. What's that all about?

As before:

Boreades wrote: on the Greater Ridgeway heading towards Doggerland, or near ports and harbours.

Re: Trade Secrets

PostPosted: 8:04 am
by Mick Harper
on the Greater Ridgeway heading towards Doggerland, or near ports and harbours.

Sorry, didn't notice that. But why would people be dropping off ingots en route? Fell off the back of a lorry doesn't seem likely in the circumstances. I suppose you might set up local foundries based on a passing trade but that doesn't seem likely either. Unless we are dealing with a full-blown Megalithic new technology corridor.