Project website launch highlights the role of Britain’s tin deposits in enabling the Bronze Age in Europe.

Published on

Image of Bronze Age coastal site
Photograph by Alan Williams - Project Ancient Tin. Tin mines on the Cornish Coast.

Project Ancient Tin has launched its website and has already received thousands of visits - This Leverhulme-funded archaeological project is led by Dr Ben Roberts at Durham University with co-investigator Dr Matthew Ponting at the University of Liverpool. The post-doctoral researcher is Dr Alan Williams, who obtained his PhD from the University of Liverpool in 2018.
Recent discoveries from ancient DNA revealed that the Bronze Age in Britain (c. 2500-800 BC) began with a major population replacement from continental Europe. A remarkable change occurred in c. 2100 BC when Britain and Ireland were the first regions in Europe to completely switch over from copper to the far harder bronze (typically 10% tin, 90% copper) for their tools and weapons. This change spread across the rest of Bronze Age Europe and the Mediterranean over the following centuries.
Tin to make bronze was scarce but Britain possessed the richest deposits in Europe and there has long been speculation that Britain traded tin across the continent and even supplied Bronze Age civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean. The project  will ‘fingerprint’ chemically and isotopically tin ores collected across southwest England and tin metal artefacts from museums.

Alan Williams commented: 

The new website illustrates all aspects of this exciting project for a general audience as we seek to answer the question: Did Britain’s exceptionally rich tin deposits in Cornwall and Devon make the European Bronze Age?