Outcrops of metallic mineralization were potentially prominent locations in past landscapes, the characteristics of their constituent minerals granting them distinctive appearances and properties. To date, most treatments have cast humans as exploiters whose prime motivation for engagement with the mineral world was the acquisition of metals. This article examines new evidence for Early Bronze Age activity at Roman Lode, a predominantly iron-rich ore deposit on Exmoor in southwest Britain. In addition to assessing whether this represents metal exploitation, other interpretive avenues are explored including the potential role of the site as a provider of other resources such as pigments and quartz and as an element in a wider conceptual and physical landscape. A layered approach to the interpretation of such sites is advocated. Only by combining a cognitive interpretation with materialist perspectives will we arrive at a more insightful understanding of the past significance of minerals, mining and landscape.
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