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Did the Romans engineer and run this industry any different (apart from the possible introduction of slave labour?) to their tribal predecessors and, especially given the lack of Roman 'presence' in Cornwall as a whole, is it a possibility that the industry was officially 'subbed out' to the existing controlling tribes/families with only a minimal local Roman army control until the raw material reached the nearest port for transhipment ?

Any thoughts gratefully recieved.

Romanonick/Nick Deacon.
Welcome to a fellow Cornishman.

Some old miners believe it was the Romans who first went underground for tin, rather than using alluvial deposits, but a 14/15th century date is probably safer.

The Romans certainly seem to be tin streaming at Boscarne and Restormal.

The tradition of marking out Tin Bounds is believed to be post Roman, but who can say:-)

Some suggested that the position of Nantallon Roman camp in a damp river valley was in part due to Alder trees that grow in such conditions. Alder makes excellent charcoal, and I understand that the relative amount of metallurgy in an area can be traced by Alder pollen in soil samples.

The Romans certainly introduce an alternative cash economy.
What was the pre Roman trade in tin with the mainland? Purely trade in goods in return for the tin?
Did the natives perhaps demand bronze goods in return? The end product of tin? But the copper needed was also mined in Britain....
What other uses did the rRomans put tin to, aside from lining cooking vessels and tinning other metal objects?

Sorry no answers just more questions..
Quote:What other uses did the Romans put tin to, aside from lining cooking vessels and tinning other metal objects?
Bronze = copper + tin. No tin, no helmets (well ... fewer), no diplomas, no dangly bits on your horse harness, ... but I guess you realised that. :wink:
Yes, I was jumping too far past the use of bronze as armour and weapons. Obviously, they were still doing bronze as statues etc. :roll:
Yes indeed, Cornwall is the centre of the universe.

Of course you could use antler for dangly bits on horse harness.
MacGregor A. (1985) Bone Antler Ivory and Horn (Beckenham 1985), page 107.
One for the mulling pot......

I can't remember where I saw this but there has been a claim that a certain Nobilis Decurio named Joseph of Arimathea had an early post-invasion controlling interest in the tin and lead mines of west Britain :? lol: !) does this suggest that the Roman state were quite prepared to leave the nuts and bolts of such operations to proven contenders who could recognise a profit factor?

In another source (possibly Salway) it is claimed that the mineral wealth of Cornwall and Devon remained secondary ( and somewhat of an open secret) until the prime centres in Spain were lost through barbarian incursion.

Would tin find greater use in the production of coinage - especially as degrading increased with sucessive devaluations?

I'm assuming that tin continued to be used for the production of ornamental products and trinkets (our version of the gift trade!) and personal effects such as
amulets, necklaces, rings, trappings for horses etc, etc.

Sorry, this topic seems to be wandering off the military history forum!!!
Quote:... there has been a claim that a certain Nobilis Decurio named Joseph of Arimathea had an early post-invasion controlling interest in the tin and lead mines of west Britain :? . (was this THE Joseph - the well known wealthy and influential claimant of the body of J of N ?)
Oh dear, I think we are in Holy Grail territory!

Quote:Would tin find greater use in the production of coinage - especially as degrading increased with sucessive devaluations?
As far as I know, the aes coinage was copper + zinc. No tin. As far as I know ...
As yet another Cornishman I thought I might pitch in on this one. Until recently Cornwall seemed to have only a minimal Roman military presence with the single Auxiliary fort at Nanstallon, but recently two more have been found, one at Calstock and one near Restormel Castle (although the latter seems to more of a great big fortlet) - so who knows how many more are there to be found. It might also be significant that in the early years of the occupation the Romans stationed Legion II Augusta at (what is now) Exeter for around twenty-five years (50 - 75 AD). The local Dumnonii tribe of Devon and Cornwall, who's land the fortress sits in the middle of, is not generally though by most experts to be one of the two powerful, war-like tribes that II Augusta and Vespasian, its commander in the early years of the invasion, had to suppress, so if they were not, why station a quarter of the invasion force's legionary strength there for twenty-five years? Is it possible that it had more to do with establishing control over the mineral deposits of the South West? Exeter sits neatly between the lead mines of the Mendip Hills (where there is evidence of Roman control from 49AD), the iron mines of Exmoor (where there is evidence of early post invasion Roman control) and of course Cornwall and its tin. The Romans certainly seem to be aware of Cornish tin long before they invaded - Diodorus Siculus' 1st C BC description of the peninsula of Belerion its people and its tin is almost certainly West Cornwall, and it is likely that there was pre-invasion trade. Tin of course is not the only thing that Cornwall has to offer. Cornwall is famous for tin because, until the huge open-cast mines of Australia and the far-east where opened up in more modern times, tin is a fairly scarce mineral not found in that many places in the world, certainly not in the ancient one. You need tin of course to make bronze. The other metal needed is copper, and in Cornwall, along with tin, you are almost tripping over both (in its mining history, Cornwall actually produced far more copper than it ever did tin); it might well have been handy for the Romans to have both of these ingredience in the same place. Cornwall also has significant deposits of lead, and often with it silver, and iron. It is probably significant that the fort at Nanstallon showed evidence of silver working on site, and it was positioned not far from two tins mines that were known to be working in Roman times, and it might also be more than a coinsidense that the fort at Restormel is only a few hundred metres from a big iron deposit that was certainly being worked at least as far back as medievael times. All this might mean that Cornwall and its minerals were very important to the Romans, and in fact there was a significant Roman presence there - we just have not found it yet. As for who was controlling the mines, it seems that under the emperors, most mines came under their direct control, especially silver, gold and iron mines. They appointed Procurators to oversee and run the mines. There is no reason to think that this would have been any different in Cornwall unless (and this is really only a thought) the Romans were friendly enough with the Cornish through pre-invasion trade that they appointed local pro-Roman big-wigs as procurators for the mines.
Thanks John and Olymartin,

There's much more to Roman Cornwall than meets the eye (literally!) - but reasonable 'qualified' speculation based on infinitesimal (but growing!) evidence is as good as it gets for now. Perhaps progression along a likely road route from the far west will throw up more finds in due course which may put more flesh on the bare bones.
Also, the solitary (so far!) villa site in Cornwall excavated in the 1930's at Illogan has been suggested as being the administrative centre for the area's mineral trade and been dated to the 2nd century, continuing in use until the 4th. It has also been suggested that it was built by a local 'bigwig' Brit who had connections to the area's mineral activity and, not without reason, aspired to the Roman way of life. More speculation! ... fault.aspx
Tin in its own right is a material prone to fairly rapid corrosion, so the lack of tin objects in the archeological database could also be attributed to the fact that few artifacts made it through time but crumbled to powder. However, secondary tinning of copper objects is well known. Tin is a wonderfull metal for casting and in later times was very desirable, why would/could this not have been true in Roman times, one wonders. Still, for lack of evidence, this is one for much more research, it would seem.