Trade Secrets

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Trade Secrets

Postby admin » 8:22 pm

Now that Mick's given his Glastonbury talk and with his blessing, some comments on Tin Exporting In Britain [phase 1] will be posted up from their hidey-hole on the Applied Epistemology site. Everybody is welcome to contribute their ingots' worth.

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Extract One

There is not much in the written sources about tin exporting in pre-historic Britain. A single reference is more or less all there is:

The inhabitants of that part of Britain which is called Belerion ... prepare the tin, working very carefully the earth in which it is produced. The ground is rocky but it contains earthy veins, the produce of which is ground down, smelted and purified. They beat the metal into masses shaped like knuckle-bones and carry it off to a certain island off Britain called Ictis.

During the ebb of the tide the intervening space is left dry and they carry over to the island the tin in abundance in their wagons ... Here then the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul, and after travelling overland for about thirty days, they finally bring their loads on horses to the mouth of the Rhone.


[Diodorus Siculus writing around 1 AD.
Wiki.]


Belerion is identified elsewhere by Diodorus as the western angle of triangular Britain (Cantium, ie Kent, being the eastern angle). Diodorus is clearly saying that the tin ingots are being produced where the tin ore (1) is being extracted and since transporting tin ore, as opposed to tin ingots, is prohibitively expensive in any age, this can be taken as a given.

Although Cornwall is exclusively associated with tin mining today, the ancient industry was rather more centred in neighbouring West Devon, especially around Dartmoor. In fact Dartmoor and the rest of the moors of the English West Country are the result of tin mining – or rather the deforestation of the countryside to provide fuel for the tin-smelting industry.

No doubt deforestation took place everywhere but only in areas of higher altitude, and therefore of greatest soil erosion, were the results permanent. Dartmoor, Exmoor, Bodmin Moor and the rest show, rather better than archaeology, where ancient tin mining (and smelting) took place. Belerion then can be considered as the entire western peninsula of Cornwall and West Devon and essentially co-extensive with the tin industry.

(1) Tin ore is just ‘rock’, the stuff miners dig out and bring to the surface. The tin, characteristically in flecks and veins and only making up at best a few per cent of the whole, can then be extracted by processing, ‘smelting’, the rock. Tin ingots, more or less pure tin, are the end product of the processing.
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby Mick Harper » 10:59 am

Thanks to Chad everybody can now view the entire one-hour Glastonbury Talk for free:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5NSDXL ... ring&pli=1

For reasons of diplomacy the talk was billed as 'The Megalithic Empire' although most of it was spent detailing a completely new (more revolutionary!) theory on the prehistoric tin trade from a sailing perspective.

Comments on this and of course the Cormorant Problem are welcome.

By the by, Tin Exporting in Ancient Britain is a deliberately downkey title. Suggestions for something racier are always welcome. [I am not allowed by AE regulations to define the object at the beginning of the project so bear that in mind.]
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby admin » 11:15 am

From Wile E. Coyote on the AEL site


There is not much in the written sources about tin exporting in pre-historic Britain. A single reference is more or less all there is:

The inhabitants of that part of Britain which is called Belerion ... prepare the tin, working very carefully the earth in which it is produced. The ground is rocky but it contains earthy veins, the produce of which is ground down, smelted and purified. They beat the metal into masses shaped like knuckle-bones and carry it off to a certain island off Britain called Ictis.

During the ebb of the tide the intervening space is left dry and they carry over to the island the tin in abundance in their wagons ... Here then the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul, and after travelling overland for about thirty days, they finally bring their loads on horses to the mouth of the Rhone
.

[Diodorus Siculus writing around 1 AD.
Wiki.]


When I reread this, I couldn't help thinking that

Ictis = The Cassiterides = Causewayed Islands

Diodorus is describing not a location but a process (the process of tin exporting). In reality he is describing the function of all causewayed islands through the fiction of a single isle.

Diodorus did not know where tin came from.

He had a roughish idea and he had also heard or read about the tin exporting process.

Ictis is his description of the tin exporting process on one imagined causewayed isle.

The Cassiterides are best understood as a multitude of causewayed isles, rather than the geographic "Islands" that your academics are searching for.

The Cassiterides can be understood as a group of imagined Ictus type isles. Causewayed islands are trading posts.

Causewayed islands=Cassiterides=Group of Ictus Isles=Tin exporting.

In fact Diodorus is simply describing everyday Megalithia.
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby Chad » 11:37 am

Burry Island in Portsmouth Harbour, Hampshire;
Burgh Island south of Plymouth, Devon

Interesting that these two have the same name.

Also, Barry Island (now joined to the mainland) in south Wales was a tidal island until about 150 years ago.

A common name suggests a common function.

Burry Holm on the Gower needs to be added. Very familiar shape!

Image

A barrow is an artificial mound.

So is there a connection to Burry / Barry / Burgh islands?
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby hvered » 12:15 pm

Barry Island, on the Welsh side of the Bristol Channel, was joined to the mainland but used to be a tidal island with a causeway or ‘causey’ visited and described by the sixteenth-century antiquarian John Leland.

Image

Barr is hill in Welsh, cf. barrow in English, though Barry is said to be named for St Baruc, an obscure hermit residing in a chapel on the island.

The island has a well and a quite dramatic blowhole "It is remarkable that, in a rock near the entrance of the island, there is a small cavity, to which, if the ear is applied, a noise is heard like that of smiths at work, the blowing of bellows, strokes of hammers, grinding of tools, and roaring of furnaces ; and it might easily be imagined that such noises, which are continued at the ebb and flow of the tides, were occasioned by the influx of the sea under the cavities of the rocks” [Gerald of Wales]
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby Chad » 2:39 pm

So if Burgh Island and St Michael's Mount were shifting tin... I wondered what was being shifted from Barry Island (which has the second largest tidal range on Earth) and Burry Holm.

South Wales is known for its coal and iron ore mining (and the Romans supposedly mined lead in the area) but I couldn't find any reference to other metal workings. However, Cwmafan (midway between the two said tidal islands) was, until recent times, the copper refining capital of the world... producing almost half the global output.

It is stated that Cwmafan reached its pre-eminence due to the availability of locally mined coal (needed in the smelting process)... it being cheaper to transport copper ore to a coal mining area, than to transport the amount of coal needed to a copper mining area.

This was all a bit disappointing, until I discovered that there is a housing estate in Cwmafan built on land known locally as “Copper Mines”.

So the Copper Works was probably sited there originally to take advantage of the local expertise gained from smelting and refining local copper... and only later, as the enterprise boomed, did they have to import copper ore.

Turns out there are quite a few disused mines scattered throughout The Valleys now thought to be ancient copper and/or lead workings.

The intensity of modern industrial mining has probably all but obliterated any evidence of an ancient copper industry in the area.
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby Mick Harper » 4:24 pm

John Leyland writing in the sixteenth century re Barry Island:
At low water, there is a broken causey to go over, or els over the shalow streamelet of Barrey-brook on the sands..
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby Mick Harper » 4:25 pm

So if Burgh Island and St Michael's Mount were shifting tin... I wondered what was being shifted from Barry Island (which has the second largest tidal range on Earth) and Burry Holm.

Given that Mont St Michel is supposed to be the second largest and the Channel Islands are exceptionally large, the decision has to be made between
1. The Megalithics seek out areas with large tidal ranges
2. The Megalithics create large tidal ranges either deliberately or as a byproduct of their activities..

Though we haven't in truth solved why tidal range is important in the first place.
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby Mick Harper » 4:28 pm

This has occurred to me. From The Megalithic Empire

Brough, or Petuaria (1) as it was known, is the terminus of Ermine Street (= Hermes straight) and therefore a suitable place to honour the patron goddess of roads. Petuaria was the historic capital of the Parisii and lies almost exactly on the meridian.

(1) Petuaria from pedwar means ‘fourth’ or ‘quarter’ as with the French quartier, i.e. a borough or Brough
.

We have discussed the orign of 'burghs' quite a lot without coming to a conclusion save that the orthodox explanation is inadequate. For sure it has to with trade.

By the way Portsmouth Harbour is itself only one of a series of astounding 'Grande Havres' that line the central south coast ie vast anchorages the like of which are not duplicated elsewhere in the world as far as I know. Someone should get on to these.
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Re: Trade Secrets

Postby Chad » 8:20 am

Whenever you discover an interesting tidal island you are sure to find a Megalithic commodity nearby that needs transporting.

Take Chapel Island near Ulverston for instance:

Image

Image

North of which you will find ancient copper mines at Coniston.

Very conveniently the waters of Coniston flow into the sea at Ulverston, making transportation very easy.

And just to round things off… here is a convenient stone circle (overlooking the island) to guide you overland.

Image
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