The laser ablation ICP-MS transect of a speleothem from GB Cave, close to Charterhouse, Mendip Hills, UK, records Pb variations over the past 5ka. The speleothem record correlates well with the known historical record of lead mining in the district, the principal features of which include: the Roman lead mining peak; the Dark Ages cessation; gradual, episodic revival up to the late 16th century peak; the 17th century collapse and subsequent recovery; and the final short-lived burst at the end of the 19th century. This correlation supports the assumption that the pre-Roman lead record also derives from local mining. Thus, this record is the first example of quantifying ancient human mining activity through trace element signature of a speleothem. This record also provides the first solid evidence of significant pre-Roman mining activity in the Charterhouse region, and the first solid dating of that activity. This pre-Roman mining can be divided into three main peaks dated to 1800-1500 bc, 1100-800 bc and 350-0 bc.

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Keywords Britain, Bronze age, Cave, Laser ablation, Lead, Mining, Speleothem
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Journal Archaeometry
Mcfarlane, D.A., Lundberg, J, & Neff, H. (2014). A speleothem record of early british and roman mining at Charterhouse, Mendip, England. Archaeometry, 56(3), 431–443. doi:10.1111/arcm.12025