Compelling evidence of lead mining in Anglezarke‐Rivington shows predicted spikes in the Heavy Metals Assay and the Saturated Isothermal Remanent Magnetism (SIRM) of radio-carbon dated peat bog sections. The results appear to show spikes corresponding to the times when lead smelting was active.
Additionally, the presence of galena crystal over the Collared Urns* of two Early Bronze Age individuals seems to confirm that the site was active by at least 1800 B.C. To Barrowclough, this suggests an association between these individuals and the mines.
|Lead Mines in Lancashire|
These finds continue to show the sophistication of the metalworking craft that came to the Isles in the second half of the third millennium. The spikes also show what may be a fairly significant lead smelting industry. If the individuals associated with the galena specialized in a lead extraction operation, then it certainly indicates that lead was widely used for something.
As Barrowclough mentions in this paper, it's easy to become ensnared in viewing ancient metallurgy through the warped lens of periodization. Lead has an ancient history and surprising uses.
What could lead have use for in the Early Bronze Age?
Lead sulfide (galena) can be used to make domestic pottery glaze which is honey-colored but can also be made, orange, copper or red. Lead was also used in cosmetics, paints and sweeteners?!
The Earliest Evidence for Lead Extraction in Northern Europe and Possible Lead Miners’ Burials: Early Bronze Age Lead Mining dated to the Second Millennium BC. David Barrowclough, University of Cambridge (undated) [Link]
*Collared Urns and Food Vessels probably developed from interaction between Bell Beakers and the native Peterborough. Both retain the somewhat older Beaker motifs and develop alongside the lagging Beakers.