The Oldest Industry
Mining and quarrying have been a major social and economic force throughout history.
The use of stone tools is as old as humanity, if not older. During later prehistory, the use of other mineral resources (e.g. clay and metals) for tools, weapons and ornaments developed. These increasingly supplemented, and in some circumstances superseded, the use of stone and organic materials such as wood and bone. The use of stone as a durable building material also became more common.
The writings of several classical authors indicate that the control of mineral wealth may have been a significant motive for the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43.
For tin, lead and silver, production was at its greatest during the medieval and post-medieval periods. It is in these periods that some of England’s most spectacular extractive landscapes have their origins.
The Development of Britain's manufacturing industry
The exploitation of mineral resources and allied technological innovation were fundamental to the early development of Britain’s manufacturing industry during the Industrial Revolution. This transformation significantly influenced the developing relationship between town and country.
Mining and quarrying were carried out either in the countryside or on the urban fringes. The most lucrative markets developed in the nation’s towns and cities. The widespread use of stone, brick and other materials for building made a major contribution to the character and local distinctiveness of the historic environment we enjoy today.
In recent years our understanding of historic mining and quarrying sites, landscapes and their associated infrastructure has developed rapidly. This is linked to a growing interest in the archaeology of industry. The contribution of voluntary-sector special-interest groups has been an important factor in this development.