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Abstract

The role of tin mining in the society of prehistoric Dartmoor and its impact on the local landscape have long been discussed despite equivocal evidence for prehistoric mine sites. A fluvial geomorphological approach, using floodplain stratigraphy, combined with sediment geochemistry and mineralogy, was employed to identify prehistoric tin mining at the catchment scale. Waste sediment, released during hydraulic mining of alluvial tin deposits, caused downstream floodplain aggradation of sands with a diagnostic signature of elevated Sn concentration within the silt fraction. At a palaeochannel site in the Erme Valley, sediment aggradation buried datable peat deposits. A period of aggradation postdating cal. A.D. 1288–1389 is consistent with the 13th century peak in tin production identified in the documentary record. An earlier phase of aggradation, however, occurred between the 4th and 7th centuries A.D., providing evidence of late Roman or early Post Roman tin mining activity on Dartmoor. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.