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The Bronze Age

Domestic

Stone mirror mould, Canonbie

Period:
Bronze Age
Description:

A Bronze Age stone mould for a chisel and perhaps a small mirror, from Loophill near Canonbie. The object is composed of a slab of sandstone with two moulds carved into one surface. One is a narrow rectangular shape and the other is a circle with a short stem. These indentations may be for the making of a mirror and its handle. This object was found before 1931, was presented to Dumfries Museum by Capt. J G Milne Home on the 10th of March 1950.

 

The first metalwork


Metal working was a complex and lengthy process. A small pit was dug, filled with crushed ore and charcoal, and then ignited. The temperature was raised by using bellows, perhaps made of animal skin. Once smelting had occurred the molten metal collected in a crucible and tipped into the mould. After cooling the casting was removed and hammered to smooth any rough edges. Cutting edges on axe heads would have been sharpened by hammering or grinding. When stone moulds were in use shapes tended to be simple, but about 3,500 years ago multiple section clay moulds were developed which enabled more complicated shapes to be made.

 

Early Bronze Age metal workers used pure copper, but this made objects which were flexible in use and difficult to cast. After a period of experimentation, bronze, an alloy of 90 per cent copper and 10 per cent tin was developed. In Dumfries and Galloway most Bronze Age metalwork has been found on lowlands and in river valleys. The River Nith especially has revealed many finds, perhaps because traders and settlers used it to move between the Solway shores and Ayrshire.

Materials/Media:
Stone & Sandstone
Dimensions:
length: 240 mm width: 210 mm depth: 50 mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:1950.25.1
Digital Number:
RPD0110
RCAHMS site record:
Stone Mirror Mould
References:

COLES, John - "Bronze Age Metalwork in Dumfries and Galloway", TDGNHAS, 3rd series, Volume 42, p61-98, 1965