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Geological Rock Sampling,Ross Island Mine


The Ross Island Project was established in 1992 by the National University of Ireland, Galway, to investigate the history and archaeology of metal-mining at this site. The research involved many specialists from Ireland and abroad, working in the fields of geology, archaeology and the environmental sciences. These investigations included a programme of archaeological survey and excavation that has shed much light on a unique mining landscape.

The initial focus of excavation was a large cave-like opening in the Western Mine area. Investigation here of broken rock deposits and discarded tools reveals the techniques used by the early miners. The discovery of an adjacent work camp provides an insight into the organisation of this activity and the production of copper metal. Radiocarbon dates now place the early phase of mining between 2400-1800 BC, making Ross Island the oldest copper mine presently known in Ireland or Britain.

Archaeological excavations,Ross Island Mine