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Material Genealogies: Bronze Moulds and their Castings in Later Bronze Age Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Leo Webley
  • Sophia Adams
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-3740
Number of pages18
JournalProceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Early online date27 Jul 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Feb 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2016
DatePublished (current) - 2016


Bivalve bronze moulds were used for casting bronze and lead objects – mainly axes – during the Middle and Late Bronze Age. These remarkable artefacts, which were sometimes beautifully decorated, have been surprisingly little studied. This paper discusses the bronze moulds from Britain, outlining the range of possibilities that existed for the life courses of these objects during the three broad stages of manufacture, use, and deposition. Two points will be emphasised. First, it will be shown that the biographical pathways available to bronze moulds differed significantly from those of moulds made from stone or clay, which may relate to the differing properties and conceptual associations of these three materials. Secondly, the relationships between the life courses of bronze moulds and the artefacts cast in them will be explored, focusing particularly on cases in which moulds and their castings were deposited together in the same hoard. It will be suggested that the ‘genealogical’ link between a mould and its ‘offspring’ could have formed a significant element of the biography of both objects.

    Research areas

  • Archaeometallurgy, artefact biographies, artefact genealogies, Bronze Age, bronze casting, hoards, lead casting, metalwork, moulds

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    Rights statement: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Cambridge University Press at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 440 KB, PDF document


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