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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Publication details

Caple, Chris (1992). The Detection and Definition of an Industry; The English Medieval and Post Medieval Pin Industry. Archaeological Journal 148(1): 241-255.

Author(s) from Durham


The different ways in which industries are described and researched using historical or archaeological evidence are highlighted. The differing pictures which emerge for the production of small wound wire headed copper alloy pins in England the late- and post-medieval period are used to exemplify the problem. The historical records indicate a turbulent industry, with initially localized craft manufacture in English towns, being swamped from the sixteenth century by a wave of imports from the continent. However, the world's major pin producing industry was subsequently founded in organized semi-automated manufactories which evolved in England during the eighteenth century. This picture contrasts with the archaeological evidence of a slow typological development of the pin head form, and gradual reduction in the pin's metrical parameters. A similar gradual development is noted in the elemental composition of the copper alloy from which the pins were made. No archaeological evidence of imports is discernible, though the changes in manufacturing technique are clearly recorded. The need to evolve a more rounded picture of industries using a variety of forms of evidence is thus emphasized.

Department of Archaeology

Scottish Soldiers Project

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