Roman lead-silver mining on the Lüderich

Roman lead-silver mining on the Lüderich

The Lüderich – mining in the border region

Roman troops exploited various raw materials on the other side of the Limes – such as lead ores from the Lüderich mountain near Overath in the Bergisches Land. The mine is about 15 km east of the Rhine as the crow flies, so about one day’s march. Roman miners extracted lead ore here in the Augustan-Tiberian period (in the 1st/2nd decade AD).

Between 2000 and 2005 we carried out excavations in collaboration with the Overath branch of the Rheinisches Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege, and uncovered parts of the mining area and the associated smelting sites. We discovered shafts with round apertures, sunk relatively close to one another. Most of them were about 8 m deep and reached the ore-bearing layers. This enabled us to prove that the Romans had used shafts to exploit the ore deposit. The ores extracted in this way were smelted on site, in the immediate proximity of the shafts: foundations of nine furnaces were found close together on a flat piece of land, directly beside a sometimes dry watercourse. The finds showed that the Romans not only extracted lead, but also the silver contained in the lead; this is proven by what is known as Bleiglätteröhrchen (lead oxide tubes), waste products of cupellation, i.e. the separation of lead and silver.
Numerous pits and postholes containing remnants of metallurgical activities were able to be uncovered in the immediate vicinity of the mine. The actual settlement will have been in the adjoining area; however, the site was severely disturbed or covered over with waste heaps as a result of medieval and modern mining.


Project manager

Dr. Gabriele Körlin

Project body

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

Funding

Wilhelm-Mommertz-Stiftung

Beteiligung des Rhein. Amtes f. Bodendenkmalpflege, Denkmalförderprogramm des Landschaftsverbandes Rheinland

Ministerium für Städtebau und Wohnen, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

Collaborators

Rhein. Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege, Außenstelle Overath/M. Gechter

Duration

completed

Abschlusspublikation in Vorbereitung



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