Great Copper Mountain (Stora Kopparberg) was a mine that operated for a millennium from the 10th century to 1992. It produced as much as two thirds of Europe's copper needs and helped fund many of Sweden's wars in the 17th century. Technological developments at the mine had a profound influence on mining globally for two centuries. Since 2001 it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a museum.
Archaeological and geological studies indicate, with considerable uncertainty, that mining operations started sometime around the year 1000. Objects from the 10th century have been found containing copper from the mine. In the beginning, operations were of a small scale, with local farmers gathering ore,smelting it, and using the metal for household needs. Around the time of Magnus III of Sweden, King of Sweden from 1275 to 1290, a more professional operation began to take place. Nobles and foreign merchants from Lübeck had taken over from farmers. The merchants transported and sold the copper in Europe, but also influenced the operations and developed the methods and technology used for mining. The first written document about the mine is from 1288. It records that, in exchange for an estate, the Bishop of Västerås acquired a 12.5% interest in the mine. By the mid 14th century, the mine had grown into a vital national resource and a large part of the revenues for the Swedish state in the coming centuries would be from the mine. The then King, Magnus IV of Sweden, visited the area personally and drafted a charter for mining operations, ensuring the financial interest of the sovereign.
In the 17th century, production capacity peaked. During this time, the output from the mine was used to fund expansionary politics of Sweden during its great power era. The Privy Council of Sweden referred to the mine as the nation's treasury and stronghold. The point of maximum production occurred in 1650, with over 3,000 tonnes of copper produced.
Copper production was declining during the 18th century and the mining company began diversifying. It supplemented the copper extraction with iron and timber production. In 1881 gold was discovered in the Great Copper Mountain, resulting in a short-lived gold rush. But there was no escaping the fact that the mine was no longer economically viable. On December 8, 1992 the last shot was fired in the mine and all commercial mining ceased. Today the mine is owned by the Stora Kopparberget foundation which operates the museum and tours.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.