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Copper in the Early Modern Period. A Comparative Study of Work and Everyday Life in Falun and Røros

This project explores life and work at Scandinavia’s two largest copper mines, Røros and Falun, in the early modern period from micro and global perspectives.

From Røros in 1821 Smelting works operating. From Malmplassen at Røros in 1821. Painter: Jacob Petersen, Bygdø Kongsgård. Photo: Lars Geithe

About the project

This project seeks to further our knowledge of copper production in Scandinavia in the early modern period. We bring to the analysis a combination of two important developments in history writing - global history and practice oriented studies - to tell the stories of Scandinavia's two largest copper mines, Falun and Røros. A global perspective is required since the mines were linked to each other and to markets, ideas and movements far beyond the region.

A central question is how Falun and Røros tackled the new circumstances that developed from the early 18th century when the world market for copper changed and a new production centre at Swansea in Wales rapidly developed? To this macro perspective we add a micro-history perspective. We aim to make a detailed study of life and work at the mines and examine local production against the background of global developments in metallurgy.

Objectives

The aim of this project is to make a renewed analysis of Scandinavian copper production in the early-modern period, against the background of global developments in metallurgy. The rationale for this is the fact that most of the earlier studies are very old. Heckscher's path-breaking research in the field is almost 75 years old and the most thorough study of Norwegian copper production at Røros was published in the 1940s. The ambition here is to combine two recent trends in history writing to tell the story of Scandinavia's largest copper mines, that of global history and that of practice-oriented studies. The former tradition has, ever since its appearance some two decades ago been equated with "comparisons and connections", and this project builds upon both.

The project begins with a comparison of the Falun mines in Sweden and the Norwegian mines at Røros. Connections are, however, seldom out of sight. We know that the two mines were linked to each other, but they also had contacts that stretched much further afield; on the one hand, Scandinavian copper was sold on a world market, and on the other hand, people and ideas also circulated globally.

A central question is how Falun and Røros tackled the new circumstances that developed from the early 18th century when the world market for copper changed and a new production centre at Swansea in Wales rapidly developed? It is fair to say that global history is written from a macro perspective, but in recent years "communities" has been added to the "com & con" perspective. This development is to a large extent related to discussions about "practice", and about how concrete people did what they did, as well as to the recent resurgence of the tradition of "micro-history". This project will draw also on these related approaches. An important ambition is to link people (miners as well as mining administrators) in their practice and everyday life to historical change, connecting the local to global trends.

Duration

From autumn 2015 to autumn 2018

Financing

The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway.

Cooperation

This is a joint project by the University of Oslo and the University of Uppsala. Collaborating partners include the University of South Wales.

 

Published Dec. 18, 2015 10:04 AM - Last modified Aug. 19, 2016 2:38 PM