During the 19th century studies of ostracods of the British Carboniferous were promoted by the extraction of coal, iron and other minerals. As described in more detail later, this was a period of great activity resulting in numerous publications concerned with ostracod taxonomy but few with stratigraphic applications.
Despite renewed economic importance of the Carboniferous in the latter part of the 20th century resulting from the exploration for oil and gas, further publication on British Carboniferous ostracod faunas was rather limited as the biostratigraphic application of other groups (miospores, foraminifera and conodonts) gained precedence. Compared to some other Periods, ostracods have consequently played a fairly insignificant role in industrial biostratigraphy in the Carboniferous.
The most significant work towards the end on the century was by Robinson (1978a), in a forerunner to this publication. That account stands out as a work of importance in our understanding of British Carboniferous ostracod faunas. In the present chapter we have drawn heavily upon Robinson's work but expanded its scope by including entomozoids from the Courceyan marine basin facies and Westphalian species from non-marine deposits and marine bands. We hope, therefore, the result will be a useful synthesis of our knowledge of British Carboniferous ostracods as it stands at the beginning of the 21st century, even though there is still considerable scope for future work in the fields of taxonomy, palaeoecology and stratigraphy.