|Neolithic flint Mine|
View of the floorstone visible in the public pit at Grime's Graves
|Region||East of England|
|Founded||Around 3000 BC to 1900 BC,|
|Owner||Managed by English Heritage|
|Visitation||Located 7 miles NorthWest of Thetford off A134 (1st to 31st March, 10am to 5pm, Except Tuesday and Wednesday|
1st April to 30th September, 10am to 6pm, every day
1st October to 31st October, 10am to 5pm, Except Tuesday and Wednesday)
Grimes Graves is a large Neolithic flint mining complex near Brandon in England close to the border between Norfolk and Suffolk. England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland The East of England is one of the nine official Regions of England. The Breckland as a landscape region is an unusual natural habitat of England. Brandon is a small Town and Civil parish in the English county of Suffolk. The Neolithic (from Greek νεολιθικός — neolithikos from νέος neos, "new" + λίθος lithos The Neolithic (from Greek νεολιθικός — neolithikos from νέος neos, "new" + λίθος lithos Flint (or flintstone) is a hard sedimentary Cryptocrystalline form of the Mineral Quartz, categorized as a variety of Chert Brandon is a small Town and Civil parish in the English county of Suffolk. England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland Norfolk (ˈnɔrfək is a low-lying county in East Anglia, England, United Kingdom. Suffolk (ˈsʌfək is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It was worked between around circa 3000 BC and circa 1900 BC, although production may have continued well into the bronze and iron ages (and later) owing to the low cost of flint compared with metals. The 30th century BC is a Century which lasted from the year 3000 BC to 2901 BC The 19th century BC was the century which lasted from 1900 BC to 1801 BC Flint (or flintstone) is a hard sedimentary Cryptocrystalline form of the Mineral Quartz, categorized as a variety of Chert Flint was much in demand for making stone axes in the Neolithic period. Chipped stone tools were made by Stone age peoples worldwide Paleolithic tools were relatively simple repeated small flakes being struck or pressed from a cobble The Neolithic (from Greek νεολιθικός — neolithikos from νέος neos, "new" + λίθος lithos Flint nodules were always in demand for other uses, such as for building and as strikers for muskets. A musket is a muzzle -loaded Smoothbore Long gun, which is intended to be fired from the shoulder
The scheduled monument extends over an area of some 37 ha (96 acres) and consists of at least 433 shafts dug into the natural chalk to reach seams of flint. Chalk (ʧɔːk is a soft white porous Sedimentary rock, a form of Limestone composed of the Mineral Calcite. The largest shafts are more than 14 m (40 feet) deep and 12 m in diameter at the surface. It has been calculated that more than 2,000 tonnes of chalk had to removed from the larger shafts, taking 20 people around five months, before stone of sufficient quality was reached. An upper 'topstone' and middle 'wallstone' seam of flint was dug through on the way to the deeper third 'floorstone' seam which most interested the miners.
In order to remove the chalk efficiently, the ancient miners built wooden platforms and ladders as they dug downwards and piled the spoil around the shaft opening using turf revetments to hold it in place for the season, when the shaft and all it's galleries were thoroughly and fastidiously backfilled to promote stability. The landscape around Grimes Graves has a characteristic pockmarked appearance caused by the infilled shafts. This is probably what inspired the later Saxon inhabitants of the area to name it after their god Grim (literally the masked, or hooded one, a euphemism for Woden). The Saxons or Saxon people were a Confederation of Old Germanic tribes. Wōden is a god in Anglo-Saxon paganism, together with Norse Odin representing a development of a Proto-Germanic god * Wōdanaz Although the pagan Anglo-saxons seem to have had some idea of what the site was, as the name of the site mean's literally 'The masked one's quarries,' (or Grim's Graben,) it wasn't until Canon William Greenwell excavated one of the shafts from 1868- 1870 that their purpose was discovered in modern times. Canon William Greenwell ( 23 March, 1820 &ndash 27 January, 1918) was an English Archaeologist. Other similar sites have been found in chalk or downland areas, such as at Cissbury and Spiennes in Belgium. Chalk (ʧɔːk is a soft white porous Sedimentary rock, a form of Limestone composed of the Mineral Calcite. A downland is an area of open Chalk Hills This term is especially used to describe the Chalk countryside in southern England. Cissbury is the name of a prehistoric site near the village of Findon around 5 miles north of Worthing in the English county of West Sussex Spiennes is a Walloon village in the municipality of Mons, Belgium. The Kingdom of Belgium is a Country in northwest Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts its headquarters as well as those
The miners used picks fashioned from the antler of red deer. The Red Deer ( Cervus elaphus) is one of the largest Deer species They probably used wooden shovels, although this is only inferred by analogy with other flint mines with better conditions for the preservation of artefacts. Analysis of the antlers (Clutton-Brock 1984: 25) has shown that the miners were mainly right-handed and favoured the left antlers out of those that were naturally shed seasonally by the deer. Curiously across the 28 pits excavated to date (2008)each has yielded an average of 142. 5 antler picks, of which an average of 14. 8 have been found to be left-handed.
Once they had reached the floorstone flint, the miners dug lateral galleries outwards from the bottom, following the flint seam. The medium-depth shafts yielded as much as 60 tons of flint nodules, which were brought to the surface and roughly worked into shape on site. The blank tools were then possibly traded elsewhere for final polishing. In Archaeology, a blank is a thick shaped stone Biface of suitable size and configuration for refining into a Stone tool. It is estimated that 60 tons of flint could have produced as many as 10,000 of the polished stone axes, which were the mines' main product. Chipped stone tools were made by Stone age peoples worldwide Paleolithic tools were relatively simple repeated small flakes being struck or pressed from a cobble Extrapolation across the site suggests that Grimes Graves may have produced around 16-18,000 tonnes of flint across the 433 shafts recorded to date. However, there are large areas of the site covered by later activity which are believed to conceal many more mineshafts.
There were other hard stones used for axe manufacture, those of the Langdale axe industry and Penmaenmawr in North Wales being traded across Europe, as well as other less well-known igneous and metamorphic rocks. The Langdale axe industry is the name given by archaeologists to the centre of a specialised Stone tool manufacturing at Great Langdale in England 's North Wales (Gogledd Cymru is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales, bordered to the south by Mid Wales and to the east by England. The axes were much in demand for forest clearance and settlement, development of farmland for arable crops and raising animals, which characterises the Neolithic period. The Neolithic (from Greek νεολιθικός — neolithikos from νέος neos, "new" + λίθος lithos
One unproductive shaft (pit 15) appears to have been turned into a shrine. The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric time period during which Humans widely used stone for toolmaking An altar of flint lumps had been built with a chalk bowl at its base and antler picks piled around. An altar is any structure upon which Sacrifices or other offerings are made for religious purposes or some other sacred place where ceremonies take place In front of the altar had been placed a Venus figurine of chalk, a chalk phallus and some balls, also of chalk. Venus figurines is an Umbrella term for a number of prehistoric Statuettes of women sharing common attributes (many depicted as apparently Obese It may have been an attempt to ensure that the mine remained productive or 'fertile' after this particular shaft turned out to have little flint in it. However, it is possible that the Venus figurine and the phallus are modern fakes – there is a lack of primary evidence surrounding their recovery in 1939, and rumours circulated at the time of the excavation that they were planted in order to deceive Leslie Armstrong, the archaeologist overseeing the dig. (Piggot 1986: 190, Longworth et al 1991: 103-105).
Such a large industry may have required supporting infrastructure. Assuming no more than two shafts were open at any one time, around 120 red deer may have needed to be bred and managed nearby, in order to provide a steady supply of antler as well as skin, food and other products that the miners would require. Alternatively, the mines may have been worked intermittently by local farmers, as happened in many early metal mines during the Bronze Age and the later Iron Age. The term Bronze Age refers to a period in human cultural development when the most advanced Metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use included techniques for This article is about the archaeological period known as the Iron Age for the mythological Iron Age see Ages of Man.
Earlier flint mines in Britain such as Cissbury in Sussex were just as important as Grimes Graves, and there were many very local sources of flint which were exploited on the downlands. Cissbury is the name of a prehistoric site near the village of Findon around 5 miles north of Worthing in the English county of West Sussex Sussex is a historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. A downland is an area of open Chalk Hills This term is especially used to describe the Chalk countryside in southern England. However, its is probably relevant that Grimes Graves were close to the very rich soils of the fenland, and forest clearance here would rely on local products. Economy The Fenland economy has for years been built upon farming and food related industry
Grimes Graves is in the care of English Heritage. English Heritage is a Non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom government ( Department for Culture Media and Sport) with a broad remit of It is open to the public and it is possible to descend a 9 metre ladder and explore one of the shafts. This is the only shaft of its kind open to the public in Britain.
Barber, M. Cissbury is the name of a prehistoric site near the village of Findon around 5 miles north of Worthing in the English county of West Sussex Flint (or flintstone) is a hard sedimentary Cryptocrystalline form of the Mineral Quartz, categorized as a variety of Chert A knapper is a person who shapes Flint, Chert, Obsidian or other stone through the process of knapping or Lithic reduction to manufacture The Neolithic (from Greek νεολιθικός — neolithikos from νέος neos, "new" + λίθος lithos Spiennes is a Walloon village in the municipality of Mons, Belgium. A stone tool is in the most general sense any Tool made of stone. , Field D. , Topping, P, (1999)The Neolithic Flint Mines of England, Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England / English Heritage, ISBN 1-873592-41-8
Piggott, S. , (1986) 'Early British craftsmen' Antiquity LX No 230, Pages 189-192.
Clutton-Brock, J. , (1984) Excavations at Grimes Graves Norfolk 1972-1976 Fascicule 1: Neolithic Antler Picks From Grimes Graves, Norfolk, And Durrington Walls, Wiltshire: A Biometrical Analysis, British Museum Press, ISBN 0-7141-1374-3
Longworth, I. , Herne, A. , Varndell, G. and Needham, S. , (1991) Excavations at Grimes Graves Norfolk 1972-1976 Fascicule 3: Shaft X: Bronze Age Flint, Chalk and Metalworking, British Museum Press, ISBN 0-7141-1396-4