Monday, 17 October 2011

Flint Knapping

Late last year i was privileged to be asked if i wanted to go to a flint knapping demo at the local school,  the guy doing the knapping was called Robert Turner who some of the Brits might have remembered from an episode of Time Team when they dug a prehistoric village on the South Downs, more info on the Time Team dig on their website -, back to the demo, well quite simply it was incredible to watch a master craftsman take a core of flint and in next to no time at all, have a workable hand axe.

Quite simply amazing to watch this tool appear from a block of stone, Robert took the time to explain exactly what he was doing and why at each stage of the manufacture, including how the strike of the hammer stone or tool travels through the stone and how to visualise what will happen when you strike it, the man is incredibly skilled and very modest as to his skill set not only did he knap flint, but he also demonstrated knapping glass and some of the flakes he got were incredibly thin, one of the teachers asked if she could have a go at it and only then did she realise exactly how difficult knapping is, mind you she did get some good flakes off, but Robert allowed her to have a go on the hand axe he had produced in front of us and it kinda lost it's shape a bit, but ten minutes work and it was back to where it needed to be, he has donated it to the school for their collection, bear in mind this was not a course as such, but a demonstration of the skill set used by our ancestors all those years ago for the kids who were studying archeology.

Robert then went on to show us some of the hand axes and other items he had made (Pictured above), then out came the ultimate in hand axes, certainly that i have seen, this one has been dated to 485,000 years old.

and yes i got to hold it.

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