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Archaeology and agriculture - Off in the distance
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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2010-06-24 12:05
Subject: Archaeology and agriculture
Security: Public
Location:52.145N 0.037W
Mood:stiff
Tags:wimpole community farm
One of the things about walking furrows is that one sees small bits of flint around.

At times like that, I'd love to know whether what I'm looking at is an accidental shaping, or whether it is an actual stone tool. Not having the eye to distinguish an eolith from a real tool, I'd like to have an archaeologist to hand, to tell me whether something that fits my hand naturally as a scraper is a scraper, or just an accident.

Yesterday one appeared.

Sadly, he was wandering along with a GPS and maps of Wimpole in 1638 in hand, and he was actually on the lookout for other archaeologists rather than flints.

I wonder whether uitlander is aware of a Peter Richard Cushing.

As far as work was concerned, we were there for nearly three hours, and we now have lettuces planted, as well as more bean canes. And much watering, too.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-06-24 12:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The actual soil there is more clay than chalk. I don't know how far down one has to go to actually get to the chalk, but there's no appreciable whiteness to the soil, and not a lot of flint nodules in sight.

Most of the small fragments are natural, I certainly accept. I'm wondering about one or two pieces that certainly aren't up to late neolithic arrow/spear head quality (those would be obvious, if only because of symmetry).
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The Uitlander: Archaeology
User: uitlander
Date: 2010-06-24 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Archaeology
'On the chalk' means that the subsoil geology is chalk. Doesn't matter how deep it is. If you are on the chalk there will be a lot of natural flint. The easiest way to spot worked flints is to go and walk somewhere where it is not part of the subsoil.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-06-24 15:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, I understand. I suspect that there's a good layer of clay above the chalk, but that'll be down as much as anything to the stream wandering back and forth over the millennia.
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User: furrfu
Date: 2010-06-24 16:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
According to the BGS's geological maps: depending on where you are near Wimpole Hall, you're either on chalk (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?pub=WMCH) or mudstone (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?pub=GLT) bedrock.

(Also, not *all* chalk necessarily has [lots of] flint in it.)
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-06-24 16:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
About 700 metres ENE of the Hall itself. Or 52.145N 0.037W.
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User: furrfu
Date: 2010-06-24 16:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, *those* fields. That'll be mudstone, then.

Of course, bits of flint (or somewhat more generally, chert) can of course have been eroded and transported over the many years that the landscape's been eroding, either by natural means or by being farmed.

PS. I'm only a budding geologist, I'm not talking with much authority here; although the bedrock type comes from the BGS itself so that's pretty certainly correct.

I'd collect some that you think might be knapped, and ask uitlander for her opinion. ;-)

(Of course, if archaeologists are anything like geologists, then you may be out of luck. Usually when shown an unknown rock, all you get is "it's a rock". It's quite hard to properly identify them, esp. without context.)
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The Uitlander: Archaeology
User: uitlander
Date: 2010-06-24 17:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Archaeology
It's simple enough to identify worked flint. However, if there is a lot of background noise of local unworked flint bellinghman may haul across a few hundred weight before he finds anything of interest. He'd be better off starting his search near where you live.
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The Uitlander: Archaeology
User: uitlander
Date: 2010-06-24 16:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Archaeology
Oh, and you're looking at the wrong features. Try and avoid looking for overall shape. You are looking for certain types of flake scars which once you get your eye in are rather distinctive. For the starting point see the bottom half of this page to get your head around the basic anatomy and terminology of worked flint.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-06-24 16:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, thanks. Yes, that makes much more sense - worked flint will show the marks of the working.
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