Westmorland Archaeology Flint Knapping workshop at The Old Courthouse, Shap, on Sat Oct 31st 2015: the techniques of Pre-historic tool manufacture, a hands-on workshop.
This was something that several of us had wanted to do for a long time, but finding a teacher as well as the cost had put us off. However a visit to the Dockyard Museum in Barrow introduced us to Karl Lee of Primitive Technologies UK. who was giving a demonstration and importantly could offer us an affordable event based on a 12-15 group size. Karl is an Archaeologist based in the Forest of Dean with over 20 years experience of lithic manufacture, is very enthusiastic and was willing to make the long journey North. So all we had to do was to find a dozen or so participants.
Our first walk took place during our 3 day archaeology event in July.This proved so popular that a second walk was arranged for August 8th. The weather for both days was sunny and breezy. Eight of us left from the Old Courthouse along the road to the south end of Shap and to the Arc of Five Stones, known locally as Kemp Howe or Shapsey but officially known as Shap South. This is the place at which Lady Lowther did her painting in 1775. The coming of the railway in 1844 cut the circle and left the five Shap Granite boulders next to the railway where we see them today. We then retraced our steps. Read the rest of this entry
The season got off to a good start in early April with a 19 acre field (10 football pitches), south sloping towards the Lune Gorge. Walking the “obvious” areas ( ie. Where would I sit around knapping stones? Answer: on sunniest bit just below high point out of prevailing wind) A number of flints were soon found and flagged, showing a concentration around the top of the field. This area was next grid-searched at 2m intervals- effectively covering the whole area in close detail, after this the rest of the field was searched at 10m intervals. Dry weather and a strong cold wind blew away the dust revealing more finds, next it rained which washed- out some more flints. Some of the flints were of very fine quality, some of the best we have seen in the area, shown is a Neolithic spear point. The field was a typical prehistoric site containing both Mesolithic and Neolithic artefacts including the expected cores, waste and debitage as well as some finished items mostly of flint and chert.
Our next challenge was an area of 3 newly created fields (by amalgamation) covering an area from the valley bottom and up a very steep fell-side . A neighbouring field had been searched the previous year but with little success. There was a widely-spaced scatter of a few chert cores and some flint oddments, possibly items discarded or lost by people walking through the area to one of the nearby major manufacturing sites. Our main problem is the catastrophic fall in the milk price, farmers are cutting back and ploughing is very expensive, if ultimately rewarding.At this time(August) we have another field “booked” for ploughing after the 2nd silage cut- so watch this space!
A rare example of a flint hand axe or ‘chopper’ found in the Eden Valley recently. It is heavily worked to creaste a sharp edge perfect for crunching up fairly large items – perhaps for getting the marrow out of bones?
The interesting thing is; that it only fits the right hand. We have found other examples of tools that feel comfortable just in the left hand – so these must have been bespoke made, either by or for the person using it.
Dating is very hard with these items – it has been independently dated to the Bronze Age – but tools like this were being used over very long periods. Come to see it at the exhibition we have running this weekend.
They don’t come much nicer than this! One of the flint blades/scrapers found locally through field walking. The re-touch working is exquisite – tiny flakes chipped off on both edges.