Friday, 20 September 2013

Caught Knapping


Here is a report from our member Dave:

"A dozen Dorset Diggers gathered together last Saturday in a secret corner of Bridport - the walled garden of the WI's hall - to find out how flint tools were manufactured in prehistory. Our tutor, Anthony, proved to be excellent value for money, being both very knowledgeable about his subject as well as an expert knapper in his own right.

Working chronologically from the very earliest tools - largish pebbles struck in order to produce a sharp edge, through bifacial hand-axes typical of the palaeolithic, to barbed and tanged arrow heads of the bronze age, he explained the principles of knapping - what sort of stone to use to strike the flint, where to strike it, at what angle and how hard.  

He passed around many examples of his own work, which were all beautiful crafted.  He explained that the techniques he used were deduced through experiment, as no description of how it was originally done has survived in any form.  

On the way he discussed many things that I, for one, had not considered before, such as what sort of glue was used to secure arrow-heads in their shafts -  a common one was birch bark tar - and how often an arrow head could be used before it broke - the answer being that probably they were usually just used once.  Think of all the wasted effort if you missed your target.

Best of all, and this was something I hadn't expected when I signed up for the afternoon, we ended with a practical session.  We all selected a piece of leather to drape over our thigh, our own hammer stone, our own piece of virgin flint and, not to forget: some safety goggles.  I was just getting the hang of it when I had to rush off, as my ticket was about to run out in the car park.  


I am now the proud owner of a mis-shapen piece of flint, but it does show some good bulbs of percussion and conchoidal fractures, so I'm happy.

So a big thank you to Anthony for his enthusiasm, expertise and willingness to lug a ton and a half of flints, stones and antlers through the streets of Bridport in order to give us a thoroughly informative and enjoyable afternoon."


And a letter from another member:


"It was absolutely brilliant today, I cannot thank you enough for organizing it.  How lucky are we to be able to do that.  Anthony was very good and explained it so well.  I would love to do it again if you are thinking of arranging another session in the future."
 

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