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Descending into history (Sub-Evil Boy)
yellow golf balls
Image by Unhindered by Talent
We made a few day trips while staying at Methwold Old Vicarage, the first of which was to Grimes Graves, a large pre-historic flint mining site. For over 1,000 years (starting around 3,000 BC), neolithic folk mined high quality "floorstone" flint below more than 10 meters of chalk. The mining was done using red deer antlers as the primary digging tool (!), and there is evidence of over 400 shafts. The miners typically dug a straight shaft down the the desired flint level, and then dug very shallow radiating shafts (little more than crawl spaces) along the flint seam, with no bracing or support. When they were done they back-filled the mines, leaving a large, dimpled area of land that looks vaguely like a huge green golf ball.

A few of the mines have been excavated, and you can actually climb down into one and get a real feel for the place and the process. You get to wear cool yellow hard hats, which you need - I bumped my head several times in the small spaces. You can see the white chalk marks on the top of Sub-Evil and WeatherGirl's helmets as they descend, evidence of previous wearer's bumping their heads into the chalk walls and ceilings.

All in all a very cool visit!

In some sense they were strip mining the area for flint. With nothing but people power and antlers, however, they couldn't strip too much or too fast. Take that same idea and put the muscle of modern technology behind it, though, and we can rip the top off a mountain.

Our wild and crazy son descending the ladder into the mine. (We made him go first :->.)

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