Ancient Britain: flint




Odd title, I know. One of the very interesting tidbits of knowledge passed on by our tour guide was that the Wiltshire region of England, home of the ancient sites we visited on our tour, is well-known for its use of local stone as building material, including flint because it was readily available here. Apparently brick was more common in other areas like London.

I’ve heard of flint tools and its use with gunpowder but not as a building material. I have to admit to not even recognizing it when I kept seeing this strange and intriguing almost seashell-like material embedded with mortar and other stones on some garden walls in London, then again quite a lot of it in the town of Salisbury (top two photos) and the cathedral itself. The walls of Old Sarum are mostly flint, though looking more chalky (detail in bottom photo); you may want to look again at some of the photos at the link.

Funny how once made aware of it, I began to notice even more how flintstones were used in decorative ways on the walls of many old houses and small churches as we drove around Wiltshire’s villages. I wish we’d been able to photograph some of them, not easy from a moving van.

Here’s more interesting information about flint, including this: Brighton’s shingle beach is full of flints with fossils within them, much prized by the Victorians. I wish I’d known this when we were there for I might have tried some fossil hunting on the beach.

Posts about our Ancient Britain Tour:
Old Sarum
White Horses
Silbury & West Kennet

July 7, 2009 in History, Photoworks, Rocks, Travel by Marja-Leena