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Tabular Flint

19 January 2018

The seams of nodular and tabular flint at the base of the Upper Chalk on the South Downs were mined for axe production during the early Neolithic period (around 4000BC) whilst flint dug out of the 'clay and flints' and 'river terrace gravels' geology provided raw material of varying quality through the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. In East Sussex, the clay and flints produced high quality nodules. Excavation and extraction on Bullock Down near Eastbourne has revealed evidence of extensive exploitation of flint from clay and flints geology (washed out of the chalk) (Drewitt 1982). South Downs flint mines go back at least to 4000BC but were they primarily geared towards extraction of flint alone or was  chalk for sweetening fields also as important – or more important. Tabular flint layers were available at the nearby Seven Sisters cliffs on the coast – and all along the white chalk cliffs of Kent and Sussex. The large flint cores mentioned in the earlier piece were likely sourced from tabular chalk deposits – original a semi fluid silica solution that creeped into faults and cracks in the chalk (especially horizontal faults). Is this telling us something about how the chalk formed as well as how flint formed at the same time.

To be continued …

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