Grimes Graves

  • Period: Neolithic (about 2000-3000 years ago)
  • Type: Flint Mine
  • Address: Lynford, Thetford, Norfolk, IP26 5DE
  • OS Grid Ref: TL815900

Grime's Graves is the only Neolithic flint mine open to visitors in UK. The scheduled monument extends over an area of some 37 ha (96 acres) and consists of around 433 shafts dug into the natural chalk. The largest shafts are more than 14 m (40 feet) deep and 12 m in diameter at the surface. Each shaft and gallery was worked with tools of antler and bone. The prehistoric miners the fine quality jet-black flint 'floorstone', which occurs nine metres below surface level.

The name Grimes is thought to have come from the Saxon god Woden, known as "Grim" who was thought made the grassy hollows there. The Saxon word for hollow is "Grave".

There is some evidence that the miners may have conducted ceremonies at the site as artefacts (such as a crudely carved chalk woman and flint nodules inscribed with pictures) have been found, although there is no signs of a domestic settlement.

Here I am decending down the narrow steel ladder of the only shaft generally open to the public

At the bottom of the shaft (around 9m below the surface)

 

The first excavation of the site took place between 1868 and 1870, by Cannon Greenwell which as recorded in his paper 'On the opening of Grime's Graves in Norfolk', published by the Journal of the Ethnological Society of London.

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