When and Why? The Chronology and Context of Flint Mining at Grime's Graves, Norfolk, England

Frances Healy*, Peter Marshall, Alex Bayliss, Gordon Cook, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Johannes Van Der Plicht, Elaine Dunbar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


New radiocarbon dating and chronological modelling have refined understanding of the character and circumstances of flint mining at Grime's Graves through time. The deepest, most complex galleried shafts were worked probably from the third quarter of the 27th century cal bc and are amongst the earliest on the site. Their use ended in the decades around 2400 cal bc, although the use of simple, shallow pits in the west of the site continued for perhaps another three centuries. The final use of galleried shafts coincides with the first evidence of Beaker pottery and copper metallurgy in Britain. After a gap of around half a millennium, flint mining at Grime's Graves briefly resumed, probably from the middle of the 16th century cal bc to the middle of the 15th. These 'primitive' pits, as they were termed in the inter-war period, were worked using bone tools that can be paralleled in Early Bronze Age copper mines. Finally, the scale and intensity of Middle Bronze Age middening on the site is revealed, as it occurred over a period of probably no more than a few decades in the 14th century cal bc. The possibility of connections between metalworking at Grime's Graves at this time and contemporary deposition of bronzes in the nearby Fens is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-301
Number of pages25
JournalProceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2018


  • Bayesian modelling
  • flint mines
  • Grime's Graves
  • radiocarbon dating
  • social context of mining

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