John Lord knapping rock crystal

Today I spent the day with John Lord in a polytunnel in Norfolk. I had a number of things on my shopping list, one of which was some rock crystal to be worked. Nick Overton is looking at some debitage recovered from a Neolithic site and wanted John to see how the material knapped.

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Nick had given me some pieces of crystal for John to test, but as it transpired, he had already tried it out. Someone had left him some larger pieces and these were of a more usable size. Nick’s pieces are on the top row, John’s on the bottom.

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John used an antler hammer to take off a largish flake, and then a Red Deer antler tine to start pressure flaking. Because of its crystalline nature it was unclear if as a material it would knap. The Neolithic material did indeed contain micro debatage, but the crystals Nick had obtained were small and difficult to work, hence the request.

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The larger flake proved to be workable and John was able to produce a nice leaf shaped arrowhead. The majority of the pressure flaking was done with a Roe Deer tine. For people in the past I imagine this would have been an amazing material. For me it is very similar to the bases of beer bottles that I am used to working. Some of the magic has therefore been lost on me. I collected all the debatage for Nick so he is going to be busy. The outcome for me is the following photograph of John Lord’s hands.

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