Same procedure as the last lot, except using my metal pressure flaker on some very hard flint. Again, I selected a pre-thinned piece, a blade produced by John Lord, of which I have about thirty. I took all the thick bits off with a stone, and then pressure flaked the shape. I am using Chris Butler’s (2005) book Prehistoric Flintwork for the relevant shapes and sizes and this is a useful exercise. I am learning about the flintwork from different periods by making the stuff. This flint was particularly difficult to work. I had an obsidian preform that I reduced and that was like soft glass, easy to work. This flint felt ‘dry’ and hard to work. Even with my favourite pressure flaker my invasive thinning was limited to 7 or 8mm maximum. When making it I made sure the thick section was the point and the thinner section could be the base, and therefore easily notched. And so it transpired. I am churning about two out per day at the moment, not sure what has come over me?
Today I have got very little done. I had a busy day yesterday and it tired me out. The only really productive thing I managed to finish today was to de-flea the dog. However, this evening was bright and I was able to spend a little time in the backyard after tea and it was productive.
Judicious flake selection is key for me currently and I used my last three remaining nodules in order to generate suitable flakes. Using flint is different because there are more variables in form and size, however these variables can work in our favour if the flake is already usefully shaped and suitably thinned. Flint is also harder as a material, and looking at my antler tine pressure flaking the maximum invasive flaking on these is 5mm. Essentially I am simply shaping already pointy thin flakes with the one on the right being the most ambitious (and still thick in places). I am still getting used to using the antler, however I can say that my leaf points do look like many archaeological examples. I mentioned to a friend earlier that I am overly concerned with aesthetics, whilst they simply wanted to kill something. This is both true and untrue as there are some amazing archaeological examples, however I am firmly on the functional platform when using flint. Currently I work the flake using my thigh as an anvil, and I think this may have its limitations as I have to apply more pressure to a harder material. This is food for thought, however now I have to book my ticket for the Archaeology and Classics Ball, which I have inadvertently agreed to go to on Friday. Whilst this may sound exciting to you, I am 56.
Yesterday I was talking to my friend, Brian Madden, who edited my self promotion video. He thought a video of me making a flint arrowhead would be good, more archaeological. Consequently I have just had a half hour in the backyard combining three factors: Neolithic leaf shaped arrowhead; a flint flake; my new antler pressure flaker.
This is the result, and it was quick. I used a stone to get rid of the really thick parts of the flake. Then my special dog chew antler hammer that works really well for thinning arrowheads. Finally I moved onto my new pressure flaker.
As you can see, the shape is good. Thickness (5mm) is fine due to judicious flake selection, and my invasive flaking is not very invasive at the moment, but good enough (10mm at one point). The edge feels different to the glass, more serrated and robust and I can see how it would work well. The only factor I didn’t include here was a video camera, so this needs to be seen as my warm up exercise.
These two leaf shaped arrowheads are both made from the glass bottle bottoms found at Chorlton Ees. I started out aiming to produce Kimberley points, but ended up thinning the pieces with my antler hammer. I have an antler hammer that is the perfect tool for arrowheads and ended up doing most of the thinning and shaping with that.￼ I like them both, but I used my metal pressure flaker to make them, so technologically they are not correct. However, yesterday my new antler pressure flaker arrived in the post.
Today I had a go at making a Neolithic leaf shaped arrowhead using only stone and antler. This is another piece of period glass from Chorlton Ees…
And this is today’s leaf shaped arrowhead. I am pleased with the end result and using the antler was interesting. It took a little getting used to, and I sharpened it to a nice point. This didn’t work as it just crushed as soon as I applied any real pressure. It needs to be rounded and it can then engage with the edge better. Although it is not obvious, each face has a little step fracture island in the centre. This illustrates my depth of pressure flaking with the new antler.
I am meeting some friends at Chorlton Ees in an hour or so. Dog walk, forage, and then we are going for some food. Let’s see what we come back with.
As is usual here in Manchester, the weather has been absolutely fantastic. Consequently I have been outdoors a lot and the dog and myself spent an hour or so having a root around Chorlton Ees. I am still amazed at the amount of treasure there is to find just lying on the surface.
Some material has been unearthed by burrowing animals, and some has just been lying around for many decades. I was particularly pleased coming home with a carrier bag full of 1900s thick broken bottle bases. This glut of material reminded me that I am indebted to three people and I have not made any effort yet to repay their kindness. It would seem that now is the time.
This Kimberley point, or more accurately Mancunian point is made from the flat piece of glass on the left. A scratch on the surface caused a little step fracturing but ultimately it was no problem.
I am really loving flint knapping at the moment and I have lots of material to play with. The sun coming out is just the icing on the cake and if it stays like this I can look forward to getting the other two done in the next day or so. In the meantime I will enjoy posting this one off tomorrow morning.
Rachel at The Old Abbey Taphouse has been kind enough to give me the space to run a second workshop with them. Drawing upon my Pop Up Business School experience, videos attract more attention than posts with just photos, or text only. Consequently, here is my promotional video.
My friend Brian Madden edited this video for me, and pointed out how about half way through (1.09 seconds) one of my neighbours shouts out “I can’t find the chocolate“. Soon after (1.23 seconds) I can be seen eating some chocolate. Who said subliminal advertising doesn’t work.
I have been a little obsessed by knapping both yesterday and today. I made another hard hammer handaxe, which then became a Middle Palaeolithic Leafpoint, before ending up as a non period specific spear point. Hard hammer and soft hammer with a little pressure flaking. What is good as well is that I can identify the technology that produced each removal, not because I remember, but because of the shape and form of the scar.
Next up is a Neolithic leaf shaped arrowhead. The following example is from the museum at Whitby, and I have tried to reproduce it before with little success.
It was obviously still on my mind as this is a much better attempt, although when I now view them together I can see the original is much more refined. The glass used here was amazing and I have to thank the guy in Oddbins last night who gave me four empty spirit bottles to play with. I may give this to him in return for more bottles. He seemed enthusiastic about the prospect, as I would be in his shoes.
I then gravitated towards ‘Johnstone’ or bathroom ceramic, kindly collected for me by my friend David Thompson. His block of flats was having new bathrooms fitted and I now have all the old cisterns. These have been added to the ones I collected from Mansfield Cooper building when the toilets there were replaced.
I forgot how nice this material is to work. I am pleased with all of them, and all of them indicate to me the way to proceed. The flint is great and I am concentrating on being as consistent with a soft hammer as I am now with a hard hammer. The glass worked beautifully, and making them thinner and more refined is the next step. The ceramic is really difficult to keep long. In other words it is very easy for it to break when in big pieces. Paradoxically it is really robust at arrowhead size. I can do a better job of the notching but I need a different tool. I used my soft iron nail pressure flaker with all these materials, and so they are not technically correct. I have ordered a long Red Deer antler tine today and when that arrives I am going to see how that works. My aim with the bathroom ceramic is a Solutrean point. That is uncharacteristically ambitious of me, but hey, I have about seventeen cisterns, plus lids, and I am only 56.