The Flintknappers

1949 , Brandon (Suffolk)

The skills involved in flint knapping.

The film begins with a shot of Herbert Edwards knapping out of doors. There is a pile of waste flint in the background. Indoors, three men sit flint knapping. The cowls for dust extraction are noticeable. Outside, the foreman, Bill Newton, shows how a flint is quartered. As he works, the commentary explains that this is tough top stone, flint from deeper would be better, although nowadays they are difficult to mine. There is a shot of 'Pony' Ashley, a flint miner bringing up flint from a pit on Ling Heath. The commentary mentions that this shaft has now fallen in. The commentary offers the opinion that the best flint of all is floorstone, such as was mined at Grimes Graves. There is a shot inside one of the pits there. Inside the workshop, Bill Newton demonstrates flaking. Two gun flints can usually be made from one flake. Outside, Herbert Edwards makes a gun flint. There is a close-up shot of the flint he makes. The history of the gun flint is reviewed over shots of the three knappers at work. A close-up shot shows flints being packed into Hessian bags and then into large barrels. These are mostly destined for West Africa, although one barrel is bound for Ohio, USA. Five members of the Ohio Muzzle Loader Club fire flintlock rifles.

Keywords

Craftsmen; Flint knapping

Background Information

A government factory for the manufacture of gun flints was established in Brandon in 1686. When the Parish of Brandon was enclosed in 1807, special arrangements were made for Lingheath Common, the flint mining area. Some of this film was shot before 1949. The last flint miner working on Lingheath Common was 'Pony' Ashley. He stopped mining in the late 1930s, by which time he was already over 80.

  • Director : A.D. Cartwright

  • Assistant director : Alan Pride

  • Camera : Stanley Rodwell

  • Editor : Alan Gourley

  • Sponsor : Shell

Manifestations

The Flintknappers

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  • Sequence Details:
    • Group 1:
      • Part Number: 4
      • Parts Unit: Series

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