Monthly Archives: January 2017

Understanding Archaeological Landscapes

The speaker at our meeting on 12th January is Steve Critchley, who will explain how geology can contribute to the understanding of the archaeological landscape, specific sites and artefacts.   His focus will be on people’s use  of geological resources over thousands of years.

From prehistoric times, humans have fashioned flint into cutting tools and scrapers.  An “industry” developed where suitable flint was plentiful, and skilled craftsmen traded the finished items over long distances.  Likewise, deposits of clay suited to pottery-making led to the production and trading of pots to areas where raw materials and expertise were lacking.

It’s not always easy to identify a primitive artefact from a naturally formed object.  In the photograph below, only one item has been adapted by humans…


Top left – At first glance  this looks like moulded pottery, but is part of an ammonite (extinct marine mollusc).

Top right – The markings look hand-drawn, but it’s the fossil of a burrowing sea urchin, commonly called a sand dollar or sea biscuit.

Bottom right – Known as a devil’s toenail, its the fossil of an extinct oyster (gryphoea).  There was a folk belief that carrying one, would prevent rheumatism.

Bottom left – Volcanic lava (not from Lincolnshire!)

Middle of bottom row – The hole is so symmetrical that it could have been drilled, but is in fact natural.  These are known as hag stones and used to be hung on bedposts as protection against witchcraft.

The flint in the middle of the top row has been knapped round the edges to form a delicate scraper.  The underside is perfectly shaped to fit against a finger.

Steve is a professional geologist and has worked alongside archaeologists at many digs. He will bring a variety of geological specimens and artefacts for people to handle and discuss. 

The meeting starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.

Everyone is welcome.  The charge for non-members is £2