Flint knapping with John Lord
Last weekend I drove over to Norfolk to spend a day flint knapping with renowned knapper John Lord, along with fellow HCA member Robin Wood. John and his wife Val were very welcoming and soon put us at ease, and before long we were getting down the business of breaking up flint.
Flint knapping is one of those things that are relatively easy to pick up, but need years of practice to master. There are two main techniques to flint knapping: percussion, which involves striking the flint with hammer stones or antler hammers; and pressure flaking, which uses copper or antler points to push flakes off. I found the latter a lot more difficult, as to get a decent sized thinning flake you need to put a large amount of pressure on the piece you are working on, while holding it steady in your other hand.
At the end of the day I had produced a small hand axe, two arrowheads and a knife blade. I had trouble getting my pressure flakes to be invasive enough so that is something I need to work on.
John was very generous, and as well as buying us lunch and giving us copies of his book, he also gave us huge lumps of flint to take home and practice on. I’ll be trying to get a nice lot of arrowheads and knife blades out of mine, but the best part will be having the opportunity to learn more about the properties of flint.
John’s website can be found at www.flintknapping.co.uk. I would highly recommend his courses.