06 March 2017

Grime's Graves prehistoric mineshaft to open for the first time

The new mineshaft can be accessed next month at Norfolk's Grime's Graves - the only flint mine open to the public in the British Isles

A man exploring the new prehistoric mineshaft at Grime's Graves

English Heritage members will have access to a new prehistoric flint mine at Norfolk's Grime's Graves for the first time from next month. Grime's Graves is the only flint mine open to visitors in the British Isles and is connected to thousands of years of human ingenuity.

The new Greenwell's Pit is one of more than 400 shafts dug at the site where flint was first extracted to make tools including axes during the Neolithic period.

English Heritage will provide access to members from April and the public from June, both via special tours. Visitors will use a ladder and a newly installed winch to descend 12 metres below the ground.

A ladder to the mine at Grime's Graves

Jan Summerfield, Curator of Grime's Graves for English Heritage, said:

"The new winch system means that we are able to open this fascinating space to visitors for the first time, and it's great that English Heritage members will get the first glimpse of these unseen galleries, followed by the public in coming months.

"The pits themselves are a remarkable feat of human engineering and their survival over the past 4,500 years greatly benefits our understanding of Neolithic life."

The Grime's Graves landscape

Grime's Graves is one of only 10 known prehistoric flint mines in England. Greenwell's Pit is the second of the 4,500-year-old shafts at Grime's Graves currently open to the public.

Hundreds of mineshafts were dug at Grime's Graves for the purpose of extracting jet-black flint to make tools, weapons and ceremonial objects. These shafts would have been formed around the time that many of the stones at Stonehenge were first raised, and would have provided vital materials to Neolithic communities.

It is thought that the mines stopped being used in 2100 BC when people began to favour bronze.

The newly excavated mineshaft at Grime's Grave

Book your tour today

Booking for the members and public tours opens on Friday 10 March. Members' events will include an exclusive tour with Will Lord, a prehistoric expert who grew up on the grounds of the site.

Become an English Heritage member today to ensure you're one of the first to explore the mysterious site.

Tours of Greenwell's Pit:

Members' Only Tours
Thursday 6 April and Thursday 4 May
£35 (includes entry, tour with Neolithic expert and refreshments)

Public Tours
Thursday 1 June and Friday 14 July
£25 (English Heritage members - includes entry and tour)
£29.30 (non-members - includes entry and tour)

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