Earlier last week, I received a box by post from a friend of mine in the UK. It felt like Yule had come to my doorstep, especially since I knew what would be inside…flint :). Flint and other cherts are very hard to find in the northeastern US, except for spotted locations on the map such as Revolutionary war battlefields and encampments, where it was used to provide the sparks that fires a musket. Of course, this flint was imported.
The Native Americans here did not have access to flint or cherts except through trade, which is why most stone tool artifacts in this region were made from rocks such as quartz and quartzite. Quartz usually fractures much easier than quartzite, which can be tough-as-wrought-nails to bust, but oftentimes the nodules tend to be weakened slightly through erosion, and thus they will not always fracture the way you want them to. Quartzite is more dense, sometimes resilient enough to break your hammerstone, but it makes for exceptionally strong tools. It also seems to produce better sparks against a steel for fire lighting compared to quartz.
Flint, on the other hand, isn’t overly tough nor too brittle, and fracturing tends to be much more predictable. Flint’s rarity, combined with these qualities, makes it valuable and highly sought-after in this part of the US.
These bits were collected from chalk cliffs along the sea. Very good pieces, and even some decent flakes as well :).
It is definitely a wonderful material to work with – I made myself a few points, some fine flakes, and a couple fragments that would be ideal additions to my fire kit.
The remaining chunks of flint will keep me quite happy for awhile. Thank you, John :D.