One of the mines, Greenwell's Pit, has been mapped by laser to allow visitors to "fly" in virtual reality over the surface and along the shafts and galleries. It should be in place next year as part of the overhaul of the visitor facilities at the site... continues...
Guided tour: Grime's Graves Neolithic flint mines
Grime's Graves is one of only handful of Neolithic flint mines in Britain, and the only one where you can actually go down into one of the 5,000 year old mine shafts... continues...
A 3-D image of the 4000-year-old flint mine at Grimes Graves.
A unique insight into the life of Stone Age miners in Norfolk has been unearthed for the first time with the help of high-tech laser equipment... continues...
I had recently found an old guide book on Grime's Graves, from the 60's, by the exotically titled R. Rainbird Clarke, which had prompted me to revisit the site.
I haven't been here for around nearly a decade, and had forgotten the size of the surrounding area of the flint mines. It truly is quite a striking landscape, hidden deep within the forest.
Firstly I wanted to explore the mound, known as Grimshoe at the eastern edge. This mound found apparently much use later during Saxon times, as a meeting place. In fact understanding how the site had been used through the different periods, reinforced how uniquely important the site is.
I hadn't realised that the 'Goddess' figure found in Pit 15, is now widely thought to be a 'plant' to support the debated belief that the mines dated back to the Palaeolithic, which is kind of a shame. It's an intriguing tale, but would be more so if it were authentic.
With the visit being made on a weekday, late in the lovely sunny afternoon, with virtually no one else there, made it well worth the trip.
An uncharacteristic trip east far beyond the Peak district, hah !! Norfolk laughs in the face of the Peaks easterlyness. It still took a yawning three hours to get here, and this was the only destination on the list (except Sherwood forest on the way back).
It was Saturday morning in early June and we had the entire site to ourselves, which was nice.
We bought our tickets and went straight to the shed that houses the stairway to below, which threw the guide a bit as most people have a look around first, but not me, time for chilling amongst the sleepy hollows later, right now I want my mind blowing, and Grim was the man for the job.
Our lad Eric chickened out and wouldnt go down, so me and the wife took it in turns, she went first, she came back up 5minutes later with a glazed look on her face, and said "uummm that was cool" . I'll be the judge of that said I, then the earth swallowed me whole and I was in a different world.
The air was cool down below and I was all alone, the only sound was the tour guide many feet above me wittering on about the Iceni no doubt, what do they say about a bit of knowledge?
I settled into the place and explored as fully as possible every nook and cranny. I really liked the well worn floor under the stoop, but I only hope ancient feet made it and not some self important
victorian dudes. Hayley was right, it was cool
Time to go back up top side, half way up is a line of big black flint nodules still poking from the mine walls, then when light starts to make a come back so does the mosses and ferns.
The tour guide was just telling Eric how the miners were six year old children and it only took one summer to fully excavate and fill back in again. My spidey (bollocks radar)sence tingling we exited the shed and the guideman sent us in a easterly direction towards Boudiccas mound where she may or may not have adressed her native followers to expel those dreadful Romans.
She's understandably a major theme round here as this was centre of the Iceni home turf.
More than four hundred mines, thousands of buttercups and a handfull of singing birds chilled me right out after too.
Why not visit Weeting castle afterwards a delightful ruin amongst strong mature trees ,we did, which was nice.
Back in the 1920's my father was the village policeman at Mundford. One day he was told that a motor cycle and sidecar had been seen standing at Grimes Graves for some time. In those days the site was on "common" ground. He cycled over and ultimately decided that the owner must have gone down into the mine. With the help of some locals and a ball of string to act as a life line, he went down into the pit and eventually found a young couple in one of the tunnels. Apparently they had got disoriented, their light had failed, and they were unable to find a way out. They were cold and hungry but otherwise none the worse for their adventure.
We visited Grimes Graves in Summer 2000, following a bit of a Megalithic crusade around the UK.
It is the only Megalithic site in East Anglia (apart from Seahenge), and it's pretty good.
We got quite an erie feeling coming out of the forest and seeing loads of pockmarked holes in the large clearing. It is very strange to don a helmet and descend into the earth to see a site - the temparature drops by about 10 degrees. Once down the ladder (a feat in itself) you can see the workings of the ancients as they scrabbled about for flint. It is amazing to think that they did this without A) electric light and B) a nice hard-hat!
Well worth a visit, but 2 words of warning:
1. Don't plan your trip during the school holidays as only a few people can descend at one time...
Are these just the suppositions of a Victorian Gentlemen or have they got some basis in local folklore? Curious ideas, whichever.
..In Norfolk one of the hundreds, or subdivisions of the county, is called Grimshoo or Grimshow, after (as it is supposed) a Danish leader of the name of Grime or Gryme. [..] In about the centre of this hundred is a very curious Danish encampment, in a semicircular form, consisting of about twelve acres.
In this space are a great number of large deep pits, joined in a regular manner, one near to another, in form of a quincunx, the largest in the centre, where the general's or commander's tent was placed. These pits are so deep and numerous as to be able to conceal a very great army. At the east end of this entrenchment is a large tumulus, pointing towards Thetford, from which it is about live or six miles distant; and which might possibly have served as a watch tower, or place of signal: and here the hundred court used to be called.
This place also is known by the name of The Holes, or Grimes-graves. This part of the country, being open, was a great seat of war between the Saxons and Danes, as appears from many tumuli throughout this hundred, erected over the graves of leaders who fell in battle; or as tokens of victory, to show how far they had led their armies and conquered.
I just want it noted that I went to Grimes Graves on 30/03/03. We arrived on motorbike, numb and slightly terrified with ringing ears - or was it skylarks? A friendly biker that works there chatted about his Ducati (I'm a push-cyclist - I know narthing) and told us to come back after lunch. So we had a decent veggie burger at the Crown Inn on Crown Road.
Funny place to visit really, an old industrial site, so don't expect it to awe and inspire like a stone circle. Its not exactly Magna either, but its a good stroll up and down the hummocks. There is a little section of mine that you can climb into, which gives some idea of how confined the mines were (but don't do as I did - don't enter this place with a flatulent friend). Did they use slaves or children? There is also a gift shop, which is essential these days, isn't it?
If you're into skeletons, there seem to be plenty of bones on the surface. I've got a lovely rodent skull. If you are not into bones, enjoy the skylarks and breath the fresh fresh Norfolk air...