Patterns In (and With) Flint Stones

Although we must have flint in Canada I have only ever seen flint beaches in Europe where I couldn’t resist picking up a few as souvenirs.

One part of the beach at Cap Hornu on the Normandy Coast of France was filled with flint stones with subtle wave patterns in black and ochre. In some cases the ochre seeped into the crusty white coating of the stones creating patterns reminiscent of a topographical map.At Baie de Sommes the beach was primarily flint stonesAbove the beach was the medieval city of St-Valery-sur-Sommes with its church patterned with flint (dark) and sandstone (light).The church in the Medieval Village section of St-Valery-sur-Sommes showing the flint (dark) and sandstone (light) patternsDetail of the flint and sandstone pattern wall on the exterior wall of the church.Flint & sandstone wall detail on the church in the Medieval Village at St-Valery-sur-SommesThe view from Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland of the white cliffs to the west was especially spectacular, and had us wondering if there was a beach anywhere nearby and if so how could we get down to it after we left the castle.
View from Dunluce Castle ruins in Northern Ireland, UKThose white cliffs turned out to be part of the White Rocks Coastal Park and upon closer inspection were made of flint stone nodules encased in white chalk. Here are two exposed pieces of the flint with very subtle gradations of grey and brown.
The white rocks of White Rocks Coastal Park in Northern Ireland, UK are flint stones with a white coating from weathering
As a farm worker in Denmark my dad wrote this about flint: “In the process of digging the drainage ditches we found Stone Age tools going back to the earliest period when Denmark was settled about ten thousand years ago. These people learned to polish flint in such an interesting way that these stone tools became a collector’s item in ancient Egypt.”

When I was in Denmark I visited a couple of farms where he had worked and took a quick shot of this collection of stones in one of the windowsills of the house. It was only while putting together this post that I realized that this stone collection must be similar to the flint tools that he found when digging ditches. The circular stone with the pattern on it is also flint, this time in the form of a fossil echinoid, an ancient form of sea life.Flint tools and a flint fossil at Rubenlund, my dad's Uncle Eric's place where he worked for a summerAt the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen projectiles of worked flint stone are arranged in patterns.Projectiles of flint stone in the National Museum of Denmark in CopenhagenI’ll let my dad’s stories caption these tools as well, also found in the National Museum of Denmark: “The family went picnicking in the old Ford wagon, most often to Ristinge Klint. The klints (cliffs) had many kinds of flint in various colours, a big trade item in the Stone Age five thousand years ago.”
Axes and other tools of flint in the National Museum of Denmark in CopenhagenSubtle and beautiful swirls of ochre and grey in a larger chunk of flint.Beautiful patterns of a flint stone in the National Museum of Denmark in CopenhagenWhile I was in Denmark my cousin took me to a beach near her place in Odense to look for fossils. I was fascinated by the subtle wave pattern within the flint and the contrast between the black exposed stones and white chalk coating. My cousin took me to a beach near her place to look for fossils; Was fascinated by the flint instead (Odense, Denmark)There is also the soft sheen of the exposed flint in contrast to the matte white coating.My cousin took me to a beach near her place to look for fossils; Was fascinated by the flint instead (Odense, Denmark)While looking up flint I found out that these fossil echinoids are also forms of flint. From the patterns on the stones it appears to me that these ancient creatures must be related to modern day sea urchins.Flint fossil echinoids at my cousin's friend's garden in Odense, DenmarkI didn’t find any fossils that day but I managed to pick up a few smaller flints as ‘souvenirs’.flint souvenirs from DenmarkPer Kirkeby, a Danish artist is interested in geology and natural environments, and it shows in this mural of flint stones that he painted on the ceiling of the new library extension (aka the Black Diamond) in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was about to do some paintings of flint but it seems he beat me to it!In the Copenhagen Library is a ceiling mural inspired by flint stones by the Danish artist Per KirkebyMore of the Len-Artists Photo Challenge: Patterns.

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7 responses to “Patterns In (and With) Flint Stones

    • I did some research after I wrote the post and it turns out that the flint beds in North America are all in Ohio and Texas. Back in the days of arrowheads and knapped tools whoever possessed flint had a very valuable trade item. The Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument has such beautiful flints I would go there just for the flint!

  1. These are harmonius and subtle, natural patterns. Love them. I have never thought about flint in this way. And Kirkeby – wonderful.

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