Flint nodule source

  • Hey Guest, For sale we have Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteel PLEASE LOOK HERE for more information or use the Pay Now button in the sidebar
Apr 26, 2013
2
0
USA
Hello everyone, I'm new to this forum. I'm a student from the USA, and I need a little help figuring out a puzzle.

Around 1993, I found a nodule of flint at the northern end of Deadman's Island, in the town of Gulf Breeze, Florida. The remains of two British ships dating to the 1770s have been excavated here, and the nodule is likely from the UK. I assume it was used to make gun flints, some of which were found in the ship remains.

Does anyone here recognize this material, and know of the source? I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you!







 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,972
2,015
S. Lanarkshire
That looks like a diatamous chert nodule to me......but I'm no expert, and flint isn't common in Scotland.

cheers,
Toddy
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,038
547
47
Wiltshire
aren't there techniques for finding where a stone was sourced these days? But I have heard they are very pricey
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,573
459
Mercia
Thats a common or garden flint nodule

Here is a big version in the hands of the incomparable John Lord


JL large flint by British Red, on Flickr

Here is a poor version (12" long) hoiked out of the ground by me


Core by British Red, on Flickr

Here are the flint nodules lying around in the dirt on the Downs


Flint Field by British Red, on Flickr

Here is a blade core I developed from such a surface nodule


Core by British Red, on Flickr

Bog standard, boring as hell, Wessex flint lump mate

Oh...here is me living in a house made of such flint nodules


Flame by British Red, on Flickr

Red
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,972
2,015
S. Lanarkshire
Flint is crisp, sharp and has a sheen.....chert is inclined to just look grubby:sigh:
They both pressure flake, they both will give a useable sharp edge, but....and it's a big but, only high quality chert works well and then it's equivalent to mediocre flint.

Flint, jasper and chert are formed from pretty much the same material, just the how that varies. Microcrystalline structures vary a bit I'm told.
Flint 'rings', chert sounds kind of stuffed up somehow. Jasper comes in beautiful colours :)

M
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,972
2,015
S. Lanarkshire
There you go....I've just looked on Wikipedia ....can't be bothered to dig out the flint/stone tools books at this time of night :eek:, and wiki says....

"There is much confusion concerning the exact meanings and differences among the terms "chert", "chalcedony" and "flint" (as well as their numerous varieties). In petrology the term "chert" is used to refer generally to all rocks composed primarily of microcrystalline, cryptocrystalline and microfibrous quartz. The term does not include quartzite. Chalcedony is a microfibrous (microcrystaline with a fibrous structure) variety of quartz.
Strictly speaking, the term "flint" is reserved for varieties of chert which occur in chalk and marly limestone formations.[2][3] Among non-geologists (in particular among archaeologists), the distinction between "flint" and "chert" is often one of quality - chert being lower quality than flint. This usage of the terminology is prevalent in America and is likely caused by early immigrants who imported the terms from England where most true flint (that found in chalk formations) was indeed of better quality than "common chert" (from limestone formations)"

atb,
M
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,573
459
Mercia
Mmm sounds about right.

The OP looks like a chalk down flint nodule to me - right tan on white on grey make up, even coloured interior.

Its a pretty p1ss poor nodule to be honest. I would have kicked it to one side hunting flint on the Downs - a "fist sized" piece isn't worth the effort to bend over and pick up (but such is the thought process of those surrounded by the damned stuff in both quantity and quality).

Colour is also an indication of quality (ime). Black and "glassy" is good stuff, grey and cloudy is not. But phots are hard to read - it all depends on how the piece is angled to the light. That blade core above on the table was a dream to work - large blades were struck off on a single tap wothout developing a platform. Other pieces from the same seam were rubbish.

Hey - they are all just sponges when you come down to it :)
 
Last edited:

Everything Mac

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 30, 2009
3,106
78
33
Scotland
*geologist hat on*

It appears I've been beaten to it already but yes, most certainly a chert of some kind or other. As Toddy pointed out we only really call it flint when it forms in chalk. The exact method of its formation is up for debate, some argue chemical others say biological. It is likely a combination of the two, though I always understood it to be an organically formed rock.

As it happens I've been drilling through some these last few days out here at sea.

Physically though there is little difference, it will flake and is hard enough to strike sparks from a steel.

Fun fact, it has a chaotic crystal structure similar to obsidian. This is why it is see through when you get a thin enough slice.

Barring the more exotic stuff, flint and obsidian are among my favourite rocks.


Andy
 
Apr 26, 2013
2
0
USA
Thank you for all the replies! I'm a geology student, so I use "chert" to refer to cryptocrystalline quartz in a geological context. I use "flint" for material that's been worked, pretty much.
 

Silverhill

Maker
Apr 4, 2010
909
0
38
Derbyshire
Time for more nonsense from another Geo-toad;

What basalt clearly has in his possession is a sample of what is commonly referred to as 'rinded flint'. Whilst this terminology is not officially recognised in GS circles, it is in frequent use (for the die-hards it's commonplace in the CIRIA Digest 'Engineering in Chalk' as well as in use by the 'big boys' such as Arup, Mott McD and BBGE alongside BS:5930).

Where confusion occurs is when the flint undergoes colour changes when subjected to weathering processes. The dark grey to black flint is fresh, degrading to light grey to off-white when almost totally weathered. The rind of the flint (often referred to as the cortex or spall) is partially porous in comparison to the rest of the 'core', hence the rinding effect. That's not to say that the term chert is obsolete, in fact much the opposite! Chert is strictly the correct term, but flint had replaced it to encompass all of the weathered states and colours when derived from the chalk source rock; probably colloquially more than anything else.

It could be that your chalk was deposited glacially or fluvially having been eroded from the source rock (the southern states have a little chalk I understand), but not knowing your exact location I'd be hard pressed to take a stab. Here in the UK you'd be equally hard pressed due to the successive glaciations and denudation of the land mass into its current form. British Red is correct in what he says regarding its overall prevalence and occurrence; down in Hampshire, West Sussex, Kent, parts of Essex, Suffolk and Kent the Upper Chalk is overlain by 'Clay with flints' as the BGS so eloquently describe it. Essentially the chalk weathers to a reddish brown silty gravelly clay, from which the flints were removed and traditionally used to face masonry (especially churches and parish boundaries), provide ballast for vessels, provide flints for firearms and strikers as well as edges for cutting tools long before that.

All in all, even if it wasn't from an English ship, its still a resource worth having and something most avid Bushcrafters have in their fire kit alongside some amadou, charcloth and polypore. Happy firelighting :)
 

dave53

Full Member
Jan 30, 2010
2,992
10
67
wales
you all lost me on the first few sentences mister silverhill especially, regards to all flintheads dave
 

Greg

Full Member
Jul 16, 2006
3,664
104
Pembrokeshire
May have just been picked up by a seaman as a spare bit of flint to strike a light for his pipe....just thinking of a simple answer :)
 

Hultafors Outdoor knife for Sale

We have a a number of Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteels

You can see more details here in this thread OUTDOOR KNIVES

The price is £27 and you can pay via the paypal button below.