Guides to Grime’s Graves

Grime's Graves

DOE Reprint 1975 (1963)

The first Ministry of Works guide to the neolithic mines at Grime’s Graves in Norfolk was replaced by an illustrated guide in 1963. (This copy is the 1975 Department of the Environment reprint.) It was written by Roy Rainbird Clarke (1914-63), the Director of the City of Norwich Museums, and son of one of the founders of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia.

Clarke’s guide has key sections: The Exploration of the Site; The Flint-mining Industry; Mining Technique; The Miners; The Axe Trade; After the Neolithic Period; there is a short description of the site essentially describing Pit 1. There is a fold-out card plan inside the back cover. (Note that the Custodian’s hut was in a slightly different location.)

The guide includes several reconstructions by Alan Sorrell: a ‘section’ through one of the pits showing how flint was quarried (p. 2); ‘How the miners extracted flint’ (pp. 16-17); ‘ritual ceremony among prehistoric flint-miners’ (p. 20); three views of ‘why the flint was mined’ (p. 25). One of them is clearly dated 1963 so presumably they were commissioned for the guide.

The format of the guide makes it contemporary with the illustrated guide to Stonehenge and Avebury, as well as for the Edwardian castles in Wales, and monasteries in Yorkshire.

Grime's Graves

(2011)

The latest guide is by Peter Topping. The tour includes ‘Setting and landscape’ with an image of a stone curlew that sometimes nest at the site. There is a useful section on ‘Flint and its formation’. Those interested in the post-neolithic use of the site will find discussion (and reconstruction) of Grimshoe Mound  dating to the late Saxon period, and foxholes made by the Home Guard in World War 2.

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