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Sallerup flint

Material name: Sallerup flint
Synonyms: Limhamn flint, glassy Senonian flint, Skåne flint.
Material (geologic): Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) flint.

Detail of Upper Cretaceous flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007

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General characteristics

(In part adapted from Olausson et al. 1980 and Rudebeck 1986 & 1987

Geographical setting: The prehistoric mining complex of Kvarnby/Södra Sallerup is located in the southernmost part of Sweden, Scania/Skåne, just to the East of Malmö. The landscape here was formed during the last glacial (Weichsel), when most of Scandinavia was covered by glaciers.
Although most ice-flows were oriented along a northeast-southwest axis, sometime at the beginning of the last stadial, the situation must have been the other way around. During this period several very large slabs of the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) chalk that was lying in a broad belt between Eastern Denmark and Northern Germany were pushed to the North or Northeast and ended up in their present position.
During the final phases of the Weichsel glacial they were then covered in moraine of variable thickness: in some places the chalk lies just beneath the surface, elsewhere under a cover of some 30 metres of till. Due to the glacial transport, the chalk has been heavily cracked and is easily dug into. Since the middle of the 19th century this chalk has been exploited in numerous quarries in a strip some four kilometres long and up to 800 metres wide near the villages Kvarnby, S. Sallerup and Tullstorp.
Material and colour: The chalk at S. Sallerup is clearly of Upper Cretaceous age, and very similar to the material from Møn, Hvideklint and Rügen (link to be added). As in these places, the flints occurs in more or less continuous seams of nodules that have been tilted and folded by the pressure of the glaciers.
The flint can be described in the Scandinavian tradition as 'glassy Senonian flint' or generally as Nordic flint or chalk flint. It is mostly of a typical dark colour, ranging from dark gray to black, very fine-grained and translucent, but gray and more opaque material as well as banded varieties do also occur (see below). The cortex is smooth and very thin, mostly less than a millimetre in thickness, and is sharply delimited from the siliceous core.

The nodules are mostly quite irregular and of modest dimensions (10-15 cm), but can reach sizes of 40 cm. From a test pit 2.5 by 3 metres with a depth of 1.8 m a total of 127 nodules was obtained weighing more than 145 kg. Of these, the vast majority (95 pieces weighing nearly 80 kilos) were of very irregular shape and only 10 to 20 cm long. Only 11 nodules, together weighing 23 kg, were 15 to 25 cm long and of a shape suitable for the production of larger tools like axes (Rudebeck 1987: 151-152).

Other information: Kvarnby/Sallerup has been known as a prehistoric mining site since the beginning of the 20th century as a geologist visited the chalk quarries to look for an explanation for the numerous antlers that were being found there. He discovered vertical shafts approx. 2 metres in diameter, dug through the covering glacial till, one to three metres into the chalk. At the bottom of the shafts there were horizontal workings.

Larger scale excavations have been carried out in the 1970ies and 1980ies by the Malmö museum. At the surface, no traces of mining were visible and the shafts could only be documented after the stripping of the topsoil. They were then sectioned and mechanically dug down to the chalk where the bottom part was excavated. The shafts were mostly 3-4.5 metres wide near the surface and around 2 metres in diameter near the bottom where side workings up to approx. 1 meter were dug out to mine the flint. The depth of the shafts varies between 2.5 and 7 meters, although there are also areas where the flint was mined in open cast pits, seldom exceeding 2 meters in depth.
In all a few dozen mining shafts could be excavated, but large scale stripping for a new quarry in 1982-83 uncovered an area with some 400 shafts to the northeast of Ängdala farm. This area has been declared a protected archaeological monument and was covered with soil again. No further investigations have taken place on this site since the middle of the 1980ies.

The fill of the shafts mostly consists of reworked moraine and chalk with locally numerous flint flakes. The lower part with the side workings was mostly filled with pure chalk, which indicates that most chalk wasn't brought to the surface but piled at the sides of the shafts and the exhausted side workings. Due to the very crumbly nature of the parent rock, no real galleries could be dug, and even with the very limited side workings there are some indications for roof-collapse.

Most tools found are the classical pics made out of red deer antlers, of which quite a few were found. In some shafts marks left by these pics could be observed in the side workings. Apart from antler tools some (fragments of) scapulae were found that could have been used as shovels, as well as some flint tools of uncertain typology that might have served as pics (Olausson et al. 1980, fig. 180; Rudebeck 1986, fig. 39).
A special feature at Kvarnby/Södra Sallerup is the rather frequent conservation of impressions left by decayed wood. Not only some handles of tools could be documented this way, but there are also traces of posts which are interpreted as substructions of platforms and some ladders. These ladders consisted of trees where the branches were cut off with the resulting stumps serving as the rungs.

Knapping notes: The Upper Cretaceous/Maastrichtina/Senonian flint is of excellent quality, although most nodules are quite small and irregular. As there are no direct primary exposures accessible in the area, the only flint that can be collected is from the sides of the now water-filled former quarries (see below). If these nodules are completely representative of the material mined is unclear, but seems likely as very well knappable material is plentiful.
On the other hand, quite a few nodules do show some internal flaws, but this seems to be the case even for the mined flint. In one prehistoric shaft some 300 tested nodules have been found that all were discarded either because the were too small and/or irregular, or had some internal damage
Archaeological description: The dating of the mines near Malmö is somewhat problematical. There are several 14C dates which range from 5080 ± 65 (Lu-1636) to 4560 ± 70 (Lu-2102) BP, which calibrate from 3987-3710 (2σ, 95.4%) BC to 3385-3083 BC (77.7% probability within the 2σ range). These dates fall all within the local Early Neolithic TRB/Funnel Beaker culture, but if one looks at the type of tools that were produced, mainly thick-butted axes and some daggers, it is clear that the mining site has been active in later times too. The knapping waste as well as the rejected blanks and preforms on the site indicate that the production was mostly oriented towards the manufacturing of blanks for polished flint axes.
Other dating finds like ceramics are, as usual on flint mining sites, very sparse. There are some shards of TRB pottery, but in the upper fills of some shafts Early and Late Bronze Age material (a pair of bronze tweezers and ridge decorated pottery) has been found too. It is unclear if this material represents "contamination" or reflects very late flint mining as seen on other sites like Wierzbica-"Zele", the chocolate flint mine in Poland, or Krumlovský Les in the Czech Republic.
In one very large shaft, excavated in 1951, several shards of Roman Iron Age pottery were recovered from the lowest fill of the pit (Althin 1951), clearly indicating that some activity has been going on at the site in much more recent periods, be it flint- or chalk mining.

Due to the general type of flint extracted at Sallerup it is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine the distribution of the mined material, as similar types of flint can be found in a wide region around the southwestern part of the Baltic Sea. During the Neolithic there has been a widespread "trade" in the Baltic region. Especially from Central and Northern Sweden, where good quality raw material is completely absent, several very large hoards of rough-outs and finished axes are known. The raw material of these tools comes from Southern Scandinavia and consist of Senonian flint as well as Danian flint, but the exact provenience, Scania or Denmark, remains unknown. Based on the rolled cortex of many pieces, it has been suggested that the most likely source of this flint are coastal deposits like Fornæs or more likely Stevns Klint (links to be added) and other sources on the eastern coast of Zealand/Sjælland (Becker 1952).
In this light, it seems probable that most material mined in Sallerup will have been used in the wider area of Scania but didn't enter the long-distance exchange networks.

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Ängdala Farm
Locality: Ängdala Farm, Södra Sallerup/Kvarnby, Scania, Sweden
Synonyms: Mining site S 1 'Kvarnby', according to the catalogue of the museum in Bochum, 3rd edition (Weisgerber et al. (eds.) 1999). FlintSource sample 380.
Geographical description: Södra Sallerup, mostly shortened to S. Sallerup and Kvarnby are (former) villages that are now part of the western Husie district of Malmö in S.W. Sweden. They lie at both sides of the eastern ring road around Malmö that is part of the main westcoast motorway that connects the Öresund Bridge with the cities of Malmö, Landskrona and Helsingborg. It is a flat, morenic landscape without any exciting landmarks.
Between Kvarnby, S. Sallerup and Tullstorp there is a chain of former chalk pits that exploited the large, ice-pushed slabs of Upper cretaceous chalk that lie in the glacial till. In several of these pit prehistoric flint mines have been found, notably near Kvarnby in the southwest and the farmstead of Ängdala, half a kilometre north of the church at S. Sallerup. The whole area leaves a bit of a run-down impression, mostly due to the motorway that cuts directly through it.
Geographical co-ordinates: Lat. 55° 35' 21.3" N
Long. 013° 07' 12.4" E
(Mapdatum WGS 84)

In cooperation with our technical partner I/O-graph, we offer a transformation-service for the coordinates of the sampled sites. Just click here to send a mail.

Co-ordinate precision: The co-ordinates given where taken where the photo below was taken with a hand-held GPS receiver, and thanks to the relatively clear horizon won't be off by more than a few metres. They point to the former chalk pit directly to the south of Ängdala farm, as seen in the photo below.
Other topographical information: The site of Ängdala is easy to reach from the E20 motorway at the the eastern side of Malmö, which road you leave at the aptly named Södra Sallerup interchange. Take the road to the east in the direction of Klågerup, and leave it at the first possibility to the north, which is only 300 metres east of the motorway. After another 300 metres you see Ängdala farm and several disused, water-filled chalk pits at the left hand side of the road. Park your car somwhere, and proceed on foot. If you brought any of the maps from the relevant publications (Olausson et al. 1980, Rudebeck 1986 and 1987), you will easily be able to identify the areas where the flint mines have been found, and are still present in the underground.
Additional information: Former chalk pit at Sallerup
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2003
  In the photo above you seen the former chalk quarry directly to the south of Ängdala farm, where mining shafts have been excavated in 1977-78 (detailed plan in Rudebeck 1986, fig. 4). Not realy an exciting sight, but at least something can be seen on the surface.
Visitors information: As we did our sampling on a quick day-trip around Southern Sweden/Skåne during our trip through Denmark, we can't tell you much about the (touristic) infrastructure in the area. The immediate surroundings of the site didn't look too promising, but as Malmö, Swedens 3rd largest city, is literally just around the corner, you will probably be able to find anything in the line of food, accomodation and entertainment you will be wanting around there.
Sampling information: Accessing the former chalk-pits is quite easy, although the soutwestern ones near Kvarnby seem to have been incorporated into a large golf course. We don't know if we have been tresspassing in visiting the water-filled pit depicted above, but we didn't climb any fences to get there, so it was probably OK. There is a larger pit a few dozen metres to the north, which now serves as a fishpond, and is certainly freely accessible.
Flint at the surface is quite plentyful, although more so in the southern area. Alas, no section or larger exposure is available, so you have to make do with the material that is lying around. Like on any other site which is not an active quarry with a continuous fresh supply of material: don't be too greedy and only take what you need for private purposes.
  Dark flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007
Flake of typical dark, glassy flint
size: 44 mm
Translucent flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007
Very fine, translucent Maastrichtian flint
size: 49 mm
  Patchy flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007
Large flake of dark flint with lighter core and
only partially silicified patches
size: 80 mm
Light fine flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007
Flake of fine-grained flint with typical thin cortex
length: 72 mm
Sample description: The stones depicted here give a good idea of the material that still can be found around Ängdale Farm. On the top row there are two pieces of the classical dark 'Senonian flint': very fine-grained, translucent, with very thin cortex and a predominant colour predominantly around 2.5Y 2.5-3/1 (very dark gray to black) but also a bit lighter 10YR-2.5Y 5 and 4/1 (gray to dark gray). The patches with higher chroma are due to the translucency of the flint.
In the second row the material is basically still the very fine and translucent material, but with coarser, less silicified areas (left) or a lighter colour 2.5Y 5-6/1 (gray) with white spots.

Below are three examples of a slightly different type of material. The flake in the first row to the left comes from a nodule of opaque, medium to coarse flint with frequent inclusions of fossils. The basic colour is gray to light grey, N6-7.
Next there is a piece of a banded variety not unlike the material from the island of Falster in Southern Denmark. The medium grained mass is only very slightly translucent, with very little difference between the lighter and darker bands, although the latter are a trifle less opaque. Colour ranges from (dark) gray (N4-5) to light grey (N7) with the somewhat coarser part a bit less neutral at 10YR-2.5Y 6-7/1 (gray to light gray).

The bottommost piece is medium to fine grained, nearly opaque gray flint, mostly 5N to 10YR 5/1 according to the Munsell scale, with a lighter patch 10YR 7/1.

  Opaque flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007
Coarse-grained grey and opaque flint
length: 58 mm
Banded flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007
Piece of banded 'Senonian' flint
size: 59 mm
  light flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2007
Lighter coloured, medium-grained flint
size: 51 mm


Last modified on:
December 24, 2007
Contents primarily by:
Rengert Elburg
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