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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Sherry Gloag

This is a part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Brat scheduled by Goddess Fish Promotions. In addition to being entered in our Spotlight contest, any comment on this post will also be included in the drawing for a free download of The Brat. You can follow Sherry's tour here. Remember, the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. One comment per stop will be counted, but feel free to dialogue with Sherry as you like.

I live in the beautiful English county of Norfolk, which in turn is part of an area known as East Anglia. It is an area rich in history dating way back before 2000BC, but it was around this time that the region began to rise in prominence.

The locals discovered, and began mining, good quality flint at Grimes Graves (in the neighbouring county of Suffolk).

Flint is a hard, and when processed, excellent stone for creating the finest quality tools for axes, spears, butchery, and cutting and digging almost anything the locals could think of.

To reach the flint, the workers cut shafts and tunnels through the sand and chalk to a depth of 30 feet, which radiated into interlinking galleries. They were narrow, hot, and stuffy, while above ground the landscape mirrored the realities of the inhabitants’ harsh lives.

The day I visited Grimes Grave the surface of the ground, pockmarked with tunnel openings lay bare and barren, whipped clean by the fierce winds that stripped the pine trees, in the far distance, of the needles and bent them until they resembled knarled figures crippled with arthritis. I couldn’t help thinking the essence of the place must have been even more bleak for the inhabitants all those centuries ago.

Visitors to the site can see original examples for themselves, as two shafts have been preserved by English Heritage for public viewing. Flint tools survived the bronze-age and only gave way to ‘modern’ implements at the start of the iron-age.

When the Romans arrived and imposed their rules and life-styles on the locals they faced stiff resistance. Their anger knew no bounds when they discovered the resistance was led by a woman and they doubled their efforts to quash the opponents. Queen Boudicca held out and caused the Romans more damage than they cared to admit before she was finally defeated.

Currently an archaeological excavation in Snettisham, not far from the Queens private country estate of Sandringham is underway and they are unearthing the most amazing discoveries. I visited this site during their second year of excavation and know that since then they have been rewriting some of the historical ‘facts’ of the times.

Many visitors to Britain enjoy their visits to this country, but miss so much when they stick to the more widely recognised tourist venues.

In the sands at Holme Beach the locals were outraged when during a summer of unusually low sea tides an ancient wooden Henge was removed ‘for preservation’ (It had been in the sands for centuries.)

Presenters of a popular television programme called Time Team were present at the excavation and during their three-day program their experts built a replica on private land at a nearby fruit farm. I had the opportunity to visit the new henge and can tell you the energy from the structure was incredible.

East Anglia is comprised of several counties, all jam-packed with ancient history, just waiting for you to enjoy.


Maureen said...

That is so interesting to see places and things that existed all that time ago.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

robynl said...

very interesting about flint; thanks for sharing.

Sherry Gloag said...

Maureen, I changed tack to this subject of past history because the 'past' plays such an integral part in Gina's life in The Brat. When I visited Grimes Gaves I couldn't begin to comprehend how clautrafobic (sp) those tunnels must have been. they worked had room eneough to crawl on their bellies to the tunnel face and had to work in a horizontal position.
In spite of the wide empty land I saw on my visit, I could still 'sense' their claustraphobia.
I wil never revisit because of that.
Perhaps because it was so hard to acquire flint was used for alomst anything you could think of, including -many centuaries later- building homes.

Sherry Gloag said...

robynl, in many parts of Britain you will find churches built of flint. They cut the large pieces of flint into squares, -called 'flint-knapping' and used them as we use bricks today.
Also, many small farmers cottages -now eagerly saught after as holiday homes by affluent city-dwellers - were built by the farm workers to house their families.
The farmers wanted the fileds cleared of stones(flints) so their could work the land and sow seeds, so the workers used the cleared 'rubble' to build some of the first small stone cottages in the area. (The affluent could afford to build with brick and stone, the workers could not).
this link is not a good example, but if you are interested enough I'm sure you can google several flint built properties :-)