En flintsmedie på Fornæs


  • P.V. Glob


Fornæs, smedje


A Flint Smithy at Fornæs

Between Sangstrup Klint and the easternmost point of Jutland, Fornæs, an ancient shoreline lies at a height of seven meters above the present sealevel. This raised beach consists principally of flint and limestone, the debris washed down during the Litorina period some 5000 years ago from Sangstrup Klint and deposited a few hundred meters further to the southeast.

In the Late Neolithic Period, about 1500 BC, the rich flint deposits of the raised beach were exploited to a considerable extent as raw material for flint implements and flint blanks, undoubtedly mainly intended for export. A cross­section through the beach at the site of the workplace shows in what degree the flint was worked (fig. 2). The limestone fragments are still there and a very few flint nodules, but all the rest of the flint has been completely used. That the flint originated from Sangstrup Klint is established by a comparison with the flint seams which show as dark bands against the white limestone (fig. 3). The main part of the flint is black with a slight brown tone, but lighter flint, light brown, light gray and gray, is also used.

In the course of excavation several areas were uncovered where numerous flint flakes and other swarf lay collected in heaps where the flint-smiths had worked, while the pieces of limestone had been thrown to one side as unusable and now lie in a circle around the workplaces (figs. 4-5). At one point the points of six flint daggers were found lying almost on the same spot while the corresponding hilts had been thrown 2-3 meters further away (fig. 6). The flint-smith had held the dagger by the hilt while working and had thrown the hilt to one side when the point broke off, as a result of faulty striking or a fault in the flint, and fell to the ground.

The objects found at Fornæs consist entirely of flint swarf, objects broken during working and the tools used for the work. Potsherds have only been found at one place, consisting of a score of fragments of the same undecorated vessel. Traces of fires have also been discovered but nothing which would suggest a settlement at the site. A total of 663 implements, pieces of implements and pieces of flint with sufficient working to give them a definite shape has been found, while within the same area 7495 fragments of flint chippings have been counted.

A large part of the material consists of flint blanks, roughly worked pieces designed for export in the unfinished state. They consist partly of rectangular blocks, blanks for axes, of which 69 complete and 63 fragmentary have been found (fig. 9), and partly of twosided almondshaped pieces, 76 complete and 90 fragmentary, which are blanks for daggers, spearpoints or corn sickles (fig. 10). One of the types which occurs most frequently is the corn sickle of which 49 complete and 87 fragmentary specimens have been found (fig. 11). A number of the almondshaped blocks may have been intended as spearpoints of which four complete specimens have been discovered (fig. 12). Broken spearpoints are difficult to distinguish from the points of flint daggers, of which 24 have been found, as well as 46 hilts. Two complete flint daggers, as well as one showing traces of fire (fig. 12), together with the 12 arrowheads discovered (fig. 13), date the Fornæs site to the Late Neolithic Period. A small, short, often threesided flint object, of which 21 examples have been found, is a "strike-a-light" (fig. 12). Another type with a short beak, often worn at the point, may have been used for the fine pressure-flaked retouch of the arrowheads and daggers (fig. 13). Axes, in the normal meaning of the term, do not occur; apart from the blanks already mentioned only three small axeshaped pieces, unpolished and perhaps only toys, are found (fig. 14). A massive shafthole axe, broken at the shafthole, and round and oval beachstones (fig. 14) have been used in working the flint. The only actual implements found are 25 flake scrapers as well as fragments of polishing stones. The latter were probably used for grinding nodules of flint during the working.

As stated above, the Fornæs flint-smithy dates from the end of the New Stone Age, the middle part of the Late Neolithic Period, a time when bronze was being imported into the country in steadily increasing quantities. Flint was, however, still in use in Denmark, especially for daggers and corn sickles, as this discovery among others shows, while the flint axe was rapidly going out of use. A possibility suggests itself that perhaps the majority of the imple­ments manufactured at Fornæs, particularly the numerous flint blanks, were intended for export to the districts of Sweden and Norway which are almost without flint, districts in which so many flint implements of Danish origin are found. Goods have perhaps been received in exchange from these lands which were in turn traded south in exchange for bronze. Such a transit trade, particularly in this period, when bronze reaches Denmark in large quantities and in the course of a few centuries renders the old and honoured flint almost superfluous as a raw material for tools and weapons, is by no means unlikely, as the metal-producing lands in Central and Western Europe have certainly not given their bronze for nothing. And large quantities were needed to re-equip Stone Age Denmark for a Bronze Age economy. Not only must normal day-to­day requirements be covered; the dead too demanded their tons of the precious metal as grave furnishings. The flint-smiths of Fornæs, together with the merchants who exported their complete and semi-manufactured wares, have therefore perhaps been instrumental in bringing to the country that metal which gradually undermined their own venerable craft, flint working.

P.V. Glob.





Glob, P. (1951). En flintsmedie på Fornæs. Kuml, 1(1), 23–39. Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/kuml/article/view/24753