Flint consists of hard lumps of silica formed in chalk. Quarried flints when knapped (split) are black but there are also field flints which can weather to a caramel colour, and are usually fractured or cobbles found on the beach, which are blue grey. Flint is found in the construction of historic buildings in the chalk belts which extend from Kent up to Norfolk. Care should be taken to match the colour, coursing, finish and pattern of flintwork found in local buildings, their detailing of which is often distinctive to the local area. Flint can be coursed, rough coursed or uncoursed.
Detailing can vary considerably. On the south coast, flint cobbles may be tarred. Fine work may be of squared knapped flint. The finest work is the flushwork found on 15th century East Anglian churches, where fine stone decorative detailing was filled with flint. Joints of flint or other stone may sometimes be filled with flint galletting or chips, supposedly to strengthen the joint. In the Brighton area, the term bungaroosh is used for the mix of herringbone brick and flint. Chequred patterns of chalk and flint are found in some areas, whilst in some cases bands of flint and brick are found. Quoins, arches and surrounds generally have to be of brick or stone.
There may be a tendency for flints to roll out of walls, often due to lack of maintenance or belling out where they have a rubble backing and are loosely tied in. It has been compared to building a wall out of footballs. Even walls that have not belled out can be detached from their backing, sometimes detected buy their hollow sound. A number of details have been devised to tie flint back to walls when building or rebuilding which can provide more stability. It is important that new flint matches local detail in size and colour. For instance, deep mined flint can be considerably larger than traditional sources found close to the surface.
This is a living document, in the sense that it will be updated and added to over time.
This edition dated June 2010.
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