The Mons region is full of history still being uncovered today. The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes is one of the most popular tourist destinations for visitors interested in discovering evidence of early civilizations in the region. You’ll find this UNESCO World Heritage Site just minutes away from the congress hotel in mons.
So, what are the Neolithic Flint Mines?
The Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes are some of the largest and earliest discovered flint mines in North-western Europe. The mines date back to the mid to late Neolithic period when they are predicted to have been used between 4,300 and 2,200 BC. Such historic dates allow the mines to provide evidence of early signs of human ingenuity.
The Neolithic flint mines were excavated to mine flint. They are now appreciated for showcasing advanced technology for excavations. In the year 2000, the mines were recognized as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The mine site covers an area of over 250 acres. There could potentially be 1000’s of flint mines in the region, although only a handful have been fully excavated. The mines are instrumental in the discovery of Neolithic techniques for mining and working the raw flint material for other purposes.
History of the Neolithic Flint Mines
The Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes were rediscovered in 1843. Mines began to be uncovered while digging for a new railway in the region. Once multiple of these mine shafts were found with such proximity to each other, excavation projects arose to focus on uncovering the shafts and learning more about the historical dig site.
Excavations led to revealing numerous vertical mine shafts that were used to access the underground mines. The shafts descend 10 meters underground where a man-made network of caves was created for digging and mining flint.
Although flint was available above ground, speculations over why the old civilization preferred to utilize the flint underground. Flint was a popular material used for making tools and weapons. During the Neolithic period, the flint was often sharpened and polished into axes for clearing the surrounding forests for timber to make huts and canoes.
Visiting the Neolithic Flint Mines
Today, the Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes draw tourist hoping for a glimpse into the past of the Mons region. The mines are found in a predominantly agricultural area near Walloon village of Spiennes. It’s approximately a 10-minute drive Southeast of the four star hotel in Mons.
The mines are open to the public Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM. During this time, guided tours are provided for entering the actual mines. The entire mine site, both above ground and under is still covered with flint, many of which have been shaped for evidence of early use. There are also several mining pits.
In addition to the mine tour, the site includes a visitors’ centre and museum. The museum exhibition offers lots of information about the mines and features recovered artefacts from the mines.
The Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes is a great destination for adults and kids for experiencing the mines.