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A simple stone, or is it?

This is a pot boiler.

Woodland wanders that lead off into the prehistoric...


This little bit of burnt flint can transport you back several thousand years, or more with a little thought. It was probably last used by prehistoric people to heat their food, not far from where it was found. A sign of ancient occupation, people lived here in these woods thousands of years ago, who knows, it might not have been woodland then. We find little things like this in our wanders through the loneliest parts of the woods. A simple connection over the ages 🙂


Pot boiler prehistoric cooking stone
A flint pot boiler

Pot boilers like this can date from the the Bronze age through the Neolithic into the Mesolithic

and far further into the misty past of human history. Simple technology like this is partly how we're all still here today. Along with fire, cooking food is such an important thing.

Pot boilers would likely have started off life as a pebble that was placed, along with others around the same size into a fire to heat up. After a short time they would be removed with simple wooden tongs, quickly dipped into a waiting receptacle of water and then placed into the cooking food, most likely some kind of stew.

Repeated cycles of this will heat up and get the liquid boiling, so cooking the food. The heat of the fire and sudden cooling eventually starts to break down the stone and when they get too small they get discarded. You can see the heat crazing on this flint.



Flint pot boiler
Flint pot boiler

Prehistoric flint pot boiler
Prehistoric flint pot boiler

So, as you wander along the lanes and holloways woodlarking, keep an eye out for these pot boilers. If you see one, pick it up and give it a thought. You'll be connecting with someone from thousands of years ago that cooked a hot, tasty meal. Even after all this time, we're not that far removed from those that went before.

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1 Comment


Sue Ward
Sue Ward
Jan 28

It's beautiful because of its flaws... Cracks and other scars mark an object or being that has led a productive life. Would it be prettier without them? Perhaps, but we'll never know. We should learn to accept things for what they are - not try to determine what they looked like in the past.

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