This deeply pitted landscape could have been created by many natural or mechanical forces. It is as reminiscent of a historical battlefield, as it is of the surface of the moon, but the reality is far more interesting because it was actually formed by human hands, during the Neolithic period. During that time, what appears now to be (relatively) shallow craters were actually over four hundred flint mines that were dug by humans, using antlers and animal bone. Most of the mines have since collapsed - I mean, we're talking as far back as 3000 BC - but one was structurally sound enough to be opened to the public.
|Obligatory hard hats.|
On the surface, all that you can really see are these pitted fields, running on and on until they hit the edge of the Thetford forest. Climb down the reinforced ladder, however, and you find yourself in a cylindrical, stone chamber, with a series of tunnels snaking off and away under the ground. These pathways are barred off after a certain point, obviously. Imagine the health and safety implications of allowing tourists to crawl around in them. They require that you wear hard hats as it is.
I'm not sure why you would want to explore too deeply into them anyway. Just thinking about those miners lying on the cold, damp stone for hours and hours, slowly chipping away at the wall, with only the dim light of an animal fat lamp to see by gives me the chills. Peering into the tunnels, you can still see soot from the lamps on walls.
|Bob the Builder.|
|A glimpse into a tunnel. Looks massive. Is actually just big enough for a human to crawl around in.|
|Descent into darkness.|
Needless to say, as amazing as it was down there, it was just as much of a relief to get back up to the light.