Sunday 20 December 2009

Pot Boilers

Occasionally when you are walking through a field, you come across flints that have been in a fire - they have a characteristic light blue-grey colour and their surface is crazed like the glaze on old plates.

The usual explanation for these flints is that they are "pot boilers" - stones placed into the fire to heat up and then transferred to a pot of water to boil it.  On long winter evenings at Archaeological Society meetings in Victorian times, members would argue endlessly about whether this or that newly-found rock could be a pot boiler - this may be one of the sources for the phrase's modern idiomatic meaning of endless and pointless rumination about a subject of little or no real merit.

No doubt this is one way to heat water, though not a very efficient one.  But I wonder if the the many burned flints could represent some other activity?  It has been seriously suggested that they might be the remain of a prehistoric saua bath!  Heating flints can certainly alter their brittle qualities as a material so perhaps they wre experiments at "annealing" the stone.


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  5. Today the pot boiler is more popular than other boiler.I think the service is so effective of this boiler. It's really easy to carry in anywhere.It's also easy to repair. So I always prefer this boiler for it's easiness.

  6. It is difficult to believe that man-however early-would have chosen flint to heat cooking water. Why flint-there are other stones which are better and if they fractured, would not be into such small, sharp fragments. They are dated so early, that pottery had not reached such so as to allow food to be cooked in them, surely. Early pottery is not fired to the point of being hard enough to contain a stew (for example)and stay whole. You need a glaze to prevent fired clay from absorbing water and juices, for a start, and no glazing existed for hundreds of years -certainly in western Europe. Correct me, by all means. No pottery of pre-history and later has evidence of being on a fire or used for cooking----meat/skinned animal would have been spitted and held over the flames/embers. FAR tastier!! Could it be that flints attract all this attention,simply because the "craze" so easily, making them stand-out?