Flint-working to be passed on to younger generations in Norfolk
English Heritage properties in Norfolk are to benefit from a new heritage apprenticeship programme, designed to pass the dying skill of flint-knapping to a younger generation.
Binham Priory, Blakeney Guildhall, Burgh Castle Roman Fort, Caister Roman Fort, Castle Acre Bailey Gate and Castle Acre Castle will gain from the ground-breaking scheme.
Also benefitting will be Castle Acre Priory, Castle Rising Castle and Norman Church, Creake Abbey, Thetford Priory and Gatehouse, and Weeting Castle.
This is the largest donation ever received by English Heritage.
The programme will see the establishment of a new heritage skills training centre in East Anglia, the creation of an inhouse heritage crafts team at English Heritage and safeguard the future of 34 flint castles and abbeys in the east of England.
It will highlight the opportunities of working on heritage buildings to thousands of school children, offer hands on experience for student trainees and create over 50 new apprenticeship roles.
Gerard Lemos, chair of English Heritage, said: “Both the landscape of East Anglia and the lives of its people have historically been defined by flint, with skills apprenticeships passed down over generations.
“That’s no longer happening, and both the buildings and the people have been the poorer for it.
“With the extremely generous support of the Hamish Ogston Foundation for which we are immensely grateful, our new skills apprenticeships will provide a radical new approach to address the decline.
“This investment is not just in the past – through saving English Heritage sites as well as homes and churches across the region – but in the future, by providing fulfilling careers for this, and subsequent generations.”
Robert Bargery, heritage project director of the Hamish Ogston Foundation, said: “Heritage skills like flint knapping are the timeless threads that weave our past with our future.
“The art of flint-knapping is at a severe risk of extinction with only a handful of specialists left in the UK.
“This latest grant from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to English Heritage will help to secure a new generation of specialists, so that we can combat this skills shortage and ensure that historic buildings at-risk can be preserved for years to come.”
With around a third of its historic buildings containing flint and only a handful of skilled flint-workers remaining, East Anglia has some of the most significant conservation needs as well as the most severe shortage of heritage craft skills in the country.
Flint-knapping is listed as endangered on the Heritage Crafts Red List.
The seven year programme will see the training of 48 young heritage skills apprentices along with three professional apprentices.
It will specialise in conservation in flint and rubble and ensure that the few remaining skilled craftspeople can pass down their vital craft to a younger generation.
As well as the formal apprenticeships, which will be developed over the next 12 months, the centre will work to raise the profile of heritage skills as a career choice by welcoming local primary and secondary school children through school visits and activities.
It will also provide hands-on training sessions to 450 further education construction students to broaden their understanding of heritage conservation techniques.