Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes, Mons (Wallonia - Belgium)

MONS - BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN BELGIUM FOR HISTORY ENTHUSIASTS 
So, why did I mention that Mons in Magical in the last post on the review of Martin's Dream Hotel Mons? Why do I feel it is the Cultural Capital of Belgium? Well, Mons isn't as popular as Brussels or Bruges, but Mons has a total of 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in and around it (that's actually 4 in the UNESCO list, but individual sites counts to 8 - read more about this count) plus 2 UNESCO recognized events, plus a UNESCO Memory of the World collection as well. Let's begin this with the Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes, in the outskirts of Mons.

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

VISITING SILEX'S (NEOLITHIC FLINT MINES AT SPIENNES)
I came to know of this place about 9-10 months back when I was in the 3rd trimester. The problem was then, pregnant women aren't allowed here. Reason - that in the above pic. The mines are located 10 meters underground which are only accessible with a ladder and with a big bump in front of you, climbing down a ladder isn't really safe. Now, I thought I could back carry her in a baby carrier and go down, but when I went there I realized that wouldn't be safe either, and anyways, the minimum age to enter the caves is 10! So Mr.V generously accepted to stay above ground and take care of Atyudarini while I explored the mines!

UNDERGROUND TOUR OF NEOLITHIC FLINT MINES AT SPIENNES
I was accompanied underground by the guide Mr.Pierre, so all photos of me from inside the mine were clicked by him! Here's him in front of a closed mine (filled with the debris of another mine). My regular readers would know I always have an emotional attachment to pre-historic sites, may it be Anegundi, or Dholavira or StoneHenge... The very feel that our great great great grandparents walked those very sites, ages and ages ago. This site is a Neolithic site meaning New Stone Age, which is about 6000 years ago. Mining has happened in this site from 4350 to 2300 BCE.

SILEX'S INTERACTIVE CENTRE (GROUND FLOOR EXHIBITION)
The car park is located a few metres away from the site and a ramp reaches the actual mine site. To begin with, there is a detailed explanation of what flints are (stones used to make weapons in stoneage), the process of mining, the process of weapon-making, the locations of various other similar sites etc.

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

WHAT ARE FLINT MINES?
Originally Flints were formed out of compressed Sea Sponge & Silica found in the cretaceous era, which with time got became land, got compressed and dehydrated. The sediment around it becomes chalk over time. Recreated samples of the flint axes in various stages can be seen which end with a super polished stone. I was told that to achieve that level of polished perfection takes about 8-20 hrs but in reality, it takes a couple months, as they weren't full-time weapon makers, but had to do this in free time.
There are actually thousands of mines (tunnel-shaped burrows varying from 3ft to 10ft) in this region. Stone age men used to dig one at a time, from the deepest point moving upwards, remove flint and in the process close it up as well, before proceeding to make another tunnel. Sometimes these shafts have galleries that are horizontal tunnels formed after reaching the desired depth. 

SILEX's NEOLITHIC FLINT MINES AT SPIENNES - UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN BELGIUM
Today there are several of these shafts in various depths. Though today these are interchangeably accessible, it wouldn't have been so in Stone Age days. Today while the underground labyrinth is interconnected, the access point is only through 1 mine (with another mine serving as a ventilator). The rest are closed on the surface.
 
As I mentioned earlier, the descent to the mine is using a 10m ladder and is supported by a safety harness. The temperature underground is maintained at 12°C and is dark at the beginning before they switch on the lights. Yes, it was a bit amusing to wear helmet and safety gear for a 10m depth (if you've done a bit of trekking or into active holidays, you'd relate to this feel), but they have their rules to follow. Obviously, pants and suitable shoes are required.
To preserve the place, the mine is open to only 36 people (12 x 3) are allowed to descend into the underground mine every day so prior booking is necessary via email/phone to Visit Mons. Also it is closed in winters. 

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

WHERE TO STAY IN MONS? - MONS HOTELS:
Mons Hotels and B&Bs at all price points are available in Mons Town Centre.
Here’s my review of Martin's Dream Hotel where I stayed.

HOW TO REACH NEOLITHIC FLINT MINES AT SPIENNES
From Mons Railway station: 6km
Where is Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes - On Google Maps: Silex's Neolithic Flint Mines
Nearest bus stop: Hyon Eglise served by the Mons town bus route City'O Circuit
This is located 1.8km from the site and buses run every 15 mins from Mons Station.

SILEX's NEOLITHIC FLINT MINES AT SPIENNES TICKETS
Individual entry ticket of ground floor exhibition: 6€ (free for Museumpassmusees holders)
Individual entry ticket incl underground flint mines descent (guided tour only): 14€
Group entry ticket (upto 12 persons) only for underground flint mines descent (guided tour): 95€

Only 36 (12 x 3) people are allowed to descend into the underground mines every day.
Reservation can be done via phone or email - +32 6533 5580 or groupes@ville.mons.be

GUIDED TOURS OF SILEX's NEOLITHIC FLINT MINES AT SPIENNES
Group visits are possible during weekdays in any language (reservation required).
Visit for individuals is possible only during weekends, to join one of the 3 tours (10:00AM, 11:30AM and 2:00PM). These guided tours are generally only in French. However, most guides speak other languages incl. Dutch, German, English etc. If you don't speak French it is better to inform them prior, so they can try to fit in a guide who knows the language.

SILEX's NEOLITHIC FLINT MINES AT SPIENNES OPENING HOURS
It is open only from April to November - Tue to Sun: 10AM to 4PM

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO

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MY COMPLETE MONS TRAVELOGUE (THINGS TO DO IN MONS)

MONS ITINERARY
Day 1 - Grand Hornu, Neolithic Splint mines at Spiennes
Day 2 - Bois du Luc, Ancient boat lifts & Strepy Theiu
Day 3 - City of Mons - Belfry, Mundaneum, Doudou Museum, Beaux-Arts Mons etc

P.S: I was invited by Visit Mons and Wallonia Tourism to experience the city for review purposes, however, the opinions are my own and this post does not advertise the product/service.

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO Pinterest Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Silexs Mons Wallonia UNESCO Pinterest

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

13 comments:

  1. Wooo! You made it to mines. I love mines and tunnels, one of weird attractions of mine. But yea, I like visiting and photographing weird stuff :)

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  2. Wow. A great activity to do and never thought I’d this when taking into account a place like Belgium. You have surely enjoyed it and great for anyone looking fir more adventure driven activities. The mine shafts look interesting Thanks for sharing the details specially to a point where you have given details of accommodation near as well.

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  3. This activity looks so fun! I've never experience mining before, just visiting a salt mine in Krakow. It's so cool to climb inside, see and touch it.

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  4. This is awesome! I love UNESCO and historic sites. We always go out of our way to see them when travelling. Yes, sometimes they do go a bit over the top with safety but I guess they have their rules :-)

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  5. I’m from a traditionally mining community in South Wales so love all things mining! This looks like a really cool one to visit, and one I hadn’t heard of before! You must have been itching to go back after first going while pregnant. It’s probably a good job you didn’t carry your baby down too - I can’t even imagine carrying a bag down that ladder let alone an actual baby human!

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  6. Wow! I knew Mons has some UNESCO heritage sites but had no idea they are so stunning! Thank you for sharing :)

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  7. Clarice Lao | Camping for WomenMay 27, 2018 at 10:16 PM

    This is so cool. I have always been amazed with historical relics and artifacts. I would love to visit these place. Also, I am so thankful for all the effort that UNESCO is extending to protect all these heritage sites.

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  8. While reading your stay at Mons, I was expecting you to introduce some historic wonderful post once again. Wow you have personally visited mines which I never thought of. A real lifetime experience and it is good that Mr. V took care of your little one. It is good that this flint mine follow all safety procedures.

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  9. That's such an incredible experience! I didn't know what flints are until your post. It is a good idea not to visit while you were pregnant - it didn't seem safe for you to climb that ladder!

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  10. I'm quite scared of heights so that ladder would be tricky for me, but I know I'd enjoy visiting the Neolithic flint mines. I love historical sites, and Mons is now firmly on my list. I just got home from Gent in Belgium this morning, so more Belgium is definitely welcome!

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  11. I have heard about Mons. I have a special interest in these world heritage sites of Europe. Now that this site has caught my attention, I would love to explore it.
    There are similar caves in Meghalaya in India with endless tunnels, I am yet to explore them but I am sure that the interiors will be of a similar style.

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  12. Bhushavali, The mines you talk of makes for interesting reading to know that folks back then spent 2 months of their daily free time in making a weapon/axe. Life was slow back then. So mines were dug to find this material only right? Don't think people could live here no?

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  13. Sounds very exciting and interesting.

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