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

So, why did I mention that Mons in Magical in the last post? why do I feel its 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.
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 under ground which are only accessible with a ladder and with 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 was 10! So Mr.V generously accepted to stay above ground and take care of Atyudarini while I explored the mines!

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 (filled with debris of another mine) 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.

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 stone-age), the process of mining, the process of weapon making, the locations of various other similar sites etc.

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 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 which are horizontal tunnels formed after reaching the desired depth. 

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 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 in the underground mine every day so prior booking is necessary via email/phone to Visit Mons. Also its open only in spring and summer.

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To Stay:
Hotels and B&Bs at all price points are available in Mons Town Centre.
Here’s my review of Hotel Dream where I stayed.

To Get There:
From Mons Railway staion: 6km
Nearest bus stop: Hyon Eglise served by City'O Circuit
This is located 1.8km from the site and buses run every 15 mins from Mons Station.

Entry Ticket & Timings:
Its open only Spring and Summer - Tue to Sun: 10AM to 4PM
Only 36 (12 x 3) people are allowed in the underground mines everyday.
Individual entry ticket of ground floor exhibition: 6€
Individual entry ticket incl underground flint mines descent: 14€
Group entry ticket (upto 12 persons) only for underground flint mines descent: 95€
Reservation can be done via phone or email - +32 6533 5580 or groupes@ville.mons.be
Visit for individuals is only during weekends and group visits are possible during weekdays.


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 to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

14 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. its great article, i always wanted to go for research but never get a chance. thanks for sharing with us.

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  14. Sounds very exciting and interesting.

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