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Flint masterpieces return to Brandon

Published: Wednesday 20th September 2017 at 10:00

Flint masterpieces return to Brandon

The flint panel masterpieces, created by William Carter in the second half of the 19th century have found a new home at the Brandon Heritage Centre where they will help tell the fascinating story of Flint in the Brecks.

The Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership team was made aware of the existence of the Brandon Library flint murals as a result of research carried out by the scheme's 'Flint in the Brecks' project being delivered by the Breckland Society. The 7 panels were made by Master flint knapper William Carter (1857–1904) of the Gun & Building Flint Manufacturers, in Brandon, and donated to the Brandon Library by five of his descendants.

Darren Norton, Brandon Heritage Centre Manager said: "These panels represent what an expert Brandon flintknapper could achieve, simply using hand tools and an expert eye for how flint flakes apart, and will be key for the centre in telling the story of Brandon flintknapping. When you view the panels, look at the intricacy of the horse ears and legs, and also how each shape interconnects with the next.  Then look to our recreation of a flintknapper’s shed and see how basic it is. This will show you how skilful the knapper was."

They were flagged up by members of the Breckland Society as potentially under threat because the old library was expected to be demolished at some point, and their future was unclear.

Following discussions between the BNG team, Suffolk County Council and Brandon Town Council as well as the family of William Carter, a rescue plan was hatched. With money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, made available through the BNG 'People's Pot' grant scheme, specialist contractors engaged to excavate the built-in panels from the wall, and put into storage until a new home could be found.

This week, Mr Norton announced that the centre has secured funding to refurbish its flint display, including housing the flint panels in dedicated units, which it is hoped will be completed by April next year.  For now, the panels are in temporary displays at the centre, in the popup display room, which is open every Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 4pm, until the end of October, with free admission.  The centre not only tells the story of flint but also Brandon's rabbit fur industries, the connection to the forest – important even before Thetford Forest; and the town’s social history from medieval to present day, via the World Wars.  To get a taste of what is happening at the centre just visit its website, www.brandonheritage.org.uk.

Brandon Heritage Centre Trustee and Suffolk County Councillor Victor Lukaniuk said: "I must say that Nick Dickson [BNG Project Manager] and Julie Kennard at the Archaeological centre for Suffolk County Council were extremely helpful regarding the handing over of our precious flint panels. It really was exciting driving back to Brandon with some of our outstanding and important heritage. Can't wait to get them mounted and displayed. Once again a big' thank you" to Archaeological Services Suffolk."

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