Mons Card Partner: Free access
Nestled in a lush green setting, the “Silex’s” is an interpretation centre dedicated to the Neolithic mines in Spiennes that will be opening its doors in April 2015 to introduce visitors to all aspects of this internationally renowned archaeological site. The centre will help to protect, promote and improve access to this archaeological site. Visitors will be able to follow educational trails around the site and in the pavilion, they will able to walk around looking over the archaeological digs. The highlight is a trip down into a real Neolithic mine 9 metres deep – you will need to book ahead for this experience, and extreme care must be taken. Come and explore this exceptional archaeological site! Recognised by UNESCO in 2000, the Spiennes mining site is one of the oldest and largest flint mining centres in Europe. Studded with thousands of shafts, the site covers 100 hectares and is 6km from Mons. It bears witness to the evolution of the first sedentary societies and is a unique research site. By digging down mine shafts up to 16 metres deep, Neolithic man developed the techniques needed to extract large slabs of slate that could weigh up to hundreds of kilograms. They also honed their knapping expertise, which is now recognised as an example of human ingenuity. Discovered in 1867, when the area was being dug out for a railway line between Mons and Chimay, the site has been excavated ever since. The oldest mines and knapping areas found there are 6,400 years old. As well as the unbelievable number of shards of flint that fill the ground at Spiennes, confirming that once the flint has been brought to the surface, it was cut there too, excavations have uncovered thousands of objects including axes, flint blades and pottery, but also the remains of wildlife and human skeletons. Nearby, an enclosed Neolithic village has also been discovered but remains as yet unexplored.