Natural vermiform objects usually have a more consistent diameter. Also, if they were fossil, I would expect them to show some sort of erosion or natural granularity on the surface; and if modern, they would not be as hard as you describe.
So I am fairly sure these will turn out to be man-made and probably industrial. That's supported by the signs of vesicles (bubbles) in the underside shots, and the general aspect of the underside.
I can't quite tell if your specimen is metallic or non-metallic. Please test that electrically eg. using a make-shift low voltage circuit comprising torch light, battery and wire.
- see if there is any reaction with a magnet (I suspect not)
- determine its density (to determine the volume, immerse in water and note the volume displaced; and weigh on kitchen scales to nearest gramme)
While awaiting the results of those tests...
I imagine your specimen(s) arose in an industrial process involving moulding or casting metal(copper?)/ceramic/other, and your pieces are waste extruded through escape holes in the mould, falling to the floor where they coalesced on their undersides, but chilled on the uppersides - hence retaining the worminess we see today.
So was/is there suitable industry near Smarden?
It really would be useful to have some corroboration.
Well, not that I have found; woollen industry centuries ago, yes.
I suggest you show your specimen/conundrum, eg. using this discussion, to:
- The Kent Archaeological Society
- The Smarden History Society and Heritage Centre
(and note the links here - http://smardenheritagecentre.synthasite.com/LINKS.php)
- links here - http://www.local-history.co.uk/Groups/kent.html
Hi Mike - Thanks very much for your reply which I have only just found - it had gone into my spam folder.I actually belong to the Lenham Archaeological Society (next village on) and they have no ideas about it either.No known industry in the area as it has always been sheep,wool and farming.I have to say I'm convinced it's organic by the feel of it as it is extremely light. I was wondering if I sent you a couple of pieces would you be able to examine them to help unravel the mystery of what it is.
'Extremely light' - that's interesting.
Did you do the other tests I mentioned?
Despite the lightness, please check electrical conductivity and magnetism.
Hardness is also of interest: can you scratch it with kitchen knife?, glass (or does it scratch glass, eg. a bottle)?, finger nail.
Give me the answers and we'll go from there.
(Now I'm wondering if it is pottery.)
In any case, I should point out that I am not on NHM staff; I'm a ex-geologst amongst other things, living in Cyprus.
Hi Mike - So have done the tests on it - no electrical conductivity or magnetism.Put a piece weighing 4grams into water and a couple of hours later and after drying it the piece weighed 5gms.On the wormy side it will not scratch with the point of a sharp knife but on the reverse small particles can be scratched off and no it does not scratch glass or other material,plastic,metal etc.
Thanks for those test results.
So, it is water-absorbent; that's curious - it is porous and water-wettable.
I'm perlexed by the hardness: it is harder than knife steel but softer than plastic!?
On balance, I lean a bit further towards my pottery idea, perhaps slag/waste from ceramic extrusion?
So, I don't have much of an answer for you.
I suggest, if you want to send it somewhere for closer inspection, you send/take it to the Angela Marmont Centre - http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/darwin-centre-visitors/marmont-centre/.
Contact them first and have them look at this discussion - as a means of seeing your specimens, and seeing where we've got to. Then be guided by them.
If you do get a good answer, one way or another, please post back here!