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880 Views 6 Replies Last post: Mar 26, 2014 11:51 AM by Florin - Museum ID team RSS
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Mar 2, 2014 7:44 AM

Any ideas?

Anyone any idea what these are? Found in my field in Smarden ,Kent. They are extremely hard,actually found it a couple of years ago and have just come across it again.It shows no sign of disintegration.Would love to know _2014_02_04_9550.JPG_2014_02_04_9554.JPG

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    Mar 2, 2014 8:29 AM (in response to lola97)
    Re: Any ideas?



    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 -

    - links here -



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        Mar 6, 2014 12:21 PM (in response to lola97)
        Re: Any ideas?



        '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.



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            Mar 6, 2014 8:54 PM (in response to lola97)
            Re: Any ideas?



            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 -

            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!



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