East Week Flints and Captain Greig

Factual Story

East Week Flints and Captain GreigBy: RAMMBack to Dartmoor Stories

Location: The South Zeal and Whiddon Down area

  • East Week Flints and Captain Greig image 1This carefully shaped piece of flint could have been set into a handle to make a knife, or into a shaft to make an arrowhead.
  • East Week Flints and Captain Greig image 2The leaf shape of this arrowhead is characteristic of the Neolithic farming people who used them for hunting.
  • East Week Flints and Captain Greig image 3Many of these arrowheads have been found suggesting that hunted food was still an important addition to the diet.
  • East Week Flints and Captain Greig image 4This carefully shaped piece of flint could have been set into a handle to make a knife, or into a shaft to make an arrowhead.
  • East Week Flints and Captain Greig image 5This carefully shaped piece of flint could have been set into a handle to make a knife, or into a shaft to make an arrowhead.
  • East Week Flints and Captain Greig image 6This carefully shaped piece of flint could have been set into a handle to make a knife, or into a shaft to make an arrowhead.

An extraordinary collection of over 30,000 flints comes from this area. It was put together by Captain Oscar Greig during the 1950s and 1960s. Capt Greig walked the fields around his house in South Zeal picking up and recording all the flint he found. His collection built up into one of the best records of prehistoric hunter-gather and early farmer activity on the moor.


Captain Greig was an interesting character. During WWI he flew in the Royal Flying Corps and was shot down by the famous German air ace The Red Baron, Baron von Richthofen. Grieg was held prisoner-of-war, eventually escaping and making his way back to Britain on foot. He continued his interest in flying after the war and was even known to deliver post on Dartmoor by air.


As well as collecting flints, Greig was a noted botanist and built up a major collection of Devon specimens. Greig seems to have been something of a loner. Farmers who remember him say that he used to follow their ploughs, dressed in his military greatcoat, picking up flints and putting them into his knap sack. His closely typed notes recording his archaeological and botanical finds are of invaluable use today.

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