English Heritage launches £11m programme to save flint-working from extinction

English Heritage wants through this initiative to "save the skill of flint working from extinction" (Image: English Heritage)

Conservation charity English Heritage has announced the launch of a heritage apprenticeship programme and skills training centre aimed at safeguarding endangered specialist skills.

The apprenticeship course will teach heritage brickwork, flint and stone masonry skills to a younger workforce. The seven-year programme expects to train 48 young heritage skills apprentices and three professional apprentices.

The establishment of a heritage skills training centre in East Anglia and the creation of an in-house heritage crafts team will focus on the maintanence of 34 flint castles and abbeys in the East of England, including the Roman Wall of St Albans, Bury St Edmuds Abbey and Burgh Castle Roman Fort.

An endangered skill

Flint knapping is listed as an endangered skill on the Heritage Crafts Red List, which means there are serious concerns about its ongoing viability.

Although a third of East Anglia’s historic buildings contain flint, there are only a handful of skilled flint-workers remaining and the region faces the most severe shortage of heritage craft skills in the country, English Heritage said.

Two people facing a stone building with an arch.
81-year-old John Lord (right), is one of the few remaining skilled craftspeople in the country specialising in flint and rubble conservation (Image: English Heritage)

The charity wants to raise the profile of heritage skills as a career choice through school visits, hands-on training sessions and onsite ‘conservation in action’ activities.

The project is funded by a £11m donation from the heritage grant-awarding organisation Hamish Ogston Foundation. English Heritage said it is the largest donation that is has ever received.

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