Fire stone and striker, Norway

Bryant and May collection of fire-making appliances.
Bow and Bow and
A Fire-stone (length 4 1/4 ins) of quartzite, shuttle-shaped

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A Fire-stone (length 4 1/4 ins) of quartzite, shuttle-shaped
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Fire stone made of quartzite, shuttle-shaped, showing a small striking and sharpening groove in its upper face, with a later added band of leather, from the Bergen Museum, Norway, 401-500 AD and a model of a pointed iron striker, copied from an example of about the same date in the Bergen Museum, Norway

Humans have throughout history used different techniques and tools to create life-sustaining fires. One of the oldest and most widespread methods is by using flints or fire stones, like this one, together with tinder and a fire-striker. The stone is struck against the fire striker, often made of minerals or steel, which causes hot, oxidising metal particles to split off the fire striker and ignite tinder. Tinder is a fine material with the ability to combust quickly and often consists of amadou made from fungus, plant fibres, or artificial materials like paper strips and petroleum.

This object is part of the Bryant and May fire-making collection, which used to be displayed in a private museum within the Bryant and May match-making factory’s offices. The collection comprises around 1200 objects, dating from the Stone Age to the early 20th century that illustrate the variety of tools and techniques humans across the world have used to create fires.

The collection was mostly acquired by the ornithologist and fire-making enthusiast Edward Bidwell and cared for by the collector Miller Christy. Bidwell collected between the late 19th and early 20th century – when Britain's colonial power was at its peak. Tracing the objects’ provenance is therefore difficult and part of the long and problematic history of colonial exploitation.


Object Number:
quartzite and iron
stone: 107.95 mm
striker: 117.3 mm
Wilkinson Sword Ltd.