Gun Flints (XX.919)
This lump of concrete-bound flints is a bundle of information about Britain's 18th century global trade networks, and one of its largest global trading companies, the East India Company (EIC). These are unused gun flints that were intended to be used as ignition in flintlock firearms. They were found in the wreck of the English East Indiaman, 'The Earl of Abergavenny,' which sank in Weymouth Bay in February 1805. These flints were being transported to equip the army of the East India Company in India. From 1600 till the mid 19th century the EIC dominated and monopolised global trade. It was an incredibly powerful and rich company, with a deeply chequered history, particularly in India. The Earl of Abergavenny was a 1440-ton cargo ship built for the EIC in Northfleet in 1797. There were more than 40,000 gunflints on board which were believed to have been knapped at Brandon in Sussex and Northfleet in Kent. The sheer number of these flints reveals the magnitude and reach of the EIC and its firearm requirements.