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Abstract

Old chalk and flint mine workings occur widely across southern and eastern England. Over 3500 mines are recorded in the national Stantec Mining Cavities Database and more are being discovered each year. The oldest flint mines date from the Neolithic period and oldest chalk mines from at least medieval times, possibly Roman times. The most intensive period for mining was during the 1800s, although some mining activities continued into the 1900s. The size, shape and extent of the mines vary considerably with some types only being found in particular areas. They range from crudely excavated bellpits to more extensive pillar-and-stall styles of mining. The mines were created for a series of industrial, building and agricultural purposes. Mining locations were not formally recorded so most are discovered following the collapse of the ground over poorly backfilled shafts and adits. The subsidence activity, often triggered by heavy rainfall or leaking water services, poses a hazard to the built environment and people. Purpose-designed ground investigations are needed to map out the mine workings and carry out follow-on ground stabilization after subsidence events. Where mine workings can be safely entered they can sometimes be stabilized by reinforcement rather than infilling.

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