De prehistorische vuursteenmijnen van Rijckholt - St. Geertruid

Useful Information

Location: Near Rijckholt, 600 m walk towards St. Geertruid. 6 km southeast of Maastricht. Meet at the church of Ryckholt, at the Kaffee Riekelt.
Open: APR to JUN 1st and 3rd Wed 19.
JUL to AUG Wed 19.
SEP to OCT 1st and 3rd Wed 19.
Guides will arrive at 18:30, tour starts immediately when it is full.
Other weekdays for groups after apppointment.
Closed during winter.
Fee: Adults EUR 3.50, Children (0-12) EUR 1.
Groups (-25) EUR 45, Groups (26-50) EUR 70.
Classification: MineStone Age Flint Mine ExplainRoom and Pillar Mining
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=8-10 °C.
Guided tours: L=300 m.
Bibliography: (1998): de Prehistorische Vuursteenmijnen van Ryckholt - St.Geertruid, Nederlandse Geologische Vereniging, Afd. Limburg. Werkgroep Prehistorische vuursteenmijnbouw. ISBN: 90-801523-4-X
Address: Staatsbosbeheer, Beheerseenheid Gerendal, T.a.v. Dhr. H. van Proemeren, Gerendal 7, 6305 PA Schin op Geul, Tel: +31-43-4592469. E-mail: contact
VVV Zuid-Limburg, Tel: +31-900-9798.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1881 first flint-working sites discovered in the south of the Netherlands.
1914 first shaft and mining gallery discovered.
1923-1925 excavations by the Dutch archaeologists Prof. Dr. van Giffen and Dr. v.d. Sleen.
1964 more shafts discovered by Prof. Dr. Waterbolk from the Biological Archeological Institute of the Groningen University.
1964-1972 tunnel of 150 m length constructed into the prehistorical flint mines by members of the Netherlands Geological Association.
1979 discoveries exhibited in a new museum, tunnel opened to the public.
MAY-2003 new electric light.


In a forest about 500 m east of Rijckholt, flintstone mines of Neolithic age were discovered. Charcoal found inside the mines allowed C14 dating to 3150 (±60) before Christ. The mines are thought to have been used between 3950 and 2650 before Christ.

The mines were first discovered in 1881 by the Belgian archaeologist Marcel De Puydt (*1855-✝1940), and because of the location close to the Belgian border they were first explored by Belgian scientists. The first excavation by Dutch archaeologists started in 1923. Soon more mines were discovered, and finally the excavation was intensified by building a 150 m long tunnel which cut through the mines and allowed to examine them. It revealed 14000 flint picks, some deer horn picks, charcoal and a human skull.

The mines followed layers of flint in Cretaceous chalk, which is locally called Mergel. To reach the most lucrative layers, and because the quality of the flints inside the rock was better than weathered flint found on the surface, the people made much ado to mine them. They first constructed vertical shafts about 10 m deep and 1 m in diametre, then they followed the almost horizontal layers into various directions and constructed a star like tunnel system. This is an ancient predecessor of the room and pillar technique. The first tunnel was excavated and the material transported up the shaft, later the material was removed and then stored in mined out shafts, which made the mines more stable. Some passages end after a few meters, others have branches. However, they are only about 60 cm high and were obviously mined lying and crawling on the floor. Several mines are connected, which allowed the miners to excape through the other shaft in cases of collapse. It also meant additional air and light in the mine. No remains of light sources have been discovered, so the miners worked without light using only the sunlight, which was reflected by the bright white chalk walls.

During the excavation the modern tunnel was used to reach the hisotic mines, but also to remove many tons of debris. The mines were cleared form the original Neolithic filling, so they became instable. After the excavation the mines were cleaned and secured by steel struts and joints.