Little Cattail Creek Chert

Last Updated: April 4, 2023

Little Cattail Creek chert, 44DW0001, Dinwiddie County, Virginia

Type Cherts

Collection Location:
The Little Cattail Creek quarries are best known from the Williamson Site (44DW0001) located in the eastern Fall Zone region of Dinwiddie County, Virginia.

This distinctive lithic material, which has been described as ‘Williamson chert’ or ‘Cattail Creek chalcedony,’ is varied in texture and color. Colors range from white and translucent to opaque black, but cream, gray, blue, and brown in variegated forms predominated. Textures range from grainy, like quartzite, to smooth and waxy, and while several varieties are translucent, most is subtranslucent. The finest of this material is highly translucent when freshly chipped but weathers light to dark blue or gray. Still another high quality variety is quite different and contains yellow and brown jasper mixed with chert or chalcedony; but, a classic Williamson chert would be described by most individuals familiar with this quarry as variegated cream-blue-gray. Weathering of this material is variable but generally does not proceed to a soft or chalky surface.

This material has been noted on sites to the east along the Nottoway River and further east along the western scrap of the Dismal Swamp. The material also moves north-south along the Fall Line.

Cultural Implications
The early Clovis culture does not appear to have heat treated this chert, but thermal alteration was the practice of later people including Kirk, Morrow Mountain I, and Perkiomen cultures. Cores of this material have dimensions as great as 3000 mm, and weights approaching 20 kilograms have been recorded, although most cores are much smaller.


Prepared By Egloff 2008