The art of grinding using sharpening stones developed slowly during the latter stages of the Stone Age.
The first stones may simply have been natural outcroppings of rock that had abrasive qualities, such as sandstone. Many still remain with the tell-tale grooves and hollows caused by the continuous rubbing and grinding made by countless generations.
The need for this useful commodity saw large pieces of stone hewn from the outcroppings and in some instances, evidence suggests, stones were transported great distances. Compared with their modern counterparts, these stones were much larger, often measuring three or more feet in length and typically one foot in width.
The greater size and weight of the early sharpening stones would have held them steady against the sharpening of axes, knives, spears and other tools.
Through the ages, sharpening stones gradually reduced in size as they were cut into smaller, more easily managed pieces. All around the globe, new pockets of stones with abrasive qualities were being discovered and quarried. This led to an increase in the variety of sharpening stones available.
In America, such pockets of stone were found in the mountains of Arkansas. This stone, made of crystallised Silica, was extremely hard and durable, perfect for sharpening the hardest steels. These natural stones became world-famous and are still in use today.
The use of natural stone began declining with the rise of industrial chemistry and the ability to create high quality man-made sharpening stones with consistent grit particle sizes.