Cheshire Find of the Month – October 2021

This is the first of a ‘Find of the Month’ series for Cheshire which aims to highlight some of the exciting finds that are being recorded with the PAS from Cheshire. It’s been a slow restart since the country was first put into lockdown in March 2020, but we’re starting to have some intriguing finds handed in.

The subject of this month’s find is this Neolithic axehead from Handbridge, Cheshire West and Chester, recorded under LVPL-2C1556. What’s particularly interesting about this find is that it was found in someone’s front garden! It’s important to remember that the PAS will record any object that is at least 300 years old and was found by chance, and this includes finds from the garden as well as metal detector finds.

Neolithic axehead from Handbridge, Cheshire. (C) National Museums Liverpool

The object is a complete ground and polished Type 1, Cornish greenstone axehead dating to the Neolithic period (c. 4000-2400 BC). The axehead is most likely formed of Cornish greenstone, an igneous rock characterised by its dark green colour with a coarse-grained texture and a mottled appearance of glassy light and dark minerals. During the Neolithic period, axeheads, including this one were exchanged across much of Britain, and so this axehead likely travelled a long way to be found in Cheshire.

A significant number of Neolithic axeheads have been reported to the PAS, c.950 at the time of writing, and roughly 100 of these have been identified as possibly being made of Cornish greenstone. What’s so significant about the Handbridge axehead is that it’s only one of 38 Neolithic axeheads reported from the North-West of England, and only one of seven to be reported from across Cheshire, and it’s the only one to be identified as possible Cornish greenstone. This makes this axehead a unique and exciting addition to the PAS database!