HESH-277E48: Late Neolithic: Polished Axe

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Unique ID: HESH-277E48

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A complete but damaged knapped, ground and polished axe-head of probable later Neolithic date (2900-2100 BC). The axe is knapped from a mid grey buff volcanic tuff. This rock type is formed from compressed volcanic ash and has a fine grained composition with infrequent crystalline inclusions. Tuff is found in Britain and Ireland in a band that runs down the Irish Sea from the Lake District (the Langdale's source Group VI), County Antrim (Ireland), through North Wales (Graig Lwyd Group VII), and into Cornwall and Devon (Groups XVI and IV respectively). Volcanic tuff is similar to flint in that it can be finely worked, ground and polished to form a variety of tools; however axes are the most common find type and were used across Northern Europe during the Neolithic period. This axe is broadly sub-rectangular in plan and irregular with a distinctive humped face in cross section. In plan the sides of the axe taper from the widest point behind the cutting edge to a relatively narrow rounded butt. The sides of the axe have been heavily abraded in the ploughsoil but there is evidence of distinct side facets. The cutting edge is largely complete and well defined, it is crescent shaped in plan with evidence of distinct facets formed from polishing. In places these faces have been polished, flaked and also abraded away. The butt of the axe is complete but has been damaged and several flake scars are present. The butt itself is flat and a distinct striking platform is present. The axe measures 99.9mm length, a maximum of 62.5mm width, and is a maximum of 29.1mm thick. The axe weighs 240.04 grams. The axe has been damaged in several areas. The first area of significant damage is at the butt of the axehead. Here the damage is a result of plough roll or abrasion which has caused a number of relatively deep and uncontrolled flakes to be removed. Similar damage can be seen along one of the long edges of the axe; here a number of hinge fractures are present and the axe has been badly chipped. This abrasion has also removed much of the polished surface of the axe. In addition to these areas there are also a number of other areas of flaking. These are similar to those that you would expect through the roughing out process, but have cut through the polished surface. This would suggest that someone has deliberately reflaked the axe prior to its deposition. These scars / flakes are relatively regular and slightly dished in appearance. These areas are also well patinated (unlike the areas of modern damage). One other area of damage should be noted; this is evident on both faces of the axe and the damage is in the form of several deep scratches and chips. These all have a patina and are located at approximately the mid-point of the axe. These areas of damage may come from a deliberate scratching of the surface of the axe in the Neolithic to provide a better grip for the hafting of the axe or have been caused by the hafting during use. The axe is a mid grey buff colour with several areas of smooth well polished surface. A series of longitudinal scratches are present which may be the result of the polishing process. The areas of damage and flaking have been outlined above. It is impossible to source axes such as these without a detailed petrological analysis of the rock. This would allow the original source of the rock to be established. However, the weathered colour of the tuff is typical of axes from the Langdale procurement source in the Lake District (Petrographic Group VI).

Class: Polished

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: NEOLITHIC
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: NEOLITHIC
Period to: NEOLITHIC
Date from: 2900 BC
Date to: 2100 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 99.9 mm
Width: 62.5 mm
Thickness: 29.1 mm
Weight: 240.04 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Peter Reavill
Identified by: Mr Peter Reavill

Materials and construction

Primary material: Stone
Manufacture method: Knapped/flaked
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Abbey Dore (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SO3730
Four figure Latitude: 51.96489123
Four figure longitude: -2.91836561
1:25K map: SO3730
1:10K map: SO33SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Fieldwalking
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HESH
Created: 12 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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