HESH-EA86E3: Neolithic: Polished Axe

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Unique ID: HESH-EA86E3

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

A complete but slightly damaged knapped, ground and polished flint axehead of probable later Neolithic date (2900-2100 BC). The axe is knapped from a mid orange coloured flint with considerable mid - pale yellow and milky white inclusions. This axe is broadly sub-rectangular in plan and sub-oval (humped) in cross section. In plan the sides of the axe taper from the widest point at the cutting edge to a relatively narrow rounded butt. One long edge tapers more than the other edge. The axe measures 179.5mm length, 72.1mm width (at cutting edge), and is 40.9mm thick. It weighs 587 grams. The sides of the axe have clear well defined side facets which extend from the cutting edge to the butt of the axe. The cutting edge is also formed from several facets. In places these faces have been polished away, presumably through sharpening. The cutting edge is complete and well defined, it is crescent shaped in plan. The butt of the axe is complete but has been damaged and several flake scars are present. The axe has also been damaged in several other areas. The first area of significant damage is at the butt of the axehead. Here the damage is twofold, first is the relatively recent damage. This has been caused by movement in the burial environment resulting in a number of hinge fracture caused by direct uncontrolled blunt blows. However, on the opposite face at the butt are at least two narrow flakes. These flakes remove the polished surface of the axe and have clear regular conchoidal factures present. This would suggest some element of reworking prior to deposition. The cutting edge of the blade has also suffered and this has resulted in the removal of several distinct flakes and a series of chunks and chips. Again this damage is most likely caused by movement in the ploughsoil. 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 slight dished flakes, evidence of abrasion through deep scratches and several small chips. These all have a patina and are located at approximately the mid-point of the axe, behind the hump in profile. These areas of damage may come from a deliberate attempt to roughen the surface of the axe in the Neolithic to provide a better grip for the hafting of the axe. This has been observed on other axes. The axe is a mid yellow orange colour with a smooth well polished surface in most places. The areas of damage and flaking have been outlined above. It is impossible to source flint axes but many people suggest that this coloured 'honey' flint with white inclusions is most common in the South of Britain specifically Dorset a similar honey coloured flint is common in Yorkshire but does not have as may inclusions. The surface of the axe is well polished, however there are a number of small holes, these are most likely to be flaws in the surface matrix, where inclusions such a fossils have been. This suggests that the axe follows the broad shape of the nodule it was knapped from, and although the surface cortex these flaws were once near the surface. The nature of this flint is also interesting in the amount of variation in colour and amount of white inclusions; this may suggest some form of detailed selection being made of the flint prior to knapping. It also hints at the aesthetic value of these artefacts as objects as well as tools. Axes mean more to Neolithic society than just being a tool; they would have had various other functions and shown the wealth, power and importance of the owner. It is likely they were passed down through families and generations and were often deposited in special, meaningful and significant ways. This axe is an important find both locally and also from a regional perspective

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Class: Polished


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

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 179.5 mm
Width: 72.1 mm
Thickness: 40.9 mm
Weight: 587 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: Flint
Completeness: Complete

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: Donnington (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SO7233
Four figure Latitude: 51.99473473
Four figure longitude: -2.409214
1:25K map: SO7233
1:10K map: SO73SW
WOEID: 26347630
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Building work
General landuse: Other
Specific landuse: Garden

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

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Audit data

Recording Institution: HESH
Created: Thursday 28th May 2009
Updated: Friday 15th May 2015

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