HESH-07A7E3: Late Bronze Age faceted socketed axe

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Unique ID: HESH-07A7E3

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

Cast bronze (copper alloy) faceted socketed axe of late Bronze Age date (950 – 750 BC). The axe is relatively short and stubby with faceted sides. It is best classified as a Faceted Axe, type Gillespie sometimes known as ‘baggy axe’. These axes have been discovered in associated with the late Wilburton metalworking traditions (phase XI) and the Ewart Park tradition (phase XII). This corresponds to Needham’s (1996) Period 6-7 circa 1000-700 CAL. BC. The axe is sub-rectangular in plan with a flared convex cutting edge and the socket is oval in cross section. The axe measures 80.7mm length, 52.3mm width, is 37.4mm thick and weighs 222.61 grams. The depth of the socket is 59.6mm. The mouth of the socket of the axe is broadly oval; the edge of the socket shows little evidence of casting jets due to abrasion. It is also likely that the casting jets have been trimmed flush with the socket mouth. None of the casting runners survives. A relatively wide moulded collar is present on the upper part of the socket of the axe. The upper part of this collar flares at the mouth where a moulded lip is present. The base of the collar is slightly stepped. The moulded collar is best seen on one face, the other is slightly weaker. At the base of the collar, on one edge a side loop extends. The loop is well preserved and relatively small and wide with a regular faceted D shaped cross section. The loop is set in a low position on the axe. The mid part of the axe, below the collar and above the cutting edge is faceted. Here six clear facets are present; all are relatively even and the edges are clearly defined. The upper parts of the facets extend into the moulded collar. There are no other areas of decoration, such as cast ribs. The two long sides of the axe expand slightly along the length of the socket and terminate with a crescent shaped expanded blade. The casting flashes on the sides of the axe have been hammered and also filed; also clear striations on the blade’s edge bevel suggest some preparation for use. The expanded blade has a curved convex (crescent shaped) cutting edge which is relatively well preserved. The blade edge has been lost through abrasion and corrosion. The upper part of the blade has a series of hammer marks where metal has been drawn down; the hammer scars are dish shaped and arranged in a crescentic pattern. It is likely that these do not represent decoration; instead they are functional in nature. The socketed axe head is a mid matt green colour with an even, well formed patina which covers most surfaces. There are several areas where this patina has been lost as a result of abrasion and also corrosion. The surface of the axe is pitted in places but active corrosion is not present. The areas worst affected are those around the collar, socket and cutting edge. There are also a series of deep scratches in the patina; these are a modern occurrence. Further damage is present on the front face of the axe near the moulded collar. Here a sub-rectangular depression extends, this is heavily patinated and suggests old damage. This damage obviously did not affect the strength of the socket. There is no evidence of organic residue within the socket of the axe. This axe is an unusual find in Shropshire whose known distribution focuses on ribbed axes; however a similar axe was recently reported to the PAS from Myddle and Broughton (HESH-05A063). This type of faceted axe is therefore rare and its presence important. This axe is of a type which is known as Type Gillespie, which Burgess and Schmidt suggest is associated with later Wilburton metalworking traditions (phase XI) and Ewart Park tradition (phase XII). They are also discovered in Ireland and are associated with the Dowris tradition. It has been suggested that this form of facet axe continues production into the Llyn Fawr tradition (which is the transitional period between the metalwork of the Bronze and Iron Ages). Similar axes have been illustrated in Burgess and Schmidt and the best parallels are cat no 1101 Kilkerran, Scotland, 1109 Graham’s Mount, and 1112 Hatton, Angus. A more local example can be see in the Savory Welsh catalogue from a small hoard of axes discovered at Llandaff, Glamorganshire (cat no 282). This Welsh axe had been analysed and the metal content was comparable with axes from the second phase of the Late Bronze Age (LBA II) which Savory dates 750-600 BC but would actually be better described as Ewart Park 950-750 BC.

Find of note status

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


Broad period: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: BRONZE AGE
Date from: 950 BC
Date to: 750 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 80.7 mm
Width: 52.3 mm
Thickness: 37.4 mm
Weight: 222.61 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Friday 1st January 1960

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:
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Badger

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Agricultural or drainage work
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: Wednesday 29th July 2009
Updated: Thursday 24th February 2011

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