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The British Museum

HAMP-A61754: Neolithic axehead

Rights Holder: Hampshire Cultural Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Hampshire Cultural Trust
CC License:

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Unique ID: HAMP-A61754

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An incomplete knapped, ground and polished stone axehead of Neolithic date, c. 4000 - 2100 BC. There is significant recent-ish damage to the butt end, with lighter damage (also recent-ish) to the cutting edge. It is triangular in shape with an asymmetrical, shallowly-curved cutting edge and a rounded butt-end.
The axehead has a pointed-oval cross-section, measuring 28.2x19.6mm at the damaged butt-end (just before the damage, it measures 43.3x36.4mm). It widens to the cutting edge (78.9mm) and thins significantly over the last quarter of length to c.2mm thick at the very edge. The sides of the axehead are slightly faceted and flat (to a height of c.10mm).
There is probable old damage to one face of the axehead, a curving groove just below the butt-end. The opposite face has several orangey-brown lines, probably the result of iron staining.
The stone is a dark grey volcanic tuff, which weathers to a lighter grey colour (apparent on the outer surfaces, the darker colour being visible at the recent-ish breaks). The breaks also reveal spots of a browny-orange colour, although these appear in the crevices of the stone rather than the fabric itself and probably have a similar origin to the iron staining on the outside face of the axehead.
The cutting edge and central areas immediately above (the thinnest and presumably most-worked areas) are smooth to touch, while the rest of the light-grey surface, although smooth, is slightly pitted.
The axehead measures 124.5mm in length, 78.9mm in max.width (at the cutting edge), 39.4mm in max.thickness (at the centrepoint of the axehead) and weighs 478g (to the nearest 2g).

The volcanic tuff of this axehead is similar to that in record HESH-532FDD. FLO Peter Reavill comments of this, '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. It is impossible to source axes such as these without a detailed petrological analysis of the rock'.
Another axehead with similar fabric, probably of Langdale source, can be seen in record YORYM-2C41A8, of which FLO Rebecca Griffiths writes 'This stone was most probably chosen for its colour and fineness which allowed it to be highly polished. It is likely that axes such as this were high status and probably not functional. If functional however the axe would have been hafted to an organic handle or haft. Axeheads made of Langdale geological material have been found throughout England (see distribution map: and represent important evidence for the exchange of materials in the Neolithic period'.

Find of note status

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

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: NEOLITHIC
Period from: NEOLITHIC
Period to: NEOLITHIC
Date from: Circa 4000 BC
Date to: Circa 2100 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 124.5 mm
Width: 78.9 mm
Thickness: 39.4 mm
Weight: 478 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Thursday 27th April 2017 - Thursday 27th April 2017

Personal details

This information is restricted for your access level.

Other reference numbers

Other reference: Hampshire Cultural Trust Object Entry Form WINCM 455

Materials and construction

Primary material: Stone
Manufacture method: Ground/polished
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Hampshire (County)
District: Fareham (District)
Parish or ward: Titchfield (District Ward)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SU5504
Four figure Latitude: 50.83292815
Four figure longitude: -1.2203726
1:25K map: SU5504
1:10K map: SU50SE
Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Chance find during metal detecting
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HAMP
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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