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The Neolithic

Ritual

Polished stone axe, Monreith

Period:
Neolithic
Description:

A large and complete polished stone axe.  The axe is made from greywacke sandstone, a type of stone which occurs throughout Wigtownshire; it is probable that the axe was made locally.

 

The axe was found buried close to a natural rock outcrop.  Complete and unused, it may have been left as an offering to the gods.

 

Stone axeheads were surprisingly efficient. Fitted to a shaft of wood, antler or bone they could be used to remove the bark and phloem, which carried the nutrients of a tree, and in time it died. Large areas of forest could also be cleared by felling. Experiments in Denmark have revealed that this type of axe was most effective if swung from the elbow with short, sharp cuts. In this way three men cleared 500 square metres of silver birch forest in four hours, felling over a hundred trees!   

 

Some of these axeheads have had small sections removed. When these were examined under a microscope it was possible to identify where the stone came from, revealing much about ancient trade routes. Most of the axes here were made at sites in Great Langdale in Cumbria. Some were probably exported as rough outs and finished locally, but others would have been finished on site. 

Place of Production:
Wigtownshire
Place of Discovery:
Monreith, Wigtownshire
Materials/Media:
greywacke sandstone
Dimensions:
length 241mm
Source:
Stranraer Museum
Accession number:
WIWMS1997.22
Digital Number:
SRAM010n
Creation Date:
2500 BC
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council
References:

Livens, R G - "Petrology of Scottish Stone Implements" - Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Session 1958-1959. Volume 92, 1961, p57-70