Saturday, 26 February 2011
Further news about our 5000 year old axe head.
Regular readers of my blog may remember that some time ago I showed a photograph of this axe head which my father in law dug up in one of our fields in the 1980's. I can tell you that just to hold it, feel its smoothness and marvel at the workmanship is exciting in itself. I also like to think that probably my father in law's was the first hand to touch it since it was dropped all that time ago.
Over the past few weeks there has been a really good programme on television called The History of Ancient Britain and this week's episode centred around the Langdale Pikes in The Lake District and was about the Neolithic axe factory which had been found there. We had already been told by archaeologists that our axe was probably from that area so we watched the programme with interest.
Afterwards I sent an e mail to the archaeologist from York University, Mark Edmonds, who had appeared on the programme. I also sent him a photograph of the axe head. He replied almost immediately, which was very good of him. I thought you would be interested to hear about the additional information we now have.
Apparently he feels that the original axe head would have been considerably bigger than this one; he felt it had a long history of use and had been regularly resharpened and repaired. He said people were often keen to hang on to a good axe. This makes sense doesn't it, as we are still like that today.
He goes on to say, and I quote" Most blades in most areas show signs of use but there are also examples that would have been impractical for many tasks which suggests that such axes possessed importance as tokens of identity. Their exchange would be an important way of making and maintaining ties between people who lived in scattered groups. Some may well have been precious and there are hints that they had an almost mystical quality and were even thrown into rivers, probably as sacrifices to the gods."
It is good to hear this from an authority on the subject and it does go to show the absolutely marvellous efficacy of the computer that within twenty four hours of the programme I could get in touch with the expert, e mail him a photograph and get such a comprehensive reply. And how great to be in contact with such an enthusiast who, although he is working in Orkney at present, was willing to send me all this information.