On Saturday while walking with my children, we stumbled across a strange looking rock, half buried in a ploughed field. I picked it up as it clearly was not a typical flint, and the moment it was in my hand I knew we had found something special. We had found a neolithic axe head.
It has been made with such precision that at first I thought it must have been made by a machine – there are precise lines, exact proportions and the cutting end has been polished smooth. It’s the most beautiful object to hold.
But the most intriguing part is how it got here. Apparently, according to my basic research and a bit of help via social media, these axe heads were made in Cumbria at the Langdale Axe Factory in the Neolithic period, starting around 4000 BC. The Axe heads would have been highly valued, not just as an extremely effecive tool, but as a sign of wealth and power as well, and were traded throughout the British Isles. The fine grained rocks were mined from outcrops of volcanic tuff found on Scarfell Pike and other peaks, and were knapped into shape before being polished against sandstone.
It’s amazing to think that Neolithic man was strolling around Stansted 4-6,000 years ago – having invested in an axe head crafted in Cumbria. It leaves so many questions unanswered.
If you know of any experts who could help piece the picture together, I would be grateful – and we will have the axe head on show at the farm shop this Friday for those who are interested.