Midlothian’s 100 Objects - A Bronze Age stone axe- hammer

A stone axe-hammer found at Roslin in Midlothian. Photo: National Museums Scotland/Scran

A stone axe-hammer found at Roslin in Midlothian. Photo: National Museums Scotland/Scran

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This stone axe-hammer was found at Roslin. It is made of greenstone.

Axe-hammers were heavy-duty tools, ranging in length from 150 to 350 mm. They feature shaftholes for a wooden handle. They could have been used as massive wedges.

Axe-hammers probably date to between 2100 and 1400 BC. Although this is the Bronze Age, the use of stone tools was still prolific.

This axe-hammer is asymmetrical, and has been damaged on one side around the shafthole.

The function of axe-hammers has been debated. Traces of use suggest that the butt end was struck and the blade end pushed through a resistant material.

The narrow handle would have been too weak to act like an axe handle, so may have been for steadying the tool in position.

Use as a heavy-duty wedge seems the most likely.

Studies have shown there are unexplained concentrations of axe-hammers in south-west Scotland and north-west England.

Photo: National Museums Scotland/Scran

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