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H 290 x W 205 mm

334 pages

Illustrated throughout in colour and black & white (86 colour plates)

Published Jan 2018

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781784917449

Digital: 9781784917456

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Neolithic; Britain; Axe-Heads; Migration; Catalogue; Flint; Lithics; Prehistory

Axe-heads and Identity

An investigation into the roles of imported axe-heads in identity formation in Neolithic Britain

By Katharine Walker

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This volume seeks to re-assess the significance accorded to the body of stone and flint axe-heads imported into Britain from the Continent which have until now often been poorly understood, overlooked and undervalued in Neolithic studies.



Preface and acknowledgements; Chapter One: Introduction; Chapter Two: Re-connecting British and continental research traditions: dynamic approaches to the relationship between axe-heads and identity; Chapter Three: ‘Afterlives’; Chapter Four: An investigation into the contexts of jade axe-heads found in Britain, using GIS terrain modelling of HER data; Chapter Five: ‘Projet Breton’ and the search for Group X; Chapter Six: ‘Crudwell’ type, ‘Smerrick’ type, and marbled all-over-polished axe-heads in Neolithic Britain; Chapter Seven: The rectangular-sectioned axe-head in Britain and its implications for understanding the Neolithic; Chapter Eight: Answering the original questions; Appendix One: Table of all known published jade axe-heads with attributed British find-spot locations (correct until 2017). Shaded in grey are axe-heads with ‘precise’ find-spot locations, included in Appendix Two); Appendix Two: Find-spot locations, and archaeology of Mesolithic to Roman date within a 1000m radius, for 43 jade axe-heads found in Britain, presented as 41 GIS terrain models with accompanying text; Appendix Three: A table of all known Group X axe-heads and a table of Breton fibrolite axe-heads with attributed British find-spot locations; Appendix Four: Table of all published ‘Crudwell-Smerrick’ type axe-heads; Appendix Five: Table of all known axe-heads with rectangular sections which have British find-spot locations attributed. Highlighted in grey are axe-heads of probable Scandinavian origin. This is a summary of the information presented in Appendix Six; Appendix Six: Corpus of all known axe-heads with rectangular sections which have British find-spot locations attributed (summarised in Appendix Five); Appendix Seven: Caches and hoards of axe-heads in Britain. Please note, almost all of the data included in this corpus has been taken directly from Pitts 1996, Appendix One, with a few additions by the author; Bibliography; Index

About the Author

Katharine Walker is a prehistorian who specialises in the Neolithic of northwest Europe. She is Visiting Research Fellow at Bournemouth University, Ecademy Project Officer at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst, and a freelance lithics and stone axe specialist. She studied at the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Southampton where she completed a PhD in 2015. Her current research interests focus on materials and material culture, and she has also published on the first metalwork and the origins of social power in The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe (2015). She is an active Committee Member of the Implement Petrology Group, as well as Editor of their newsletter Stonechat.


'It is excellent to see all the disparate data collected together with a persistent reminder of the problem of fakes and manuports (most axe-heads are stray finds, others form part of donated antiquarian collections, or, these days, bought on eBay); it allows, for the first time, an overview of the ‘oddities’. This clearly shows that a re-examination of the material is overdue, and the need for the original lithological descriptions/attributions to be confirmed is the author’s constant and timely cry (but for safe progress it must to be done by a competent petrographer). The questions this book (re-)raises are important and are clarified. Most notably (placing jade to one side), why, after the early Neolithic, were so very few axes imported?' – Rob Ixer (2018): Current Archaeology #343

‘Overall, this book provides a wealth of interesting ideas and observations of the British Neolithic and its relations with its nearest neighbours. It highlights what the author has rightly identified as a greatly neglected class of objects… For those with a fascination for stone tools, this provides an enjoyable wander through the problems and pitfalls, but also the considerable potential, of axeheads with possible Continental associations.’Barry Bishop (2019): Archaeological Journal, DOI: 10.1080/00665983.2019.1591070