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Axe-hammer

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from Balgour, Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire

Axe-hammer
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This unfinished stone axe-hammer was found at Balgour at Kirkcolm in Wigtownshire. Axe-hammers are heavy-duty tools, ranging in length from 150 to 350 mm. They have shaftholes for a wooden handle. They could have been used as massive wedges, and they probably date to between 2100 and 1400 BC.

This unfinished axe-hammer has had its surface partly pecked into shape, but large areas remain unshaped. The boring of the shafthole, done from either side, had just been started when the piece was abandoned.

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. There are unexplained concentrations of axe-hammers in south-west Scotland and north-west England.

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