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from Galloway

Postcard of Axe-hammer.
© National Museums Scotland


This sandstone axe-hammer was found in Galloway. 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.

Made from a large cobble, this axe-hammer has a bluntish blade at one end, a curving butt, flattish upper and lower surfaces and a shafthole bored through them near the butt end.

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-004-762-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.AH 6
Date: Between 2100 and 1400 BC
Material: Sandstone
Dimensions: 7.50" x 4.00" x 3.50"
What: Hammer
Where: Scotland, Galloway
Description: Wedge-shaped hammer of sandstone, from Galloway
  • Roe, F.E.S. Typology of stone implements with shaftholes. In: Clough, T.H.McK. and Cummins, W.A. (eds). Stone Axe Studies. London: Council for British Archaeology (Research Report 23), 1979, pp 23-48. 
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