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Axe-hammer

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from Beith, Ayrshire

Axe-hammer
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This stone axe-hammer was found at Beith in Ayrshire. 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.

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