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      Neolithic Ground Axe-heads and Monuments in Wessex

      , English Heritage
      Internet Archaeology
      Council for British Archaeology

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          Abstract

          While central southern England is well known for its extant Neolithic monuments and for the fine artefacts recovered from some of its Bronze Age barrows, Neolithic artefacts from the region have received relatively little attention. This might be considered surprising, as the area not only witnessed some of the earliest investigations into the source of materials, notably the Stonehenge bluestones, but it also harbours some of the earliest dated ground axes in the country. This article examines the occurrence and distribution of ground axes found in Wessex when compared to other artefact types, but, more importantly, comparison with the location of extant monuments allows a rather different view of Wessex to emerge. The article considers the influence of local resources, of flint mines such as those at Durrington, Easton Down and Porton Down in Wiltshire, and the extent and processes by which axes of non-local materials may have been introduced and dispersed across the landscape.

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          Most cited references31

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          Drowned and deserted: a submerged prehistoric landscape in the Solent, England

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            Maiden Castle, Dorset

            R. Wheeler (1943)
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              First Report of the Sub-Committee of the South-Western Group of Museums and Art Galleries on the Petrological Identification of Stone Axes.

              For many years past on both formal and informal occasions, archaeologists and others, including Mr W. F. Grimes (1932 and 1935) and Dr F. J. North (1938), have been stressing the importance of a scientific examination of the numerous stone axes in public and private collections. It has been urged that an exact determination of the rock material and its original provenance, together with a knowledge of the locality at which the tool was found, would lead to far wider and more exact information concerning early trade routes and other factors of economic and social importance in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age times. A major hindrance to the realisation of these anticipations lay with owners who required the petrologist to identify the rocks by macroscopical characters alone. It was of little avail for the geologist to point out that grinding, polishing and patination had often obliterated the few surface features available and that even if fracturing of the specimen were allowed, no real progress could be made until a thin section of the axe was obtained. Pressed for an identification even on the above unsatisfactory grounds, geologists have at times given answers which are really little better than reasoned guesses, and the archaeologists have based some equally speculative deductions upon them.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Internet Archaeology
                IA
                Council for British Archaeology
                13635387
                2009
                2009
                : 26
                Article
                10.11141/ia.26.13
                880c8661-ee4c-4ef0-b66c-f4f7ea521147
                © 2009
                History

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