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Grave digger finds ancient axe in village churchyard

One of the ancient stone axe fragements that were found in Mitford Churchyard.

One of the ancient stone axe fragements that were found in Mitford Churchyard.

Pieces of a tool used about 6,000 years ago have been found in a Northumberland village.

Whilst working in Mitford Churchyard, a grave digger from Rothbury discovered part of a broken polished stone axe from the Neolithic period (between 4,000 and 2,200 BC).

It is made from what archaeologists call Group VI Langdale greenstone – a fine grained volcanic tuff.

Very few have been unearthed near Morpeth. The greatest concentration of these discoveries are in Lincolnshire.

The find has been examined by Mitford resident Frank Robinson, who is a member of the Morpeth Antiquarian Society.

He said: “Not all axes found show signs of use – there may have been an element of status in owning a polished green axe.

“Over centuries, these axes were passed on by traders or given as a sign of loyalty or as family heirlooms and stories of their origin would be embellished.

“How this broken part of an axe came to be in our Churchyard, we will never know.

“It could have been deliberately broken as part of a ceremony or it may have been found during the building and re-building of Mitford Church to be thrown away unrecognised. It may have been found elsewhere and dropped near the church.”

The section of axe will remain with the finder after being recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Newcastle.

 

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