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Title: The use and significance of Early Bronze Age stone battle-axes and axe-hammers
Authors: Roy, Amber Sofia
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Previous understandings have assumed battle-axes were purely ceremonial, while the rougher axe-hammers were neither functional nor prestigious, being too large and too crude to be prestige implements. The principal sources have focussed on creating a typology and understanding the manufacture and petrological sources of the stone. However, there is yet to be a study which primarily focusses on use. A reassessment of outdated interpretations, which have not been critically evaluated since the 1980s, is overdue. This has left space for more accurate assessments of the roles and meanings of the objects based on new information. In order to do so, this PhD project is focussed on the use and significance of perforated ground stone battle-axes and axe-hammers from the Early Bronze Age in Northern Britain and the Isle of Man. The primary purpose of this research is to employ the techniques of use-wear analysis, experimental archaeology, and a theoretical contextual assessment, in order to determine the main uses and significance of these implements. This project is the first time that use-wear analysis is applied to a large sample of British Early Bronze Age battle-axes and axe-hammers, providing an opportunity to reassess the role and significance of these objects. This thesis argues that both battle-axes and axe-hammers were functionally used, with the potential for their use over prolonged periods and by multiple users. The evidence indicates that those implements found in burial contexts were both functional and symbolic. The data suggests that their inclusion in burial contexts drew upon relational links which developed through the itineraries of these objects, which means that their roles and significances were varied and multiple. This thesis also argues that the differences between battle-axes and axe-hammers are few in life. It is in death – their deposition – that the change in significance is apparent.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of History, Classics and Archaeology

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