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Dr Thomas Boyle Grierson

Stone Axe, Barndennoch


From the collection of Dr Grierson, this large fine grained, grey and white mottled axehead with chipped blade was originally found near Barndennoch.   


Stone axeheads were surprisingly efficient. Fitted to a shaft of wood, antler or bone they could be used to remove the bark and phloem, which carried the nutrients of a tree, and in time it died. Large areas of forest could also be cleared by felling. Experiments in Denmark have revealed that this type of axe was most effective if swung from the elbow with short, sharp cuts. In this way three men cleared 500 square metres of silver birch forest in four hours, felling over a hundred trees!   


Some of these axeheads have had small sections removed. When these were examined under a microscope it was possible to identify where the stone came from, revealing much about ancient trade routes. Most of the axes here were made at sites in Great Langdale in Cumbria. Some were probably exported as rough outs and finished locally, but others would have been finished on site. 


Livens, R G - "Petrology of Scottish Stone Implements" - Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Session 1958-1959. Volume 92, 1961, p57-70


Black, George F and Bisset, Joseph - "Catalogue of Dr Grierson's Museum,
Thornhill, 1894". Dumfries: Courier and Herald Offices, 1894, p72:


Place of Discovery:
200mm x 37mm x 67mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
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