An Axe to Grind; ANTIQUES with Bargain Hunter Don Rodgers Don Rodgers Looks at a Truly Ancient Artefact from the Dawn of Civilisation
THIS is by far and away the oldest man-made object I've ever bought. It's a polished stone axehead, dating from the Neolithic period, and is more than 4,000-years-old.
I purchased it many years ago from a man who was doing some gardening for us.
He had dug it up about 20 years previously when engaged in some landscaping work on Gower.
At the time, so he informed us, he'd taken it to Swansea Museum, where they'd logged details of his find.
I think it's one of the most beautiful objects I've ever owned and one of the most tactile.
It's unbelievably smooth to the touch and represents a considerable investment of time and energy by the people who made it.
It's the fact that it is so smooth and polished which shows it to be Neolithic.
The Stone Age is divided for the sake of convenient description into three periods: Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic - Old, Middle, and New. The New Stone Age in Britain extended roughly from 4,000 to 2,000 BC.
It was a time when people moved from nomadic hunter-gathering to agriculture. Stone axes like this were an efficient tool for clearing woodland for farming - apparently, you can fell an ash tree one foot in diameter in about an hour with one.
Originally it would have been mounted in a wooden handle, unlike the much rougher Paleolithic hand axes.
In 1971, a Neolithic axehead was found in the mud at Aberavon Lido still set in some of the original wood.
This is now in the collection of the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, where I've been to see it.
It's similar in shape and size to ours, some 7ins in length. The museum example is, however, made from a different stone, namely a greenstone from Cornwall.
Some people may be surprised to hear that an axe made from Cornish stone should turn up in Aberavon. …