A Stone Age axe handle

 

Fragment of an axe handle

Fragment of an axe handle with chopping traces still visible

 

The questions that archaeologists are asked most frequently are: Do you find any gold? and Do you find anything exciting? Most often, the reference is to gold, precious stones, coins, weapons or skeletons, i.e. the fantastic finds that are tangible. However, flint flakes, postholes or soil layers can also be considered 'golden finds', as these shed light on a given society and help provide understanding of contexts. The objects thus possess a value due to which lines can be drawn up to our own age, providing an understanding of society.

 

To the archaeologist, of course, it is incredible to find a gold object or a sword, but structures and contexts rather than individual objects reveal more about the whole. This is one of the reasons why postholes are important, because they tell us about settlement structures and how people used to live in the past. A flint flake in itself does not say a lot; but many flakes in the same place tell us where the flint smith would have worked, and what the flakes were used for, and soil layers tell us where there were activity areas, and where a possible coastline would have been.

 

Fantastic finds are obviously unique. They are something out of the ordinary. But everyday objects are equally significant, as they tell us about life and everyday living in the past. And just like Danish author Dan Turèll was "fond of everyday life", so are today's archaeologists.

 

Axe handle with traces of working

The rounded axe handle with clear traces of working. This is an indication that someone has put some effort into the detail on the tool.

 

A Stone Age axe handle
Due to the area's exceptionally good conservation conditions, objects of organic material constantly appear from the gyttja. In a completely ordinary Stone Age dig, the majority of the objects are pottery and flint, as all wooden objects have perished, but in the area behind the Sea Flood Dike, the find situation is quite different.

 

One of the area's exciting finds is an axe handle, which is beautifully trimmed and rounded at the end. The axe head is no longer attached to the handle, as only the lower 15 cm of the handle have been preserved. It is therefore not possible to say anything about how the axe would have been hefted. However, various methods could have been applied, depending on the type of axe and the period from which it stems.

 

Axes

Flint-core axe (left) and flake axe (right), mounted

 

The axe was an important tool for Stone Age man, and probably one of the most used tools for clearing woodland for new fields, the construction of houses or for chopping firewood.

This axe handle is not the first of its kind in Denmark, as axe handles from the Neolithic Age have been found in the Christianholm bog by Copenhagen and in the Åmose bog in western Zealand, among other places.