The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Length: 13.400 cm (of longest axe)
Gift of Canon W. Greenwell
P&EE 1879 12-9 1947-53, 1956-58, 1960-62, 1964-66
Hoard from Ayton East Field
Later Neolithic, about 3000-2500 BC
North Yorkshire, England
A person of some importance?
This hoard was found in a pit dug into the top of an oval cairn. The burial cairn, constructed of limestone rubble, was first opened by A.D. Conyngham in 1848. Surviving records suggest that the hoard was found with a burial. The surviving finds comprise three flint axes and a flint adze, five lozenge-shaped arrowheads, a polished flint knife and two flakes, an antler 'macehead' and two boar-tusk blades.
The custom of burying individuals with prestigious grave-goods had begun by 3000 BC. The earlier Neolithic practice was of burial in communal tombs, with few objects placed with the dead. In this later period, individuals of some status in the community were buried with selected items of their personal property. This must indicate a more ranked society, where access to such 'special' objects became restricted to the few.
D.V. Clarke, T.G. Cowie and A. Foxon, Symbols of power at the time o (London, HMSO, 1985)
I.A. Kinnes and I.H. Longworth, Catalogue of the excavated Pre (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)
I.A. Kinnes, Round barrows and ring-ditches (London, The British Museum Press, 1979)