The Axes

The axes date to about 700 BC, the end of the Bronze Age. In the Bronze Age, metal axe heads had wooden handles that were fitted into a socket at the blunt end of the axe. The axe head was then secured by lashing it in place with twine or binding.
The axes in the Dorset hoard are small, about 10 cm long. Sometimes their sides are decorated with raised ribs some of which end in circles. Experts call this type of axe a ‘linear facetted axe.’ A first assessment of the finds suggests that the axes from all four of the hoards are very similar.
But these axes had never been used. And it may be that they were never intended to be used.
The sockets of many of the axes were still filled with the sand that was put inside the stone moulds when they were cast. On most of the axes where metal had seeped out through the small gap between the two halves of the mould, the seepage had not been cleaned away. The recipe that was used to make the bronze alloy also contained a high proportion of tin or lead. This made the axes very shiny, but it also made them so brittle that they could never have been used as working tools.









All this evidence suggests that the axes were buried in the hoards shortly after they were cast. This might suggest that a bronze casting foundry stood nearby. But other evidence from Dorset suggests another story.