Why were the axes buried?

The burial of so many axes poses a puzzle for archaeologists:
  • Were they buried by a traveling metalworker to be used at a later date?
  • Were they buried for safekeeping in times of trouble?
  • Or were they buried as a gift to the gods by deliberately putting valuable objects beyond the reach of mortals?
The discovery in Dorset of other hoards of axes of the same type makes the idea of traveling metalworkers less likely. This evidence might suggest instead that there were troubled times at the end of the Bronze Age.
But hoards of bronze objects were buried throughout the Bronze Age and in such numbers to suggest that at the beginning of the metal age, metal was important enough for objects made of it to be sacrificed as offerings to the gods. The hoards lay undisturbed because, as gifts to the gods, they had gone beyond the land of the living.
The axes in the Dorset hoard could not have been used. Instead it is as if they were ingots of metal made in the shape of an axe. From the Stone Age axes made from stone from the highest hills, perhaps where the gods lived, had been objects regarded as having special powers. At the beginning of the Bronze Age, metal axes were treated as special objects.
At the end of the Bronze Age, when iron had already started to be used, it is almost as if symbolic axes were used as a form of currency, as a measure of wealth.
It is almost as if the values of the offerings to the god could be measured in terms of the amount of metals used, and that at the very end of the Bronze Age, the shape that embodied the value of metal was the one that was used at the beginning of the Bronze Age; an axe.
And judged against such measures, the offerings to the gods that were made at the place where the Dorset Hoard was found, was a special sacrifice.