Archaeologists Have Made The Stunning Discovery Of Extremely Well-Preserved Neolithic Stone Axes In Orkney

The 5,000-year-old Neolithic stone axes were found at the site of the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney.

Archaeologists have discovered numerous Neolithic stone axes in Orkney.
Lisa Marie Pane / AP Images

The 5,000-year-old Neolithic stone axes were found at the site of the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney.

Neolithic stone axes that date back 5,000 years have been discovered by archaeologists at an ancient site in Orkney. Along with these axes, tools, bones, and around 30,000 fragments of pottery were also recovered.

The site where the axes were found is known as the Ness of Brodgar, and researchers have asserted that this spot is by far one of the most immense Neolithic sites in all of Northern Europe, with a huge amount of artifacts having been recovered from it over the years, according to the BBC. After digging a trench, archaeologists made their discovery very close to the Loch of Stenness.

The Archaeology Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and the Ness of Brodgar Trust are both working in collaboration to completely excavate the site where the axes were recovered.

An Australian student who happened upon one of the Neolithic stone axes in Orkney has called it “an object of beauty,” and the axes have shown some signs of wear and tear from previous and repeated use in the past. However, the axes are still incredibly well-preserved, and archaeology student Therese McCormick admitted that she was absolutely “astonished” by the “sheer quality of workmanship” that would have gone into making these stone axes.

The stone that was used for constructing these Neolithic axes is known as a Gneiss stone and may have been chosen partly for its banding which is very light-colored and natural. After the stone had been chosen, the ax was then constructed and meticulously polished at the end of the process.

Nick Card, who is the site director in Orkney, noted that one of the Neolithic stone axes that archaeologists had found showed evidence that it had been used for actual work rather than for ceremonial purposes.

“It is nice to find pristine examples of stone axes, but the damage on this one tells us a little bit more about the history of this particular axe. The fact that the cutting edge had been heavily damaged suggests that it was a working tool rather than a ceremonial object.”

Card also explained that due to the nature of the construction of the buildings that would have once stood on this site, it is very likely that the axes were used to help build the timber joists that would keep the roofs in place.

“We know that the buildings in the complex were roofed by stone slabs so this axe was perhaps used to cut and fashion the timber joists that held up the heavy roof.”

After the recovery of the two Neolithic stone axes that were found in Orkney, excavation will be continuing at the site.