The Malone Road hoard of Neolithic polished stone axes

Ulster Museum, Early Peoples gallery

Why are these stone axes from the Malone Road hoard so unusual?

Because they show no signs of use and are too large and heavy to chop down trees.

The stone axes from the Malone Road hoard are about 6000 years old. This is known as the Neolithic period when people farmed the land. Most other Neolithic axes are smaller and when fitted with a wooden handle, were used to cut wood.

The Malone Road axes could not be used in this way suggesting that their value lay in how they looked.

Stone axes were made by polishing and grinding their surface with sand and water. It took a lot of time, effort and skill to make them. Axes made in Ireland were traded with people from England and elsewhere.

The Malone Road hoard of 19 axes was discovered near the Ulster Museum in Belfast. They are the most impressive Neolithic hoard of axes from Ireland.

Look at the size of the axes and see how the surface is highly polished. There are two other axes, not from this hoard, which you can rub. The one that is rough to touch is not finished and needs to be polished.