|11 October 2009
6,000-year-old axe found in Ireland
A rare archaeological find, dating back 6,000 years has been made in South Kilkenny (Ireland). A Neolithic axe head was found in Ballygorey, Mooncoin last week by a man out digging potatoes. The axe was found in a field by Pat Dunphy, a Fine Gael councillor who was picking spuds for the evening dinner. "I thought when it came up first that it was piece off a combine harvester but when I turned it over, I knew it was something different," he said.
It is the second axe found in Ballygorey. Another local found one in the 1970s and it is now with the National Museum in Dublin. The land in this area is fertile and close to the River Suir and probably was an ideal area for early human settlements. The people who used this type of axe were Ireland's first farmers. Domesticated animals and plants are known to have been introduced in this area six millennia ago from research carried out by archaeologists after the first Neolithic axe fund in the 1970s. These axes fundamentally changed the fabric of society because people no longer had to spend all their time hunting and they were less likely to go hungry when game was hard to find. Additionally, they could build much larger, more permanent dwellings and, perhaps most importantly, this was the first period that people had enough spare time in which to innovate. No wonder the people of the south are so ingenious.
These people who came from Britain and beyond began to settle from their nomadic culture, where previous to this they roamed the land in search of food and water and because of the alluvial soil and the proximity of the River suir, they found an ideal spot. The Neolithic settlers set about clearing upland forest (which was thinner and easier to clear than lowland forest) with these stone axes or by burning it, to build their permanent farms. As Ireland did not have many native cereal crops, and wild pigs were the only farm animals native to Ireland, the settlers brought with them cows, goats and sheep. It is conjectured that these animals were transported across the Irish Sea on wooden rafts towed by skin-boats or dug-out canoes. They also brought wheat and barley which they planted in their farms.
Source: Kilkenny People (6 October 2009)
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