Boyerstown Stone Axe

Boyerstown townland, County Meath, from a ploughed field.

Flat thick butt. Full oval cross section. Length 9.5 cm. Width 6 cm. Thickness 3.2 c. A green grit.

The axehead was found by Peter Callaghan, Ongenstown, Navan while ploughing at Boyerstown, Navan in 1930.

J.Raftery, Keeper of Irish Antiquities, wrote to Fred McElroy, Principal of Boyerstown National School 26th November, 1958:

" Mrs. McCormack has kindly brought in to me, at your request, the stone specimen recently found at Boyerstown. This is a polished stone axehead which may safely be dated to the Neolithic Period or the New Stone Age, in figures, to somewhere between 2500 and 2000 B.C. I have asked my colleague, Dr. Jackson, Keeper of our Natural History Division and who is an expert geoologist, to give me his opinion as to the material of which the specimen is composed and this I shall communicate to you.

We are naturally most interested in all relics of Ireland's past found in this country; and, for our records, I would there be grateful if you would kindly fill in whatever details you can on page two of the enclosed form and return to me. Would you, at the same time be prepared to part with the axehead to the National Museum, either through donation or sale.

You may wonder why we would like to get this specimen when we already have other specimens; the reason is simple: every ancient object is handmade and its personal peculiarities may tell us much. As well, when a specimen is well localised, as is yours, we may get a great amount of information of a social, economic or political nature which would otherwise escape us.

For instance, through an examination of stone axes scattered over a wide area we have been able to isolate one axe factory of the Neolithic. This was at Tievebulliagh in County Antrim and axes made there were exported in large numbers to all parts of Ireland and to Britian also. It is by plotting the occurence of every single specimen that we are able to some extent to indicate where the ancient trade routes ran.

In this connection, one remembers the skilful manner in which the great transcontinental Amber Routes of the Bronze Age were located by the careful study of every amber find from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. Had any finds been missing there would have been inevitable gaps which would have tended to obscure the picture. I have written at some length to try to explain to you that we are not greedy for specimens alone, but for the scientific information they hold. "

Source: Reprinted from The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Volume XC11, Part 11, 1962. page 145 Item 819.