A 5,000-year-old axe washed up on a Galway beach after the severe storms that battered Ireland in early 2014.
It was described as "a precious find" by experts.
Connemara resident Elizabeth Moylan came across the Mesolithic axe on the shoreline near her home after the storms had passed.
The Irish Times also reported on a second axe found in the same vicinity by her niece Lorna.
The late Mesolithic mudstone axe was used for hunting and has been described by Galway archaeologist Michael Gibbons as ‘extremely rare.’
Moylan discovered the axe near her home in Ardmore while a polished stone axe was found in the same area by her niece, Lorna.
Moylan told the paper that she was walking the shoreline after the storms when she discovered the object.
She then contacted Connemara-based Gibbons, who confirmed that the mudstone artifact dated to the late Mesolithic, pre-farming period, about 4,000-5,000 BC.
The Irish Times report says the axe may have been attached to a handle or strap using a deer antler.
The find is believed to be the most westerly example of several hunting implements found in the Galway Bay region.
Moylan told the paper, “We think that it may have been made in one of a number of axe factories in Co Clare and these implements were traded up the coastline.”
Her niece Lorna found a polished stone axe in the same location. Polished stone axes are of later origin and associated with farming.
Gibbons commented that mudstone was not local to the area where it was found, which suggests it was acquired in a ‘hunter-gatherer trade network’ extending from north Clare to the wider western Connacht region.
The report added that a Fanore axe-making site was washed away in the recent storms.
Gibbons said, “Several late Mesolithic finds have come to light in Connemara and the surrounding regions over the last few years, but this one pushes settlement in the Connemara Gaeltacht back further than we previously had evidence for.”
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