A flint axe found by fisherman along the Waterford coast may be one of the oldest artifacts ever found in Ireland. Tests will be carried out in coming weeks to determine the age of the axe, which is believed to be hundreds of thousands of years old.

The Irish Times reports that a group of fisherman found the axe while they were trawling for scallops off Creaden Head near Woodstown in Co Waterford.

The fisherman gave the axe to the Waterford History Group, which has arranged to have it tested at University College Cork.

Local historians have pointed out similarities between the flint axe and one found in 2001 in Norfolk, which turned out to be about 700,000 years old.

“That was a game-changer over there because they had to re-write the history books in the UK,” said Vincent O’Brien, of the Waterford History Group..

The Waterford axe “proves that there was a tribe of people here in Ireland over a million years ago, and possibly more,” he said.

O’Brien told The Irish Times that the find is of “significant national and international importance” as the axe could be one of the oldest of its kind ever discovered in Europe and could be the oldest artifact of any kind ever found in Ireland.

Historian Noel McDonagh said he doesn’t want to make any predictions until the test results are in, but he is “happy enough that it’s something very, very unusual.”

McDonagh said that if the markings on the axe are authenticated as being as old as that of the Norfolk axe, “it would re-write the whole history of early Ireland.”

“I’d have a lot of flint from the mesolithic and neolithic periods but I’ve never seen anything like this before.”