Jadeite Axehead

Early Neolithic, 4000–3000BC

This highly polished jade axe is an extremely rare and beautiful find which is alleged to have come from a barrow near Stonehenge.

Jade axes were already old when they reached Britain having been made from rock quarried in the Italian Alps. The group of tough green minerals used to describe jade include jadeitite, nephrite and eclogite. Scientists using non-destructive techniques can detect the different jade types and several quarries have been identified. This axe is made from eclogite and came from a quarry near Mount Visco in the Italian Alps.

Axes like this were traded and exchanged over long distances. They are highly polished and some may never have been used. Such precious and desirable objects represented power and their meaning changed over time as they were worked into myths of past communities.

Other items in the The Wessex Gallery collection