Coming out of the Stone Age

Clare People, Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

By Claire Gallagher

A little piece of Miltown Malbay’s Bronze Age has been donated to Clare Museum.

The looped-and-socketed bronze axehead was by local farmer, James Marrinan during field-drainage operations in the townland of Knockloskeraun some years ago.

He found the 3,000 year old artefact on the surface of a spoil heap while digging a drainage trench in his field.

The axe is only 6.5 cm long and 5 cm wide, and is badly corroded in places. The socket at the base of the axe was used to place the axe head on a haft, while the loop extending from the base would have been used to lash the head securely to the handle. This loop is now almost completely corroded away after three millenia exposed to the elements.

The ancient object has now been claimed for the state under the National Monuments Act. In the past such objects were immediately sent to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, where it would have been placed in a store perhaps for decades, but this is no longer the case according to curator, John Rattigan.

“The axe is now property of the state, but as Clare Museum is a designated building under the National Cultural Institutions Act, this archaeological object can stay in Clare where it belongs” said museum curator John Rattigan

The axe requires conservation before being put on display, but a photograph will be placed on the museum website in coming weeks. In the meantime, there are several other looped and socketed axeheads from the county already on display in the Riches of Clare exhibition, all of which come from the county.

While there are various archaeological monuments, particularly ringforts, in the Miltown Malbay area, this bronze axe is the first recorded archaeological find from the townland of Knockloskeraun and only the second from the parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane.

In about 1960, a hollow-based arrowhead was discovered nearby in the townland of Doolough. This arrowhead dates from the “new stone age” also known as the Neolithic and is even older than the bronze axehead.

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