Power: The Riches of Clare

Bronze Socketed Axehead

This socketed axehead was found as part of a Late Bronze Age (1000-600 BC) hoard of ten bronze objects in the townland of Lahardan, parish of Tulla, barony of Tulla Upper on 25 May, 1861. The hoard was found at a depth of 2.13m in a raised bog.

This looped socketed axehead is one of two from the same hoards and is bag shaped and well preserved. There is a double groove around the mouth of the socket and it is considered to be a well made piece. The lip is slightly bevelled and it projects outwards a little. Underneath there is a ridge with a groove on each side. A casting seam is visible on each of the narrow sides. Internally there is a casting ridge that extends up to about mid-point on each face. (Eogan, 1983). Length: 5cm; External Diameter of mouth 3.9cm by 2.4cm; Width of edge; 4.1cms.

During the Bronze Age metal objects were deliberately deposited in rivers, bogs and lakes. The act of placing these objects, either in hoards or singly, in water and watery contexts was no doubt overtly ritual and may have been linked to events such as births or deaths in the community. Although depositing the metal was a ritual act, political and economic benefits resulted. It is possible that Bronze Age social hierarchies were in part maintained by controlling the exchange of prestigious items such as metalwork. Ritually depositing metal was public display of the destruction of wealth and could be used to build personal status. At the same time, metal was taken out of circulation thereby controlling its supply and value.


Clare Places: Lahardaun Townland, Tulla Parish
Clare Places: Tulla Parish
Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1845: Barony of Tulla Upper

The Bronze Age
Clare Archaeology
National Museum of Ireland: Irish Antiquities Division Collection

Eogan, George. 1983. The hoards of the Irish later Bronze Age. University College Dublin, Dublin.

Bronze Socketed Axehead, R507

Bronze Socketed Axehead, R507

Bronze Socketed Axehead, R507

Bronze Socketed Axehead, R507

Photographs appear courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland