Riches of Clare Exhibition - Power collect, preserve, interpret and display the material culture relating to the history of County Clare, both in the museum building and online,
as an educational resource and a socially inclusive cultural service for the people of Clare and visiting tourists.

Bronze Socketed Bag-shaped Axehead

This socketed axehead was found as part of a small hoard of Late Bronze Age (1000-600 BC) objects in the townland of Booltiaghdine, in the parish of Killinaboy, barony of Inchiquin. The group of objects has all the signs of a personal hoard - the possession of an individual lost or buried at some time for a reason or reasons unknown. A date to the Late Bronze Age is the most likely for all the components of the Booltiaghadine hoard or more specifically to the final phase of it which started during the 8th century BC. Dr George Mc Namara who displayed the hoard at the General Meeting of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland held at Lisdoonvarna in 1900 noted that the two smaller items in the hoard, the chisel and razor, were found inside the socket of the axehead.

The axehead is in good condition except that a hole has corroded through the wall of the socket in one place. The surface is not particularly smooth, and the splayed cutting-edge is now somewhat blunted. The lip is slightly bevelled and a collar surrounds the neck. On each side a casting seam occurs and internally, at midpoint on each face, a thick ridge extends from the base to the mouth. (Eogan, 1983). Length: 8.4cm; Width at cutting edge: 6.1 cm; Internally: 3.6cm x 3.3 cm at mouth.

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: Booltiaghadine Townland, Killinaboy Parish
Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1845: Barony of Inchiquin
Clare Places: Lisdoonvarna: Historical Background
The Bronze Age
Clare Archaeology

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

Bronze Socketed Bag-shaped Axehead, 1942:75

Bronze Socketed Bag-shaped Axehead, 1942:75

Bronze Socketed Bag-shaped Axehead, 1942:75

Bronze Socketed Bag-shaped Axehead, 1942:75

Bronze Socketed Bag-shaped Axehead, 1942:75
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Photographs appear courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland

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