This stone adze from Hampshire, England, is made from fine-grained igneous stone. The adze dates to the Neolithic period in the British Isles, ca. 4500-6000 BP.
Adzes were hafted with the cutting edge at a right angle to the handle, in contrast to axes, which were hafted with the cutting edge parallel to the handle. The off-centre edge on this tool suggests that it was hafted as an adze. The adze was likely made by pecking but subsequent grinding removed all traces of the initial manufacturing process. The morphology is similar to Bridlington type axes. The symmetry and smooth finish are indicators of expert stone-working skills, and the adze may have been considerably longer prior to repeated resharpening. The pits on one face may be damage caused by burning.
During the Mesolithic period, Britain was connected to continental Europe by the land mass known as ‘Doggerland’. Doggerland flooded ca. 8200-8500 years ago, isolating the population there, who continued subsisting on hunting and gathering until the arrival of Neolithic farmers from Europe ca. 6000 BP, about 1000 years after they spread across Europe. A 2019 analysis of ancient DNA suggest these people were related to people in Iberia, who themselves came into Europe around the Mediterranean coast from a hinterland on the Aegean Sea. The Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were genetically replaced by these newcomers. A second wave of immigrants arrived ca. 4000-4500 BP, called the Bell Beaker culture, with DNA ancestry related to Yamnaya pastoralists who invaded Europe from the Western Steppe. Yamnaya ancestry composed about 90% of the genetic profile of subsequent populations in Britain ‘within a few hundred years’ after their arrival. The arrival of the Bell Beaker culture in Britain signals the beginning of the Bronze Age and the end of the Neolithic.