Miniature Socketed Axe, Sutton

Image of miniature socketed axe

A Late Iron Age to Roman miniature socketed axe found near Sutton.

In this month’s Featured Find, we take you back to 2009 when this almost complete miniature socketed axe was recovered by a metal detector user. The axe is triangular in profile and has a socketed mouth with a single transverse mouth moulding. It tapers into a broadly crescentic blade, which has some post-depositional damage in one corner of the cutting edge. It measures 31.02mm in length, 16.57mm in width at blade end and only weighs 13.11g.

This example is part of a curious classification of artefact known as the ‘miniature’, dating to the Late Iron Age to Roman periods. Miniatures from this time often relate to weaponry, including shields, swords and spears but there are also examples of agricultural tools such as ploughs. They are usually associated with religious and ritual activities, with many examples recovered from temple sites or burials. One explanation for this is that they were inexpensive substitutions for their larger ‘real-world’ prototypes, whilst others have suggested they were simply toys for children.

A notable feature of the miniature is their realistic rendering of the larger objects they represented. It suggests they depict objects encountered in every-day life. Whilst many miniature axes represent contemporary Iron Age and Roman axes, many socketed examples closely mimic examples used in the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. Given that Bronze Age axes have been unearthed from Roman temples in Britain and northern Europe, it raises the possibility that such miniatures were deliberate representations of ancient tools and valued for this reason.

View the full record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database

Thank you to the finder for allowing this object to be featured.

This find was recorded by the Suffolk Finds Recording Team, supported by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

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