Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 14:09 UK

Bronze Age axe 'factory' survey

Part of a Bronze Age axe (picture: Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust)
Part of a Bronze Age axe made from picrite rock

Archaeologists are hoping to unearth evidence of what they believe to have been one of Bronze Age Britain's largest axe-making "factories".

Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) said the axes, made from a distinctive type rock - known as picrite - had been found throughout the country.

A three-week survey at the 4,000-year-old site will start soon in Hyssington, near Welshpool, Powys.

The trust's Chris Martin said it may have been a large industrial centre.

The trust carried out a preliminary survey last year, but it did not uncover the factory site.

However, it said test results from 2007 proved that picrite had been mined in an area known locally as Cwm Mawr, and a study in the 1950s had suggested it was an area where axes had been made.

We're not sure if the axes were used to split logs or split heads
Chris Martin, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust

Archaeologist Mr Martin added: "The axes are more commonly found in the border areas and the West Midlands, but they have been found throughout Britain, as far apart as Devon and Cornwall and the north of England.

"As the axes have been found around Britain it suggests they were exported in quite large numbers.

"As for their uses, we're not sure if the axes were used to split logs or split heads or just used for ceremonial duties."

Mr Martin said they were fairly distinctive because they were made of a certain type of picrite rock, which could be traced back to the Cwm Mawr area.

"We assume that quite a few people worked at the site and in terms of the Bronze Age it could have been quite a big industrial centre," he said.

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