The long-awaited launch of Stone Axe Studies III took place
with a wine reception held during the Hands Across the Water
Conference in Bournemouth on Saturday 07 May 2011. This important,
and highly successful, Conference was organized jointly by the
Prehistoric Society, the School of Applied Sciences of the Bournemouth
University, La Société Préhistorique Française and the Neolithic
Studies Group. It was a fitting occasion for the book launch; one of
the editors attended. Oxbow thanked both editors for their strong
cooperation and determination in bringing the handsome volume to
publication, and especially for the high quality of its design and
From the beginning of the discipline, stone and flint axes have
occupied an important place in the archaeological imagination.
Building blocks in the foundation of ideas about prehistory, they have
been prominent in the literature ever since, definitive fossils of
particular periods and touchstones for arguments about the character
of human society over time.
Bringing together the results of research from around the world, this
volume makes it clear that our fascination with these artifacts is
nothing new. Whatever the cultural setting, the period or place, axes
have loomed large in the collective imagination. And they have done
so in ways that cut across the academic line we often draw between the
practical facts of use and the meaningful qualities of material
Many of the papers collected here take us from the birth of axes at
specific sources to their death in graves, hoards and other settings.
Others trace the afterlives of blades in more recent collections.
Documenting research in lab, field and archive, they demonstrate that
then, as now, the biographies of axes and people are hard to