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Amber Sofia Roy

Amber Sofia Roy

Project title

A Contextual and Comparative Analysis of the Uses and Significance of British Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Hafted Stone Implements


A bronze axehead.

Project description

I am investigating the use and significance of Bronze Age shaft-hole implements. These include battle-axes, axe-hammers, and mace-heads. I am using a combination of use-wear analysis, experimental archaeology and contextual assessment.

Currently, we believe that battle-axes were non-functional symbols of power. The cruder axe-hammer was neither, being too large and too crude to hold prestige. Use-wear analysis is a scientific method to explore the uses and significance of these implements. My use-wear analysis will combine:

  • direct observation by optical and metallographic microscopy
  • experimental tests
  • a new casting method specifically developed for groundstone tools as part of this project

In 1966, Fiona Roe carried out on stone battle-axes and axe-hammers.. This work has been key in understanding their typology, chronology, distribution, and context within the UK. Likewise, Malcom Fenton (1984) studied the production processes for those within Scotland. But there is yet to be a study focusing on their use.

Thus, the importance of my research is twofold.

It will be the first time that anyone has applied use-wear analysis to a large sample of British Early Bronze Age battle-axes and axe-hammers. This will provide an opportunity to reassess the role and significance of these objects.

Also, it is a valuable methodological addition to traceological research on groundstone tools. So far, these have received less attention than knapped and flaked industries.

Academic conference papers

  • Two posters at the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Student Symposium 2015 'The Hustle and Bustle of a Neolithic Stone Axe Factory: A Focus on Activities at Graig Lwyd' and 'A contextual and comparative analysis of the uses and significance of British Neolithic and Early Bronze Age hafted stone implements'.
  • Paper at the 9th International Annual Conference of the Archaeological Working Group Tools and Weapons 2016: "'Ambivalence": An analysis of the use of the Battle-Axe: functional or symbolic?'
  • Paper at Preistoria E Protostoria in Etruria, 13th Conference 2016 'The stone battle-axe: weapon, symbol, or something else entirely?'
  • Poster at the 13th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference 2016 'The Scandinavian Battle-Axe: An assessment' 
  • Paper at the GAO Annual Conference 2017 'Engagement across the Irish Sea: The connections of Irish Stone Mace-heads' 
  • Poster at the UK Archaeological Science Conference 2017 'Using acetate to replicate ground and polished stone surfaces'
  • Paper at the 14th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference 2017 'Identifying movement and use in ground and polished stone' 
  • Paper at the Bronze Age Forum 2017 'Analysing wear traces on British Early Bronze Age perforated stone tools: A preliminary assessment' 
  • Paper at the Association of Archaeological Wear and Residue Analysts Conference 2018 'More than one way to skin a cat': A preliminary assessment of British perforated stone implements 

Other roles

Experimental Archaeology Newcastle Research Group (EXARN) Committee Member Postgraduate Forum Seminar Coordinator


  • Roy, A. 2016. 'The Scandinavian Battle-Axe: An Assessment', in Pons Aelius, 13, 4-12. 
  • Roy, A. 2017. 'A contextual and comparative analysis of the uses and significance of Northern British perforated stone implements: A preliminary study', in Stonechat, 6, 7-15.


I completed both my Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Archaeology and my Masters in Celtic Archaeology at Bangor University.                   

BA dissertation title - Exchange relationships in the Irish Sea Zone: An examination of Neolithic stone axes in eastern Ireland and northwest Wales.

MA dissertation title - The Hustle and Bustle of a Neolithic Stone Axe Factory: A Focus on Activities at Graig Lwyd.


My research interests are:

  • Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain and Europe
  • Polished and ground stone implements and lithics
  • Wear analysis
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Material studies
  • Neolithic and Bronze Age society