The shape and style of working of this hand-axe puts its date of origin in the Palaeolithic period. Although the period spans hundreds of thousands of years ( from the earliest known evidence of human activity in Europe until around 8,000 BC), this axe probably dates from some time between 25 and 50,000 years ago. It is thought that tools of this type were used for a variety of tasks, not just as axes. They were made by using another stone to chip away flakes until a sharpened edge was produced on a stone which would fit comfortably in the user's hand. Flints were most commonly used for these tools as they could give a sharp edge and a sharp flake of the stone made very useful cutting blades.
Museum records suggest that this axe was found at Shoelands Farm, Puttenham. The fact that its edges are still quite sharp also suggest that it was made, and remained in the local area. If it were more worn and rounded, it could have been brought in through the action of water (river erosion) or even glacial activity (during the last ice-age, which ended around 10,000 years ago). The hills around the River Wey contain the type of flint from which such axes were made.
During the Palaeolithic period England was still connected to what we know as continental Europe by a land bridge. Many kinds of animals roamed Southern England including elephants and hippos. During the Ice Age woolly mammoths were here. Palaeolithic people were nomadic and depended on hunting and scavenging for food. Their movement into this area could have been associated with the movements of groups of animals, which they hunted.
This palaeolithic axe is one of a number of items which were collected by members of the Allden family. Samuel Allden was the son of George who farmed at Shoelands in Puttenham and he appears to have had a keen interest in collecting artefacts from all periods of history. As well as the many flint implements found on and round Shoelands Farm, he acquired a large number of found objects from other areas. Samuel set up, along with his brother, a corn and seed business in Godalming and the museum also has in its collections items once owned by his daughter, Mary.
Surrey Archaeological Collections, Volume X1
Dixon, Shirley, 'The Allden Family Archive' in Godalming Museum Newsletter, Spring/ Summer 2000
Hunt, Roger (with Graham, David, Pattison Giles, Poulton, Rob), Hidden Depths - An Archaeological Exploration of Surrey's Past (Guildford: Surrey Archaeological Society, 2002)
All the above available for reference in Godalming Museum's Local Studies Library