Waterford Artifact May Be
Oldest in Ireland

A flint axe found in County Waterford similar to this one may be the oldest Irish artifact ever.
A flint axe found in County Waterford similar to this one may be the oldest Irish artifact ever.

By Julia Brodsky, Contributor
February / March 2016

In mid-2015, a group of fishermen off the coast of Waterford inadvertently picked up what could potentially be Ireland’s oldest archeological artifact. While trawling for scallops off Creaden Head near Woodstown, they also caught a fragment of a flint axe, which they turned over to the Waterford History Group.

The fragment has since traveled to University College Cork for age testing, but local historians are still buzzing about the similarities between the Waterford axe and a similar one found in Norfolk in 2001, which turned out to be 700,000 years old. Waterford History Group member Vincent O’Brien noted, “That was a game-changer over there because they had to re-write the history books in the U.K.”

The Waterford axe may be a similar game-changer, as it could prove that a tribe of people existed in Ireland over one million years ago. Historian Noel McDonagh, who studies flint artifacts of bygone eras, has said that if the Waterford axe is proved to be as old as the Norfolk one, “it would re-write the whole history of early Ireland.” The axe could potentially prove that tribes of people have lived in Ireland since the earliest part of the Paleolithic Era.

In addition to rewriting history in Ireland, the Waterford axe could also be among the oldest of its kind found in all of Europe, making it hugely significant internationally, as well as nationally. ♦

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