15 Jun 2010

At we have a story about an Iron Age grave in Norway that dates somewhere between 600 and 1000AD which contained a prehistoric stone axe head - made of greenstone. Such axes, the news blurb announces, symbolised thunderstones. The idea of a rock falling out of the sky as a result of lightning is common around the world it continues, and has an obvious connection with meteors - or lightning bolts. Stone axes were actually seen as protection, it says, against lightning and misfortune in general, and were connected with Thor in pre-Christian belief. Stone objects in graves of the Iron Age, and earlier, had to look like axes or hammers. Prehistoric tools are commonly found in such graves. Flintstone, in addition, was used to make fire - and therefore symbolised fire. However, the news blurb makes the suggestion the stone axe was placed in the grave by 19th century grave looters - as a form of protection. The writer clearly does not realise the importance of greenstone axes as a symbol. It may be that a Viking raider came across the stone axe on a raid to the south - but greenstone axes were widely traded around the Neolithic world and Scandinavia was in contact via trade routes with people who passed on such valuable objects. Why it was in an Iron Age grave is really not a mystery - or at least if the author had read anything about the 536-45AD event or the late 8th/early 9th century AD Viking raids in the wake of troubled skies.