Archaeologists left stunned after girl on dog walk at National Trust site discovers rare neolithic axe-head

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The 10-year-old picked the item up at a National Trust estate, thinking it was a rock - but it turned out to be the ‘find of a lifetime’.

A schoolgirl has been praised by experts after unearthing a rare artefact during a dog walk - a rare 6,000-year-old Neolithic axe head. Evie Numan picked the piece up at a National Trust estate in Surrey, thinking it was a rock.

But the item turned out to be a complete flint axe head - which could be worth up to £1,000. Mum Gemma Morris, 34, contacted experts, who praised Evie for her “outstanding find”.

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She joked that her 10-year-old daughter might be reluctant to give her treasure up. Gemma, a civil servant from Atwood, Surrey, said :“Evie was so excited to find it, she’s into all that stuff anyway and she loves history so she couldn’t believe it.

“The archaeologist said it was an outstanding find and called it the find of a lifetime. He said it was a museum standard piece, so the National Trust will probably want it - I don’t think she’s going to want to give it up easily when they want it back.”

Gemma was walking her dog at Harewoods in Redhill, Surrey, with Evie and her sister Poppy, five, when the find was made. The mum immediately noticed the unusual marks on the rock and suggested they take it home to find out more.

And when Evie searched for some more information online, they quickly noticed it appeared to be an ancient axe head. They then took the item to Surrey Archaeological Society where their theory was confirmed and they discovered the rare item was an astounding 6,000 years old.

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Archaeologists recorded the find on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website, run by the British Museum, where the entry describes the find as a “complete flint axe head” which has been “partially polished”. The axe head, which Gemma believes to be worth over £1,000, was found on National Trust property and the family are waiting to hear what the organisation plans to do with the item.

“My kids are always digging around and looking for stuff on the floor,” said Gemma. “We were walking around Harewoods when Evie ran over and said I’ve found something cool, and she passed me this rock.

Evie Numan, 10, picked the piece up at a National Trust estate in Surrey, thinking it was a rock.Evie Numan, 10, picked the piece up at a National Trust estate in Surrey, thinking it was a rock.
Evie Numan, 10, picked the piece up at a National Trust estate in Surrey, thinking it was a rock. | SWNS

“As soon as she showed it to me, I thought ‘hold onto that’ - there were chisel markings in it. I knew we’d found something worth looking at – I emailed Surrey Archaeological Society some pictures and took it to Surrey History Centre.

“The field she found it in had recently been ploughed and the archaeologist said it’s lucky that the plough hadn’t smashed it. He said the damage to some of the sharp end was created all that time ago – it’s been completely untouched all that time.

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“There are people who spend their lives looking for these kinds of things, he was really excited about it too.”

James Brown, regional archaeologist for National Trust Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex said: “It’s spectacular to know a 10-year-old found the axe head – a lot of National Trust archaeologists including myself are very jealous. If people find objects like this, we ask that they take pictures and send us a grid reference.

Gemma Morris and Evie Numan.Gemma Morris and Evie Numan.
Gemma Morris and Evie Numan. | Gemma Morris / SWNS

“If they do remove it from the ground, we encourage them to report it to their Local Finds Liaison Officer who can identify various finds with support from the British Museum. For us it’s important to have a location for these finds so we can map where they’ve come from and add to our other knowledge and expand the story of that site and its history.

“The great thing is that a 10-year-old has recognised it as something unusual – she’s picked it up and potentially the last time someone was holding that object was thousands of years ago. The great thing about archaeology is everyone can do it – we want people to come and experience the joys of archaeology.

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“The National Festival of Archaeology is on over the next week – people can find out what’s going on near them and potentially experience it for themselves.”

Surrey Archaeological Society have been contacted for comment.

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