A flat and heavy cutting tool of stone or metal in which the cutting edge is parallel to the haft. Its main function was for wood working but it could have served, indeed sometimes it is clearly designed to serve, as a weapon of war, the battleaxe. Differences in materials used and the methods of hafting change the form axes took over the years.
Palaeolithic handaxes are not strictly axes and were more like general purpose tools for cutting and scraping, such as that found in Bulstrode Park. Many Neolithic stone and flint axes have been found in Buckinghamshire, including one at Toweridge near West Wycombe and lots in the Thames. They were probably used for woodworking and timber felling. Axes were made out of metal for the first time in the Bronze Age, such as the one found on the Hampden Estate. At first the metal axes were hafted in a similar way to flint axes but later in the Bronze Age axes had sockets for more secure hafting.
A battleaxe is designed as a weapon of war. It is always of the shaft-hole variety, and frequently has a hammer, knob or point at the opposite end from the cutting edge. In stone, they are common throughout most of Europe in the Late Neolithic and Copper Age, associated with Corded Ware and Beakers. In iron, the axe was a popular weapon with the Vikings, and continued well into the Middle Ages, such as the ones found at Cursley Hill and Lillingstone Dayrell.