[Stone hammer found near Ballycastle]

Artist(s) : John Barrow (Draughtsman)

Two views of a stone hammer found in a coal mine at or near Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, and in the possession of the author, John Barrow. The view on the left shows the stone with its original groove, that on the right has a conjectural handle of twisted willow, hazel or leather, and a wedge for tightening it.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Stone hammer found in an ancient Colliery. The same with the handle and wedge.

Image Details

Genre Scientific or Technical illustration
Technique Woodcuts
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites
Geographical Location
  • Ballycastle - Town or city - The location is at or near Ballycastle, or between Ballycastle and Carrickmore.
  • Antrim - County
  • Ulster - Province
Keywords(s) Antiquities, Mining, Tools
Colour Monochrome
Published / created 1836

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account A Tour round Ireland [Barrow]
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy p. 72
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 9141 b 3

Related text from travel account

It is related by Dr. Hamilton, that a discovery was made, in his time, of chambers that had been worked, and of various tools, baskets, &c., deposited therein; the latter so decayed that, on being touched, they immediately crumbled to pieces. The implements that had been employed were very different from those in use at the present day; and the wicks of the candles were formed of rags. The great antiquity of this mine may be inferred, from the hammers made use of being formed of boulders of stone, one of which I have in my possession, It is of ponderous and close-grained basalt, about four pounds in weight; some being heavier and others lighter: has a groove evidently made with difficulty round it, the ends meeting in a flat surface underneath, against which the wedge, that was used to tighten the shaft of the hammer, appears to have been placed, and which shaft was probably a twisted with of willow or hazel, or a strap of tough hide passed round the groove. The figure in the following page will perhaps convey a clearer description than I can otherwise give.
[p. 72] [image] This colliery must evidently have been worked long before the discovery of gunpowder, as no trace of blasting appears. The ancient use of stone hammers is not confined to this part of the United Kingdom: the same thing has been found in an old colliery near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, together with some flint wedges. The working of the Antrim mine had apparently stopped short on arriving at one of the whin-dykes, which the miners could not penetrate. It is recorded, that in these places where the coal was in contact with the whin-stone, it was blistered or burnt into cinders. The same thing happens in other collieries, wherever the whin-dykes have penetrated the coal strata. These whin-dykes, it appears, are very frequent along the coast of Antrim, intersecting the limestone strata, of which the cliffs are mostly composed, and then [p. 73] burying themselves in the sea, from whence they emerge on the opposite shores of Scotland. [pp. 71-73]
Stone hammer found near Ballycastle