Posted by: nativeiowan | February 26, 2012

An interesting thread…

I am in contact with a museum in the UK trying to date a steel headed axe. I hope this is of interest to those who know the Solomons, but, also – very importantly –  I would like to ask old Solo hands if they have any artefacts they may have forgotten about or may not know what they actually have. It may look like a stone but could well be something imoportant.

I ask because the museum here has long been ransacked and for all practical purposes the only real collection of Solomon Island artefacts is in private hands. So, I would be interested to know “what is out there”.

Letter to the Hawley Collection @ Kelham Island Museum:

Greetings from Honiara, Solomon Islands,

Sorry for the delay. I have been traveling.

Funny that you mention pork… It was as prized as human flesh in some places, and humans were at time referred to as “long pigs”.

I have been collecting artefacts here in the Solomons for the 30 years it has been my home. My wife’s father and mother were born before first contact. Her maternal grandfather was a well respected collector of heads.

I have been intrigued by the unwritten history of this land since day-one.

WWII drug the Solomons into the 20th century.

As a description of a headhunting axe I use Judith Bennett’s book “The Wealth of the Solomons” ( ) where she describes the introduction of “trade axes” as a pivotal point in the history of the Solomons. Upon the introduction of steel, those tribes that were in a position to trade with the white-men became dominant, noting that prior to the arrival of Europeans the land here was “stone-age”.

This is a picture of the Sorby axe and an old stone axe with a rattan shield, and a bit of a black-palm spear. I have no doubt the long handled stone axe was a warrior’s weapon. The shield and spear are bone fide. If I can date the Sorby head I’d be delighted.

And we can see how a warrior with a steel headed axe would quickly dominate one utilising stone.

In my collection I have 8 steel headed, long hafted killing axes, two bone fide stone-head killing axes, plus a number of heads, both steel and stone, hafted and unhafted, that were general implements. . But only one steel head offers any markings I can decipher:

Do appreciate your time here.

best regards


On 01/02/2012, at 10:15 AM, Hawley Collection wrote:

Hello from the Hawley Collection,

Hope this arrives – my previous attempt bounced back.

Do you have a picture you could send please.

And do the Solomon Islanders like pork for dinner?  Butchering seems much more likely!


Christine Ball and Ken Hawley

Hawley Collection @ Kelham Island Museum

Ken Hawley Collection Trust

Kelham Island Museum, Alma Street, Sheffield, S3 8RY, South Yorkshire, UK

Telephone: 0114 201 0770

Kelham Island Museum General Enquiries: 0114 272 2106

Email:, website:

Ken Hawley Collection Trust,  Registered Charity No: 1057887 Company No: 02925721

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