A cache of celts showing the variety in use at once.  Collection of Jackie Fuller

While the axe underwent changes through time toward the discontinuation of the groove, the change was not complete until some time during the Woodland period, when the grooved, ground-stone axe was replaced by the celt (the grooveless axe) as a utilitarian tool form. This is not to say that the celt did not appear until the Woodland period. In fact, while no one really knows when celts were first used, there is evidence that they were in use during the Middle if not the Early Archaic period. Known early celts lacked the material selection and finished look of later celts and may have appeared more adz-like in form.

Not only had the groove disappeared during the Woodland period, but this new form of axe was smaller and much lighter.The poll area of this axe form was also very different.The poll of the grooved ax was often the largest part of the axe, but it is the smallest part of the celt.




These celts are typically long, measuring between 6 and 15 inches in length. Their length may have been a measure of status for the owner. They are well made and have a medium polish. All edges are excurvate with the widest part being just past mid length toward the blade. Resharpening would change those proportions.



This is a Middle Woodland celt and is often well finished and made of high-grade hardstone. The widest point is at the lower blade and narrows to a blunt poll. Some examples may be nearly round in cross section. They can vary in length from 4 to 12 inches.


Perforated celts are very limited in distribution. The purpose of the perforation is unknown. It may be an unusual hafting method for ceremonial celts or it may have been worn as a pendant. They usually range from 3 to 5 inches in length. This example from the Etowah Mounds site in Bartow County is unusual in that the perforation is central to the blade and the length exceeds the normal 5 inches. Perforations are normally toward the poll end of the celt opposite the blade.


This is an uncommon celt form more often found in the Midwestern United States where it dates to Late Mississippian period. The pole is pointed and the body of the celt is round.



This is one of two major celt forms associated with the Adena culture.It is an Early Woodland artifact.The celt poll may be elongated or squared, but the poll cross-section will be a rectangular in form.This example is 2 inches in length.Most celts of this type are between 4 and 6 inches in length.



These are usually well made. The poll and bit are almost the same width. The sides are sometimes excurvate but may be nearly straight. Both sides are nearly flat and are often highly polished. As the name implies, these celts are usually associated with Hopewell related sites.


This second celt form associated with Adena related sites is also an Early Woodland form.Whether the celt is wide or narrow, the poll in cross-section will appear rounded or oval.



Similar to several other flared-blade celts, this type differs from the others in that both faces and the boll have been flattened. The corners may be somewhat rounded. High-grade hardstone was usually selected for this rare form of celt. This example measures 6 inches in length.



This is an Early Mississippian celt form that is well made and exaggerated in length. The example pictured here is over 12 inches in length. Examples can measure between 8 and 13 inches long. Very good grades of hardstone were usually selected for these high quality celts.



This celt is somewhat triangular and is tapered toward the poll. The poll top is slightly excurvate. This type is usually highly polished, but often lower grades of material are chosen. The Mississippian period Fort Ancient culture had as many as a half dozen celt forms. Most had flat faces and were tapered, flared, or conical.


These copper celts were recovered from the Etowah Mound complex where copper was used in many ceremonial forms.  The Etowah complex dates to the Middle Mississippian period.  Portions of the wooden hafting remain attached to several of the recovered examples.