A STONE hand axe dating back to 3500 BC has been found in a field near Martyr Worthy.

The object was found by metal detectorist and archaeology enthusiast Jeremy de Montfalcon, of Hulse Road, Southampton.

The axe has been verified as authentic by Laura McLean, of the Portable Antiquities Scheme based the Hyde Historic Resources Centre.

It was probably used by some of the first farmers to settle near Winchester in the Neolithic times.

Mr de Montfalcon said: "It was a bit of a surprise because I have gone through a period of finding flint.

"This is the first hand axe I have found since 1969. It would have been used by some of the first farmers who worked the land near Winchester.

"When I was out in the field I became aware of something in the corner of my eye and when I went to have a look, the axe was just lying there. "It would have been used by someone with quite a small hand, maybe a young man, as an every-day tool.

"It would have been used for pounding up bone and flesh or chopping wood. Finding something like this is extremely rare."

Mr de Montfalcon said he will ask Winchester-based artist, Alan Cracknell, to draw his new find in intricate detail before he offers to loan it to Winchester Museum.