FOSSIL hunters were left astonished after finding an axe dating back over 30,000 years on Walton beach.

This extremely rare tool can be traced back to the stone ages, with some predictions guessing it could even be up to 180,000 years old.

It is believed this artefact was made and used during the Middle Paleolithic stage of human development.

This means it would have been fashioned by a near descendent of Neanderthal, living co-operatively in groups supporting each other to survive droughts and capture large prey for food.

Steven Walker, a member of the fossil hunters who has lived in Walton for over 50 years, explained the group were overjoyed and astonished when a member of the team discovered the very special axe.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Sharp - The fossilised axe has weathered its fair share of storms over the yearsSharp - The fossilised axe has weathered its fair share of storms over the years

The fossil enthusiast, who is in his 60s, said: “This is one of the most important ancient objects found at the Naze.

“It appeared after a recent cliff fall and, while it is known the Naze Cliffs are internationally renowned for the rare Red Crag fossil deposits such as sharks teeth, there are also flint tools and arrow heads to be discovered.

“A Neolithic site was discovered many years ago at the north west tip of the Naze.

“This period of history dates around 10,000 years ago and is recognised by more features of organised settlement and agricultural production.

“The Middle Paleolithic was characterised by no sexual division of labour, meaning women shared all tasks, therefore equally enabling the whole group to increase their chances of survival.

“It is ironic as we grieve the loss of land to the sea due to rising sea levels, the geological strata does then yield treasure such as this.

“We are currently canvassing support to open a fossil museum in the town which would attract more visitors, provide a boost to local traders and add to the fantastic heritage we can be proud of.”

The coastline here is renowned for its special finds and has made headlines before with uncovered treasure.

This includes the infamous Clacton Spear, a tip of a wooden spear discovered in Clacton-on-Sea in 1911.

It is 400,000 years old and the oldest known worked wooden implement.

Also discovered in 1911 was the Clactonian, a type of European flint tool manufacture that dates to the early part of the interglacial period known as the Hoxnian, the Mindel-Riss or the Holstein stages – about 400,000 years ago.