The stone industry of the Funnel Beaker Culture of Mälardalen and Bergslagen is characterised by a production of thin-butted greenstone axes, round-butted axes, polygonal battle-axes, saddle-querns, axe polishing stones, and small tools made of quartz flakes. Apart from the locally produced stone implements the find inventories often include exotic artefacts in the form of point- and thin-butted flint axes originating in the TRB of Southern Scandinavia, and slate knives and points from the Early Neolithic Slate Culture of Northern Scandinavia.
Petrographic studies of porphyrite debitage found at a couple of neighbouring TRB sites in western Mälardalen suggest that the inhabitants of each settlement had access to a porphyrite dyke each for local production of thin-butted axes. Even so, many of the finished axes found at the same settlements were made of non-local porphyrite, suggesting a socially motivated circulation of axes - socially motivated since the acquired axes were more or less identical to the ones locally produced. Data on production of saddle-querns also suggest a local production of this tool. The locally produced knob-butted polygonal battle-axes of Mälardalen correspond to Zápotocký's type KIII and KV. The same types of battle-axes also occur in the rest of Central Sweden and in Southern Norway, while the battle-axes of, for example, Scania and Denmark were designed according to different norms. The type of polygonal battle-axe that is most similar to the axes of Mälardalen and Bergslagen, are the KIB axes of the Mondsee-group in Austria.
The Funnel Beaker pottery of Mälardalen and Bergslagen is considered to be both continental, regional and local depending on perspective, as argued above. The polygonal battle-axes can also be considered a continental type, as they occur throughout the wider Funnel Beaker Culture during the Early Neolithic. No purely local traits have been recognised in the design of the battle-axes, neither is the Mälardalen and Bergslagen region distinguished by battle-axes of a specific type. Rather the battle-axes can be considered to be pan-regional, with quite distinct types being common for several neighbouring regions. While the battle-axes may have been produced in local communities of practice, the stone smiths in different, geographically dispersed communities shared several norms dictating how battle-axes should be designed; traditions that were reproduced beyond the local communities on a pan-regional scale.
There is only one known grave find where a polygonal battle-axe can be associated with a skeleton determined as to sex, the male grave from Dragsholm, Denmark. If one consider previous and subsequent periods the pattern is the same, battle-axes tend to appear in male graves. For the sake of argument I will assume that it was men that produced these axes as well. The scenario explaining the local traits in pottery craft discussed above suggested that communities of female potters of the same descent group were kept intact by a matrilocal rule of postmarital residence. In consequence, the adult males at the same settlements ought to be married spouses from different homesteads and villages within and beyond the region of Mälardalen and Bergslagen, where as all males born at the same settlement left it upon marriage to move in with the woman's family. As long as these moves upon marriage were kept within the wider region of Central Sweden and Southern Norway, the men from other localities gathered at their new settlements still shared a common tradition of how to design polygonal battle-axes.
It is worth emphasising that these norms and traditions did not exist prior to the advent of the Early Neolithic, rather they were created, negotiated and reproduced within and beyond local communities of practice connected by long-distance networks. For the group of men with different geographical origins, the design of the battle-axes may have served as a reification of a social identity that included both the place and region of birth, and the place and region where these men came to reside after marriage; a sense of belonging embodied in the production of polygonal battle-axes.
The designs of the Swedish-Norwegian polygonal battle-axes were created and reproduced within a social setting with a wide geographical scope. Still this social milieu was not without limits. To the north of Mälardalen and Bergslagen lived groups who chose not to produce any polygonal battle-axes. In the encounter with hunter-gatherers of Central and Northern Scandinavia, the battle-axes may have been one component in a larger repertoire that signalled the difference of the TRB. Further south, in Denmark and Scania, battle-axes of a different design were produced. In the encounter with people from the Funnel Beaker Culture of Southern Scandinavia, the divergent design of the Swedish-Norwegian battle-axes may have served as a reification of a different kind of Funnel Beaker Culture, of a different identity.