It was you raised the issue of the size of the workforce. I just pointed out that there was an industrial process taking place.
I would have thought that the abundance of Langdale axes found on the east coast implies some degree of management of the production & distribution of the axes.
Why couldn't axes be traded for food? I'll give you 5 axes for a pig. You can then take those axes back to yorkshire and knock them out for a pig a piece. I don't understand your statement
"It could not have been food since a single axe would have provided a years supply of food. I'm very dubious about it being flint, since this is available closer to Cumbria than the east yorkshire coast so what was being traded?"
James Cherry's 1989 fieldwalking study in the Eastern Cumbrian Fells showed that the raw flint in the study area was imported from East Yorkshire ( drop me a line & I'll send you a copy).