Maceheads of stone

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From Fife Shetland, Orkney Aberdeenshire Moray and Sutherland

Postcard of Maceheads of stone.
© National Museums Scotland

Maceheads of stone

A mace was a ceremonial weapon. These six stone maceheads were found in Fife, in Shetland, at Egilsay on Orkney, at Old Deer in Aberdeenshire, at Urquhart in Moray and at Airdens in Sutherland. They were prestige items, used to display status.

The first two maceheads are of the 'cushion type', the next two of the 'pestle type' and the last two, the smallest in the group, of the 'Maesmawr type'. They are all polished and finished with care. All were originally mounted on handles.

Maceheads could have been used as weapons, but their chief role was as symbols of power. They took time and skill to make. This is particularly true of the 'Maesmawr' flint maceheads, since flint is especially hard to perforate and to decorate.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-033-046-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.AH 186
Date: Between 3100 and 1700 BC
Material: Granite, grey
Hornstone; lozenge-shaped spaces incuse; on sides straight lines irregular
Serpentine, mottled; blunted edges at right angles to haft hole; polished
Serpentine; haft hole at right angles to the cutting ends; polished
Stone, white; hard; finely polished; ornamented with lozenge-shaped patterns
Dimensions: 2.44" L x 1.75" W
3.00" x 2.00"
3.25" x 2.25"
3.94" x 1.38"
4.75" x 2.38" x 2.13"
5.56" x 1.69"
What: Mace head
Mace head
Mace head
Mace head
Mace head
Mace head
Who: Clerk Collection
Where: Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Old Deer
Scotland, Fife
Scotland, Moray, Urquhart, Kenny's Cairn
Scotland, Orkney, Egilsay
Scotland, Shetland
Scotland, Sutherland, Airdens
Description: Mace head of finely polished hard white stone, Maesmawr type, ornamented with lozenge-shaped patterns, found near Kenny's Cairn, Urquhart, Moray
Mace head of polished serpentine, cushion type, from a barrow on Shetland
Mace head of grey granite, Orkney pestle type, from Old Deer, Aberdeenshire
Mace head of polished mottled serpentine, cushion type, from Fife
Neolithic flint mace head, Maesmawr type, with lozenge-shaped spaces incuse, from Airdens, Sutherland
Stone mace head, Thames pestle type, from Egilsay, Orkney
  • Clarke, D.V., Cowie, T.G., & Foxon, Andrew (eds). Symbols of power at the time of Stonehenge. Edinburgh: National Museums of Antiquities of Scotland, 1985, pp 256-7. 
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