Battle axehead

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from Cobinshaw Loch, West Calder, West Lothian

Postcard of Battle axehead.
© National Museums Scotland

Battle axehead

This stone battle axehead was found at Cobinshaw Loch at West Calder in West Lothian. It dates from around 2200 to 2000 BC. Although battle axes could have been used as weapons, like recent Native American clubs, they were principally symbols of power, indicating high status.

The battle axehead has a blade, a narrow, rounded butt, flat upper and lower surfaces and a nearly central shafthole. Its surface is pocked due to the leaching out of soft minerals from the attractive speckled stone. The stone head would have been fixed onto the top of an organic handle by means of its shafthole.

Battle axe use was adopted from the Continent in the centuries before 2000 BC. Battle axes remained a popular status symbol for around 1000 years. Their heads were often made of beautiful and hard-to-work stone, and their shape changed according to fashions over the centuries.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-033-042-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 93
Date: Between 2200 and 2000 BC
Material: Porphyritic stone; haft hole through the flat face; weathered
Dimensions: 4.00" x 1.88"
What: Axe, battle
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, West Calder, Cobinshaw Loch
Description: Battle-axe of weathered porphyritic stone with haft hole through the flat face, from Cobinshaw Loch, West Calder
  • Fenton, M.B. The petrological identification of stone battle axes and axe-hammers from Scotland. In: Clough, T.H.McK. and Cummins, W.A. (eds). Stone Axe Studies. London: Council for British Archaeology (Research Report 67), 1988, pp 92-132. 
  • Roe, F.E.S. The Battle-Axe series in Britain. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 32 (1966), 199-245. 
  • Roe, F.E.S. Typology of stone implements with shaftholes. In: Clough, T.H.McK. and Cummins, W.A. (eds). Stone Axe Studies. London: Council for British Archaeology (Research Report 23), 1979, pp 23-48. 
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