Mace Heads


As recorded by the PAS, mace heads can either be Neolithic perforated stone objects or knopped copper-alloy terminals from wooden staved maces from the medieval period, not to be confused with earlier openwork staff terminals.  Iron medieval examples tend not to be seen by the PAS.

PAS object type to be used


Neolithic mace heads

Mace heads have symmetry and evidence for either surface polishing or chipping, as opposed to PERFORATED OBJECTS where work is mostly restricted to the hole, with the exception of limited surface battering.  The holes on mace heads have straighter sides than those of PERFORATED OBJECTS whose holes are formed from either surface giving them an ‘hourglass’ shape.


Neolithic mace head (LON-8DC9F7)
Neolithic mace head (LON-8DC9F7) (Copyright: Museum of London; CC-BY licence)

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Key references

Leahy 2014

Medieval mace heads

Medieval mace heads are cast in copper alloy, with a hollow centre and usually with pyramidal or half-pyramidal knops in three rows.  Note any damage to the knops as this may demonstrate use in a martial context, especially damage in the middle row (Daubney 2010, 204); traces of a lead infill also imply such a use.  Some mace heads have integral shafts below the knops, often with an iron nail for securing (or remains thereof); others lack the shafts.  Daubney (2010, 201) argues for a possible ecclesiastical function for some copper-alloy mace heads, beyond their general military function.


Daubney (2010, 201) suggests a 13th- to 14th-century date range for mace heads in this country, as allowed by known excavated examples, though they have earlier continental antecedents.


Medieval mace head (DENO-B5929D)
Medieval mace head (DENO-B5929D) (Copyright: Derby Museums Trust; CC-BY licence)

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Key references

Daubney 2010