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The Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society

Artefacts

Mace Head, Holehouse, Canonbie

Period:
Bronze Age
Description:

This triangular mace head hammer has a round slightly off centre shaft hole. The blade has rounded edges with only a small section having been polished.

 

Battle axes, mace heads and axe hammers

 

Battle axes were designed as weapons of war, with a cutting edge at one end, a hammer at the other and a central hourglass shaft hole for hafting. They are associated with the Beaker people and are sometimes found with burial urns. They are relatively uncommon in south west Scotland, perhaps because the high and difficult terrain deterred conflict.

 

Mace heads were designed to give a crushing blow in battle. Most mace heads from this area have a rounded outline with a straight sided shaft hole for hafting. It is possible that the technique of boring shaft holes through stone was learned from the makers of battle axes. They are also often associated with burials.

 

The most numerically important finds, axe hammers were also primarily weapons of war. Many axe hammers have been found close to the town of Dumfries and were often made of locally available stone. As they are rarely found as part of a grave group, they are difficult to date. Axe hammers are often found in river valleys, and it has been suggested that there may be a connection between the distribution of axe hammers and the working of copper ores. Large heavy axe hammers may also have been used as agricultural tools.

 

Producing tools like these took time. After selecting an appropriate rock, a hammer was used to create the rough shape. The Bronze Age stone mason would have continued pecking at the rock, using smaller and finer tools as the work progressed. The shaft hole would have been made by drilling from both sides, perhaps with a section of antler or bone in a bow drill.

 

Many of these implements have a polished surface, which was achieved by rubbing on a wetted stone slab, perhaps using sand as an abrasive.

Materials/Media:
Stone & gritstone
Dimensions:
length: 105 mm width: 65 mm depth: 43 mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:1950.25.2
Digital Number:
RPD0107