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Bequeathed, 1955. Purchased by donor in January 1928. Previous owner stated in a letter: 'obtained from a house in Lancaster by the late Sir Noel Paton, later in collection of Mr George Coates at Dumfries'. It was in Lord Londesborough's collecton and was then said to have belonged to King Edward IV. By tradition formerly in the Musee d'Artillerie, Paris (but see Notes).

Physical Description

Narrow axe-blade with trefoil piercing and convex edge; balanced at the rear by a flat hammer head, a fluke at its centre. From the central block four langets extend down alternated faces of the octagonal, upper section of the shaft, the intervening faces are reinforced with brass strips with gothic piercings. Surmounting the head is a stiff spike. A bolt with pyramidal ends passes through short langets from the spike and through the central block of the head. At the lower ends of the brass strips is a pierced rondel hand-guard attached by four l-shaped brackets.

Featured in

Hundred Years War


Dimensions: Overall length: 1778 mm (70 in), length of head (including langets): 851 mm (33.5 in) Weight: 2.92 kg (6lb 7oz)

Inscriptions and Marks

On the spike, stamped twice is a mark, probably a script 'f'.

Bibliographic References

F.W. Fairholt,IMiscellania Graphica 1857 p. 52 (illus. only)

G.F.Laking, 'The Noel Paton Collection of Arms and Armour', Burlington Magazine vol. XVII, 1910 p.157

A V B Norman and G M Wilson, Treasures from the Tower of London, Norwich, 1982, pp. 62-3, Cat No 43 (illus. - head and part of haft) - 'European, about 1500'.

fifteenth century'.


Other similar pollaxes with a fluke emerging from the hammer-head are in Baltimore ex Barny Collection; Liverpool ex Mayer Collection (see C.R.Beard The Joseph Mayer Collection 'Connoisseur' April 1935, pp.201-4 fig. V); Metropolitan Museum of Art New York No. 14.25.288.
[Discussion: TO DO copy or extract first paragraph from Norman and Wilson 1982]; also: CHECK OLD MEDIEVAL GALLERY LABEL TEXT.