Object Title

Axe - Socket axe

Axe - Socket axe



Object Number



Old tower stock! Charles ffoulkes as Curator of the Tower Armouries (from 1935 re-titled Master of the Armouries) published a catalogue of the collection in 1916 and in Vol II, p.438 of The Inventory and survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London he notes that in 1688 four ‘ hedding’ axes were recorded at the Tower valued £0.5.0. By 1691 there was only one at the same valuation. The first illustration showing a heading axe in the Tower collection in Hamilton’s engraving Various weapons and implements of war which have been employed against the English by different Enemies now deposited at the Tower of London (Skinner’s History of London, 1795). XV.1 received an inventory number under Hewitt’s initial classification of the collections in 1859 (Class 18. 23), and was assigned its current number by ffoulkes in 1914.

Physical Description

The long head broadens towards the convex cutting edge from the long, oval-section socket; the upper edge straight, the lower concave. The blade, stamped on the right with two makers marks, is set on the socket at an angle. Apart from the bright sharpened edge the head is black and rough from the forge. The helve is modern.





Cutting edgeLength10.25 in
OverallLength16.5 in

Inscriptions and Marks

Maker's Mark
As yet unidentified
on blade


Places England

Bibliographic References

Royal Armouries (Leeds), Torture and Punishment [3rd edn], Leeds, 1997, p. 24, upper right illus. (col., det. of head), lower illus. (col., whole whole with XV.3).

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Tower of London [souvenir guide], Royal Armouries, Leeds, 2000, p. 23 (col. illus. with XV.3).

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Museum, [souvenir guide], Royal Armouries, Leeds, 2000, p. 2 (col. illus. with XV.3).


This is probably the axe described in the 1857 Remain as:
'Axe Beheading, supposed to have been used in the decapitation of the Earl of Essex in the Tower in the reign of Queen Elizabeth - 1.
Handle for Do - 1 '

At that time it was displayed in Queen Elizabeth's Armoury.