This Medieval Mace Head Was Just Discovered In Poland By A 12-Year-Old Boy

Published December 13, 2023

The mace head, discovered by accident in Wilków, Poland, may date as far back as the 12th century.

Medieval Mace Head Poland

Lubelski Wojewódzki Konserwator Zabytków/FacebookThe medieval mace head shows significant signs of wear, and it may have been used as a weapon or a tool.

As debris tumbled onto the driveway of his parents’ home in Wilków, Poland, as part of a construction project, 12-year-old Witold Bołtuć noticed something in the dirt. Suspecting that it could be special, Bołtuć picked it up and brought it to his parents. Indeed, the sharp-eyed 12-year-old had discovered the well-worn head of a medieval mace.

Bołtuć “correctly recognized its historic character,” the Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments exclaimed in a Facebook post. “The boy’s parents immediately reported the discovery to the University of Lublin.”

According to the Facebook post, the mace is about three inches long and was cast in bronze. It shows considerable wear and tear “in the form of damaged and bent lumps,” but researchers aren’t sure how it was used.

“It is hard to assess whether the damage was caused as a result of the fighting, or maybe it was used… as a hammer,” the Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments explained in their post.

Mace Head From Another Angle

Lubelski Wojewódzki Konserwator Zabytków/FacebookThe medieval mace head from another angle. Researchers believe that it was created between the 12th and 14th centuries.

That said, researchers believe that the mace, with its pyramid-shaped knobs, likely originated between the 12th and 14th centuries. Polskie Radio reports that such weapons were popular during that time in Eastern Europe, especially in present-day Ukraine, where mace heads were seen as both combat weapon and symbols of power and prestige.

And though the exact origin of the mace head is difficult to trace, researchers know at least how it got to Wilków. According to the Facebook post, it was scooped up in Kłodnica, about 200 miles away, as a collection of dirt meant to fortify the driveway to the Bołtuć family’s barn.

Intriguingly, its original location was near two medieval settlements: one in Kłodnica, which Polskie Radio reports was occupied around the 11th century, and another in nearby Żmijowiska, which dates back to the same time.

This mace head is both a fascinating specimen of a medieval weapon and an interesting example of maces as a whole. It’s unknown when people first starting uses maces as weapons, but artifacts have been found from as far back as 2900 to 2100 B.C.E.

The mace evolved from clubs, but — given the heavy material like copper, iron, bronze, or steel affixed to the top — were obviously much more effective as a weapon. That was especially true if the mace, like the one found in Poland, had protrusions that could inflict additional damage.

Medieval Mace Head In Wales

The Portable Antiquities Scheme/The Trustees of the British MuseumAn example of another medieval mace, this one found in Wales. Maces were popular in the Middle Ages as a weapon used in close combat, and mace heads with protrusions like this could be especially damaging.

Maces were an especially popular choice of weapon for anyone engaging in close combat during the Middle Ages, to such an extent that armor evolved alongside them. The mace was used so frequently at the end of the Middle Ages that more protective versions of armor were developed.

As such, the mace head found in Poland is part of a large and fascinating legacy of weapons in Europe. Polskie Radio reports that the object will likely make its way to the Nadwiślańskie Museum in Kazimierz Dolny.

It stands, according to the Facebook post, as “another proof of the unique character of this region of Lublin in the early Middle Ages.”

After reading about how a boy in Poland discovered a medieval mace head, see how a nine-year-old girl found a 15-million-year-old megalodon tooth in the Chesapeake Bay. Or, discover the story of the 10-year-old boy in England who stumbled across an 18th-century sword while using his metal detector.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Cara Johnson
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.