Lochaber axe

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Polearms and basket-hilted swords in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. The polearm on the right is a Lochaber axe; the other two are halberds.
Replica of a Lochaber Axe being demonstrated at a battle re-enactment near Inverlochy Castle

The Lochaber axe is a type of halberd that was used almost exclusively in Scotland.

Specifics of the weapon[edit]

The Lochaber axe is first recorded in 1501, as an "old Scottish batale ax of Lochaber fasoun".[1]

The weapon is very similar to the Jedburgh axe, although the crescent blade of the former is larger and heavier than that of the latter.[1] The Lochaber axe took many incarnations, although all of them had a few elements in common. It was a heavy weapon, used by infantry for a defence against cavalry and as a pike against infantry. Like most other polearms of the time, it consisted of two parts: shaft and blade. The shaft was usually some five or six feet (1.5 or 1.8 m) long, and mounted with a blade of about 18 inches (45 cm) in length which usually resembled a bardiche or voulge in design. The blade might be attached in two places and often had a sharp point coming off the top. In addition a hook (or cleek) was attached to the back of the blade. A butt spike was included as a counterweight to the heavy axe head. Langets were incorporated down each side of the shaft to prevent the head from being cut off.[citation needed]


In hand-to-hand combat, the axe, in common with other polearms such as the halberd, has a spike on the end, to be used on close combat in a thrusting motion. The axe on the side, coupled with the long pole, delivered a powerful blow to infantry or dismounted cavalry.[citation needed]

The rear-facing hook of a Lochaber axe is too small to have been used to pull a person. In later examples of the weapon, particularly those used by the city guards of Edinburgh, the hook is almost level with the top of the staff, making them useless as a means to catch a moving object. These hooks, however, may have been used to hang the weapons in the guard room.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Waldman (2005) pp. 195–197.


  • Waldman, J (2005). Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: The Evolution of European Staff Weapons between 1200 and 1650. History of Warfare (series vol. 31). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90 04 14409 9.