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St Salvator's Mace


The University of St Andrews is unique in possessing three medieval maces, all dating from the 15th century. These represent the authority of the University. They are thought to have been present at ceremonies such as graduation since their creation.

The St Salvator’s Mace was commissioned by Bishop Kennedy for his college (St Salvator’s). It was made in Paris by the goldsmith Johne Maiel in 1461 and is of gilded silver. The design of the mace is very complex with a hexagonal head which has windows and a pinnacle roof. The head takes the form of an open shrine, containing a figure of St Salvator, the Holy Saviour, on a globe representing the world. Three angels face the central figure. Below these are three dungeon entrances, each containing a chained wild man with shields representing St Andrews, Bishop Kennedy and St Salvator’s College. The wild men are thought to represent disorder and chaos.

The figures of a king, a bishop and possibly a merchant probably represent the three estates of medieval Scotland. The rod has three knops, consisting of pulpits and balconies. The central knop probably once contained figures, now lost. The lower knop features three preachers with scrolls and figures looking up towards the Saviour in adoration. Six lions flank the mace-head; four more lions appear at the base of the rod.

A pendant once attached to the mace by a chain bears Kennedy’s motto in French: ‘avisses a la fin’ [consider the end]; and in Latin: ‘James Kennedy, the illustrious Bishop of St Andrews and founder of the College of St Salvator, to which he donated me, had me made at Paris in the year of our Lord 1461’.

Around the base of the mace is the inscription: ‘Johne Maiel gouldsmithe and verlete off chamber til ye Lord ye Dalfyne hes made this masse in ye toune of Paris ye zer of our lorde MCCCCLXI’ [1461].

The St Salvator’s Mace can be viewed in Gallery 1 in MUSA along with the other two medieval maces – the Arts Mace (1416) and Canon Law Mace (mid 15th century). The maces are ‘on duty’ on average twice a year for graduation ceremonies.