A new exhibition, ‘Mediaeval Maces: Power & Ceremony’, opened at the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) last weekend.
The exhibition has opened as part of the University’s 600th anniversary celebrations and features several priceless artefacts from the University’s history.
The exhibition displays the University’s own collection of mediaeval maces alongside some of the finest maces in Europe.
Mediaeval maces were an important display of wealth and authority in the middle ages. The University is unique in possessing three beautifully carved artefacts.
They have been used at graduation ceremonies since they were acquired by the University in the 15th century. Seven other maces from universities across Europe are on show, including those from Heidelburg, Tübingen, Basel and Berlin. Maces on loan from the University of Glasgow and the crozier of Bishop Fox, founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, are also on display.
These maces had important ceremonial functions as symbols of status, wealth and authority. Dr Helen Rawson, co-director of the Museum Collections Unit, explained: “This exciting exhibition will explore the symbolism and iconography of the maces and connections between mediaeval universities, as well as themes of medieval craftsmanship.”
Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the University of St Andrews’ ‘Bull of Foundation’, issued by Pope Benedict XIII on 28 August 1413, a document which is rarely displayed for conservation reasons.
Other artefacts from the University’s early history include an illustrated Book of Hours from 150, mediaeval stained glass from St Mary’s College, and a communal drinking cup used ceremonially at great feasts at St Leonard’s College.
The exhibition will be open until 8 December at MUSA, located on the Scores.