Iron axe-head inlaid with silver

Merovingian, 7th century AD
From the area of Neuwied, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

A ceremonial or battle axe

The axe, particularly the lighter francisca, or throwing-axe, was a favourite weapon of the Franks, and the francisca took its name from them. The elaborate silver-inlay decoration of this example is a clear mark of the owner’s status or military rank. It is very rare on this type of weapon. Though the decoration does not mean that the axe could not be used in hand-to-hand combat, it may suggest that it had a ceremonial function. The wooden shaft has not survived.

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Iron axe-head inlaid with silver

Axe head facing right

  • Axe head facing left

    Axe head facing left


More information


D.M. Wilson, 'A Frankish axe-head from Germany', The British Museum Quarterly-1, 28 (1964), pp. 30-32, plate 11

S. Marzinzik, Masterpieces: Early medieval a (London, British Museum Press, 2013)


Length: 17.500 cm

Museum number

Britain, Europe and Prehistory


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