I was recently asked to provide another University department with further information about one of our finest treasures – the Mace of the Faculty of Art. This mace is one of three Mediaeval maces owned by the University and on display in MUSA.
I was asked if it was true that the mace was given to the University by Bishop Henry Wardlaw, who was founder and Chancellor of the University. Over the years there has been many many mysteries and rumours surrounding our maces and here I provide a brief outline (taken from research carried out by our senior curator, Helen Rawson) of how the University came to acquire this symbol of authority.
There are various references to the mace of the Faculty of Arts in the ‘Acta Facultatis Artium’ (the minute of the Faculty of Arts) and the ‘Acta’ records that on 17 January 1415/16, the Faculty assigned £5 for the purchase of books from Paris and £5 for procuring a mace. On 21 May the the £5 previously allocated for books was diverted to the mace fund. On 6 October 1416, it was decided that Laurence of Lindores, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, would deliver 10 marks to a goldsmith for the making of the head of the mace.
Exactly when, how and from what place the mace of the Faculty of Arts arrived in St Andrews is not known. It was certainly in the city by 9 December 1419, when it was agreed at a meeting of the Faculty that it would be placed in the custody of Laurence of Lindores, as a form of security, until he had received the money he had advanced for its production (which may have been more than the 10 marks previously mentioned). The Faculty attempted to redeem the mace from Laurence in June 1426, but despite repaying the money did not manage to recover it at this time, apparently due to a dispute over accounts! It was still in Laurence’s custody at his death in 1437, and was finally recovered from his executors with legal formalities on the intervention of the Chancellor (Bishop Henry Wardlaw).