Gunpowder - Smoke and Thunder

"The Other Sort of Artillery"
Not all 14th Century artillery was done with leverage or twisted rope - Gunpowder had arrived. This is an illustration from Walter de Milemete's 1326 work De notabilis, sapientis, et prudentius regum. The gun is mounted on a trestle like a great crossbow might be and its ammunition is quite clearly an enormous bolt.
Walter de Milemete's drawing of a cannon, c1326.
Gunpowder - an iron bombard is loaded.  
A Bombard in Action
Here a gun crew loads an iron stave-build cannon under the protection of wooden defenses.
When it is fired this gun's smoke, fire, concussion and deafening noise are pretty awe-inspiring ... even for a modern spectator in no danger.

The iron bombard fires.  
Firing the Bombard
Safely below it's protective roof (seen here covered by fire-resistant animal hides) but with the front protective mantlet or screen briefly swung open, the gun fires a booming shot.
The shock of the gun's recoil is absorbed by the mass of the timber base and the strength of the stout timber beam set into the ground behind it - no wheels or other later refinements here.

The replica Loshult gun barrel fitted to an oak stand.  
The Loshult Gun - A Bronze "Vase Cannon"
The Medieval Centre has another cannon - a careful replica of a vase-shaped bronze cannon (the Loshult gun) found in Sweden.
This photo shows the little cannon (30cm long barrel) on it's massive oak "saw-horse" trestle mount. (compare this to Milemete's drawing at the top of the page)

The replica Loshult gun barrel fitted to an oak stand.  
Test-Firing the Loshult Gun Replica
The replica was used in a series of trials with technical and material assistance from the Danish army on a controlled firing range.
Here the trestle-mounted gun, surrounded by modern instruments and equipment, bucks impressively as it is fired.
Loaded with lethal shot rather than blanks for these tests, the little gun was fired remotely for safety.


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Last Edited: January 2002
© Russell Miners .
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