Object Title

6.5 in mortar

6.5 in mortar

Date

1400-1499

Object Number

XIX.328

Provenance

Acquired with XIX.327 from Colin Nunn, July 1984.

Physical Description

The gun is constructed in one piece from wrought iron with iron bands shrunk on. It has a long powder chamber with a vent or short 'tiller' of rectangular shape, through which is a forged an iron ring. The barrel is larger than the powder chamber and the calibre is wider than the depth.
At the junction of chamber and barrel, two bars have been hammered on and the ends forged together to make primitive trunnions, leaving a gap between bars and barrel. The left trunnion which is longer is pierced by an iron spike. Behind is one flat iron ring; in front there is another. There are the remains of a third near the muzzle. The surface is uneven and pitted but it is in better condition than XIX.327

Dimensions

Dimensions: Length overall: 29. in. (75 cm), Tiller: 4 in. (10 cm), Powder chamber: (internal) 16 in. (41 cm), Barrel: 6 in. (15 cm),, Width: 18 in. (47 cm), Left trunnion: 6. in. (16.5 cm), Right trunnion: 6 in. (15 cm), Ring: 5.5 in. (13 cm)

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number nvn

Calibre

6.5 in (16.5 cm)

Associations

Places European ?

Notes

Said to have been found with XIX.327 in the River Stour. When first brought in, it had a cannon ball stuck in the barrel which can be seen in the x-rays. It was removed before purchase.

XIX.327 & 328 are virtually identical, except in small details. They pose problems as to their date and origin since they do not resemble any guns in the collection. Before purchase both guns were subjected to detailed tests at Woolwich and Fort Halstead. This showed they were made entirely from wrought iron and the same type of inclusion was found in all parts. The x-rays revealed little structure, suggesting the guns were built up by either rings or coils, and then hammer welded together.

The shape of the trunnions is also unusual. Fully formed trunnions had already emerged on brass guns by the mid 15th century. Other examples of similar construction are:

1. Iron breech found near Harwick, dated in the first half of the 16th century, NMA Edinburgh.
2. Wrought iron gun, beginning of the 15th century, Musee de l'Armee Paris (photographs in Volkar Schmidtechen 'Bombarden, Befesteigungen, Buchsenneisten.' 1977, Dusseldorf, p.78).
3. Wrought iron gun 1/45. The Rotunda Museum of Artillery, whose catalogue describes it as Chinese, captured in 1860 (that above book 'Bombarden etc.,' p.78 describes it as English c.1430). It also has rings.
The calibres of both the guns are larger than the depth, so that the ball struck outside or the windage was quite large.
No satisfactory explanation has been suggested for the spike in the left trunnion, which appears to be an integral part of the gun. The most likely suggestion is it is connection with elevation.
XIX.328 differs in some small details from XIX.327. There is a gap between the trunnion bar and barrel and the iron bands are spaced out instead of being set close together.