Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

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Stuart Quayle
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Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Stuart Quayle » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:06 pm

I recently viewed the very interesting lecture on "Understanding Castle Rushen", one of our two Viking/Medieval castles on the Isle of Man, and a theory was put forward by the speaker, that the gun emplacements located now at various points around the outer Curtain Wall, could have been established as early as the late 14th century, which I find fascinating.

I see that The Medieval Combat Society have a brilliant online article about the use and development of gunpowder and medieval cannon, here is the link: http://www.themcs.org/weaponry/cannon/cannon.htm

Could I ask other forum members please, what information they have about the earliest use of medieval cannon in castles where they live around the British Isles, or used in battles etc. Any 14th century use?



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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Brother Ranulf » Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:29 am

Not a castle, but Canterbury's late 14th century city wall and drum towers (a rebuild over earlier walls) were built with loops for hand cannons - I have heard that this is the earliest example of such a feature in English towns and cities. The earliest mention of the guns themselves is in 1403/1404, but no doubt some were present before that time when the walls and towers were completed in 1385 -86.

According to Canterbury Archaeological Trust, the Westgate at Canterbury features the "first gun loops in England":

Westgate.jpg


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Stuart Quayle
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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Stuart Quayle » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:08 am

Brother Ranulf thank you, that is brilliant information, exactly what I was looking for :D

Any other 14th century examples anyone, castle wall fortifications, city wall gun defences?

Did the substantial medieval city walls of Southampton convert it's arrow-slits into gun-loops in 1380?

Keen to hear more examples please.



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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Ribauldequin » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:21 pm

If I remember rightly, Bodiam also had early Gun ports. There was still a fear of French coastal raids into the C.15th. But most artillery was in C.14th, based in France, used in sieges, or in defense of castles and towns over there.



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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Stuart Quayle » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:08 pm

Thanks Ribauldequin for the info ref. Bodiam Castle, much appreciated :thumbup:

That makes sense about the use of English artillery pieces mainly being used in France during the Hundred Years War.



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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Mark Griffin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:34 pm

Southampton Town walls are reckoned to be the first to adapt to gunpowder technology. They bore the brunt of French raids in the 1360's and seemed pretty keen to knock some gun loops in pronto.


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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Stuart Quayle » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:31 pm

Thanks Griff. I have been informed by much more knowledgable bods than me, that the medieval city wall defences of Southampton were very well maintained and they had a very well formed plan of strategy for arranging for their defence.

Each group of citizens living in close proximity to their section of the City Wall having a 'Watch and Ward' duty to maintain and guard in rotation their section of the wall. The use of ordinance as you say with the frequent French sea raids seem quite logical.



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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Mark Griffin » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:36 pm

Yes, there's a lot of work done on that. Town walls were generally divided up and guarded by small groups although I confess I know more about Rhodes than the UK in this respect.

When Gods Tower at Southampton was excavated in the late 80's or 90's there was a significant layer of thick rust in the soil, this was attributed to the town armour that had been neglected and have been allowed to simply fall to the floor and rot, the Tower having fallen into neglect and out of use. Yipee!


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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Stuart Quayle » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:05 pm

Thanks Griff, most interesting, especially about the 'Gods Tower' findings.

On a related matter. A certain amount of quite beautifully carved stone cannon balls were excavated or found in the grounds of Castle Rushen, including a massive, stone ball (much bigger than basketball size) for a siege Mortar.

Could you please tell me at what time period stone cannon balls ceased to be made/used for regular cannon and were replaced by cast Iron cannonballs?



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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Mark Griffin » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:51 pm

at a rough guess, once the iron industry had really taken of, so late 16th. Suspect a nautical cove such as Ed Fox will be able to answer with more authority. Certainly stone shot on the Armada wrecks but as you get into the civil war....

That siege mortar ball could have been from a torsion or counterpoise engine of course..


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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Mark Griffin » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:37 am

There are a few stone balls on Armada wrecks according to my source, plus on Elizabethan inventories but by the 1590's they would be a very small % and by the 17th cent so rare as to be almost non existent. Of course loose stones were used in swivel guns and similar pieces for a while after and in extremis stone shot could be used. But 99.9% are iron by the time you get to the early 17th.


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Re: Artillery in UK castles during 14th century.

Postby Stuart Quayle » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:14 pm

Cheers Griff, that has helped pin it down time-wise for me.

BTW took another look at the massive stone sphere in the Gunnery tower on my shift today, the one you didn't rule out being a torsion or counter-poise catapult or trebuchet missile rather than a mortar missile. It's much bigger than I remembered in my mind, it's slightly smaller than an inflated Space-hopper! :o




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