Category Archives: Weapons

Drilling through castle walls with a Terebra

I stumbled across a new type of siege engine that I hadn’t previously known about. Well, when I say it is a “new” type of siege engine I mean new to me. It has been around for centuries. I just never heard of it before. It is called a Terebra.

terebra2

 

 

 

 

I was doing some castle research, reading a book called British Castles – by Charles Ashdown when I ran across the Terebra.

This is all Ashdown said about it:

The Terebra.— A machine based upon the classical terebra was also in use. It consisted of a heavy beam which could be rotated; the iron head being furnished with a spike of square section was inserted in a joint into which it bored its way, breaking up the surrounding stones and facilitating their removal.

So I did some more digging to try to get a better sense of what it was and how it looks. I did find a few pictures. A couple of which I have put here in this blogpost.

terebra

 

 

 

 

This second picture is in German and the literal translation of its name is “Wall driller” which is apt.

It is an interesting siege engine because most engines rely on brute force to simply destroy castle walls whereas the terebra is a bit more elegant in that it drills!

I don’t think they were used very often, if at all. It seems to me you have to get awfully close to a curtain wall or a castle wall to use it. And this leaves you vulnerable to archers for an extended period of time.

But my understanding here is that the point isn’t to drill through the stone of the castle but to drill through the mortar between the stones which seems more feasible. A series of holes drilled in the mortar would weaken the wall making it more vulnerable to brute attacks by other siege engines.

Anyhoo, It is an interesting word and an interesting, relatively unknown, type of siege engine.

About the Book
The book I was reading is called British Castles – By Charles Ashdown  and it is in the public domain. I have it as a free download in ebook and kindle format on my website here:
Free ebooks about Castles

 

Quite Possibly the most remarkable Sword Melee ever put to film

I have watched a lot of medieval movies. I have pretty much seen them all multiple times.  And my favorite part of these movies is the big melee battles. They generally are very good. And I would imagine they are generally very difficult to film.

I just recently saw one that is head and shoulders above the rest. It is from Game of Thrones and it is episode 9 of season 6 (The Battle of the Bastards). And to be blunt I have never seen anything like it. Absolutely remarkable.

The whole battle is simply a masterwork that conveys things in such a remarkable way. And, of special note is the first two minutes of the battle. *minor spoiler alert: This is where Jon Snow first gets thrown into the melee. The confusion, craziness, unpredictability and energy of a battle like this is conveyed in such a remarkable way.

I was astonished by how well done this was.  I have watched the battlescene several times now and it keeps getting richer.

I just have to express kudos to the people that created this. They have done a remarkable job.  The whole episode is just magnificent.

I want to do a deeper analysis of the whole battle, how it progresses, how it unfolds and the tactics that are used but I just don’t want to spoil things for you.

 You can get the whole season or the individual episodes  amazon right here.

 

Link

I received an email from a web visitor who owns a shield and doesn’t know much about it. The front has a wonderful lion motif and the back has the name of the owner with a prefix of “Esq.” which means “Esquire”.

Now that is a wonderful word that you don’t hear much any more. Here in the United States it is a title appended to a Lawyers surname. Which is an interesting use. But it has an older and more romantic meaning.

If you look it up this is what you find:

The historical definition:

a young nobleman who, in training for knighthood, acted as an attendant to a knight.
  • an officer in the service of a king or nobleman.
  • a landed proprietor or country squire.

But the most interesting definition comes from the LateMiddle English and it perfectly explains our shield:

from Old French esquier, from Latin scutarius ‘shield-bearer,’ fromscutum ‘shield’;

Now isn’t that kind of neat?

If you can add some information about this shield check out my webpage here: The Unidentified medieval shield

shield-1

shield-2

 

Cut down to Size

I love idiomsrapier. They often have very wonderful beginnings that we are not aware of.

The idiom “Cut down to size” is exactly one of those idioms.

And it refers to the length of a rapier. Or more accurately a rapier that is too long!

In 16th and 17th century London rapiers were very popular. And men would wear them on the streets. But they got to the point where they were getting too long and they were a danger to passers by and visitors.

So, when entering London, men wielding swords would either have to turn them in or have them “cut down to size”.

 

 

 

 

Walking the Dogs and Finding a polearm!

Well! Got an email from a web visitor. (Chris) who was walking his dogs when he stumbled upon this weapon. It was a long polearm but the pole was broken in half and the other half was rotted. So, it must have been there for quite some time! My guess though is that it was there for a few years, not a few hundred! The cut and shape of it lead me to believe it is relatively modern. But…. if you have some experience with polearms and can shed light on this weapon please message me!!

And this was found in Ireland in the Cork/Waterford area. Nearby is a town called called Youghal.  And people have been speculating that this could be from the Cromwell era because he occupied this town for many years.

Chris will be sending along a better pic of the markings on it.

chris-halberd

chris-halberd2

 

 

 

 

 

poleaxe-1

The case of the mysterious spear

I got an email from a web visitor (Jerry) who found a very unusual weapon. It appears to be some kind of spear. Anyhoo, he asked me to identify it but I can’t! I have no clue as to what it really is. So, I figured I would post a couple of pics here and maybe somebody out there in the interweb can shed some light on this weapon. So, if you recognize this thing send me an email!

And if you want to see more pictures of this you can check it out on my website here: The case of the mysterious spear

He tells us a little bit about it:

Sometime over the past 40 years of antique collecting my dad came across this and we can’t seem to figure out what it is. Any idea?  About 6′ tall when 3 pieces are connected.  One end has basically a sword and the other is heavy blunt piece. Not machined and shows signs of age.  The middle is wood and the edged detach.

Addendum to this post. I got an email from a web visitor (Noah). He tells us that this is a Samburu Hunting Spear that has been modified for combat. My thanks go to him for this! If you have anything to add please send me an email.

mysterious-spear-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mysterious-spear-2