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Siege Machines & Artillery for Events

Hands on History has a range of full-size working siege and artillery pieces. From our Greek and Roman ballista through to our medieval trebuchet and crossbows to our cannon, mortar and bombard from the age of gunpowder. We are very experienced at shooting these machines in front of an audience in a safe, controlled, but exciting manner. At each demonstration our presenter will explain the history and workings of these machines. We have designed the triggers to be shot remotely so that members of the public can shoot the machines for us.

The Ballista

Invented in Greece at about 350 BC these very deadly weapons shot bolts or large stones at the enemy. Our machine shoots a bolt about 25mm thick and a metre long. We can adjust the range from 200 metres to well over 500 metres.

The Trebuchet

Our trebuchet, although small, is a full size mobile machine designed to keep up with a medieval army on the move. It was not in use in western Europe until the 12th century AD. A powerful counterweight machine that uses a long arm with a sling on the end to throw its missiles at an enemy army or castle. During the summer holidays you can come and watch this machine being used to besiege Bodiam Castle in Sussex.

The Cannon

We have built a copy of a light field cannon that would have been in use from the time of the English Civil War through to the Napoleonic Wars. This is a \'prop\' and is incapable of shooting any missile. However we have a fireworks company, Frontier Fireworks, that makes a charge for us so that the cannon can make an authentic bang and produce large clouds of smoke.

The Mortar

We have built a copy of a small field mortar. These were designed to throw hollow cast iron cannon balls filled with gunpowder into enemy castles. Our mortar is a non-working \'prop\' but again Frontier Fireworks have made us a charge to safely \'shoot\' with this mortar.

The Bodiam Bombard

Hands on History has designed and fired our carefully researched copy of the original gun found in the moat of Bodiam Castle in the 18th century. We were given permission by the Royal Artillery Museum who exhibit this cannon, one of the oldest in Britain, to carry out a detailed examination. In the summer holidays 2012 we fired our replica of this bombard over the moat at Bodiam Castle. The first time for many centuries that the castle has echoed to the sound of this gun!