Trebuchet Balls

Trebuchet Balls

Blame it on the movies, but when I imagined medieval warriors launching projectiles by trebuchet, I never imagined the were launching stone trebuchet balls.  Dead cows, maybe. Or pots of flaming oil but not stone.  That’s why it was such a treat to actually visit the castle locations.  On three of our visits, we found evidence for this medieval practice. Dan Snow gives a sample of the stone trebuchet balls we found at Crac des Chavaliers in this vlog: There were literally piles of them scattered throughout the castle like this: We were also luck enough to spot these stone projectiles sinking into the dirt at Harlech Castle in North Wales.  It looks like it might have been a mix of larger projectiles and then some smaller ones that might have been used in a perrier. On a medieval themed vacation that included a visit to Carcassone, we also made a side trip to visit Montségur, the site of the culminating battle of the Albigensian Crusades against the Cathars, which was a siege spanning eight months from 1243 to 1244. At the small museum in the town, they had this collection of stone trebuchet balls, complete with weight. Our best guess is that they were launched from this plateau just below the castle’s location on the hill top (or Pog as they refer to it). What was fascinating for me, was to learn that even the earliest form cannons shot stone projectiles.  It wasn’t until later than the cannonballs from popular culture were in use....
Dan Snow Demos Medieval Weapon: Battering Ram

Dan Snow Demos Medieval Weapon: Battering Ram

While standing at the top of the high tower at Malbork Castle, we could see a siege tower off in the distance.  We had come here to film one of our Battle Castle episodes but could not believe our good luck when we stumbled onto this medieval weapon. It turned out to be a treasure trove in the form of scale versions of siege engines!  Their builder Bartek Styszyński constructed ten scale models by selling everything he owned to create the exhibition of medieval weapons.  He was a gracious and generous host to us on location and even appeared in the Château Gaillard episode, climbing to the top of the siege tower with Dan Snow to explain the use of the battle bridge. Check out this clip with Dan Snow and the Battering Ram.  We can only imagine the trepidation we would feel if someone showed up at our door with this one!  It must have shaken the walls of the castle as its blows landed. The detail of these models was incredible.  Note the cover over the battering ram itself to protect the attackers from defensive actions from the castle walls. Watch here if you’d like to hear more about the man who inspired Bartek to build his collections of siege...