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Early European Guns Project


The Early European Guns (EEG) project represents a first stage of investigation into the technology, ballistic capabilities and forensic signatures of early firepower.  In documenting, measuring, and recording small bore gunpowder artillery and handguns preserved in collections across Europe, EEG opens new windows on the formative stage of gunpowder weaponry in Europe from c1450-1520. EEG also forms part of a wider programme of research into the Origins of Firepower being developed at the University of Huddersfield, leading out of the results of the Bosworth battlefield survey. The project has been developed by Glenn Foard and Steven A. Walton with the initial research, in 2010-12, funded by a small grant from the British Academy.

Early European guns

Analysis underway on the collection of field artillery in the town museum at La Neuveville, Switzerland.

Our focus has been on 15th and early 16th century guns of types most likely to have been used on the battlefield. These include handguns and especially small artillery, that is guns with a bore diameter of below 100mm. They include muzzle- and breech-loading guns and the chambers for them. Early projectiles of similar calibres have also been recorded, including those made of lead, lead–iron and lead–stone composite, wrought iron, cast iron and stone. Where larger early guns have been seen a brief note has also been made of these where this was practicable.

The principal objective is to provide evidence on the internal and external length and diameter of the barrel, together with information on the construction of the barrel and a detailed character of the interior of the bore. These data will enable the interpretation of the calibres and firing signatures seen on lead and lead composite round shot recovered from late 15th century battlefields, such as Bosworth (Leicestershire, England, 1485) and Barnet (Hertfordshire, England, 1471). The data will also be relevant to the study of 16thcentury battlefields such as Pinkie (East Lothian, Scotland, 1547).

Measuring the profiles of a hand
cannon in the Musée Royal de l'Armée
in Brussels, Belgium

It is our objective that the EEG database will continue to expand in collaboration with colleagues around the world, so that it may form a resource for the wider study of early guns.

An article analysing the data collected to date is in preparation. An interim presentation of results was given at a Royal Armouries conference in Leeds in 2011. It is intended that papers on some aspects of the research will be given in July 2013 at the International Medieval Congress.

The EEG Database, which is currently being populated with data from the 2010-12 research, is accessible here.

* The database webpages are currently compatible with Firefox, Safari and chrome.

* The database is currently being populated and so some records will have incomplete data – lacking images or sketch drawings for example – and may have incomplete text or even rough notes in some cases.

Last updated Friday 12 October 2012
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