Ancient Roman slingshot discovered in Scotland was as deadly as a .44 magnum


Blackleaf
#1
On a fortified hill in Scotland some 1,900 years ago, a Roman army attacked local warriors by hurling lead bullets from slings that had nearly the stopping power of a modern .44 magnum handgun, according to recent experiments.

The assault seems to have been deadly effective, for the local warriors were armed only with swords and other simple weapons, says John Reid, a researcher at the Trimontium Trust and one of the co-directors of the archaeological fieldwork at Burnswark in Dumfries and Galloway. “We’re fairly sure that the natives on top of the hill weren’t allowed to survive.”


Ancient Slingshot Was as Deadly as a .44 Magnum


An excavation in Scotland shows that Roman soldiers used lead ammo with lethal accuracy.

Ruins—and Fierce Weaponry—From Bloody Roman Battle Discovered


By Heather Pringle
PUBLISHED May 24, 2017
National Geographic


Burnswark in southern Scotland is not far from the English border


On a fortified hill in Scotland some 1,900 years ago, a Roman army attacked local warriors by hurling lead bullets from slings that had nearly the stopping power of a modern .44 magnum handgun, according to recent experiments.

The assault seems to have been deadly effective, for the local warriors were armed only with swords and other simple weapons, says John Reid, a researcher at the Trimontium Trust and one of the co-directors of the archaeological fieldwork at Burnswark in Dumfries and Galloway. “We’re fairly sure that the natives on top of the hill weren’t allowed to survive.”

But Burnswark was just the opening salvo in a war against the restive tribes living north of Hadrian’s Wall. Despite their superior weaponry, Roman soldiers seem to have gotten bogged down in Scotland as they fought a tough, resourceful enemy capable of melting away into the hills and marshes. Less than two decades after the Romans attacked Burnswark and occupied part of Scotland’s lowlands, they retreated south to Hadrian’s Wall. “This is beginning to look like Rome’s Afghanistan,” Reid says.


Roman soldiers armed with slings used these lead bullets to mow down foes. A skilled slinger could hit a target smaller than a person from 130 yards away.

Photograph by John Reid


Reid and colleague Andrew Nicholson, an archaeologist at Dumfries and Galloway Council, began studying Burnswark five years ago, hoping to uncover new clues to the events that unfolded at the site, which includes remains of two Roman camps. At the time, Scottish archaeologists were divided in their interpretations of the site. Some thought a Roman army had used Burnswark as an ancient firing range and training camp, while other researchers regarded the hill fort as the scene of a lengthy siege.

To clarify the picture, Reid and Nicholson decided to scour Burnswark for traces of ancient Roman ammunition. American archaeologists had used metal detectors successfully at the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn to locate buried bullets and shells and map the combatants’ movements across the battlefield. So Reid and Nicholson decided to try something similar at Burnswark. As a first step, the researchers learned to calibrate a metal detector so that it could distinguish the lead in an ancient Roman sling bullet from other metal artifacts buried at the site.

Trained metal detectorists then combed Burnswark’s hillsides and summit, producing more than 2,700 hits that Nicholson carefully recorded and mapped. Then the team ground-truthed the findings by digging five small trenches. The excavations revealed more than 400 Roman sling bullets right where the metal detectors indicated, as well as two spherical sandstone missiles known as ballista balls. The results suggested that 94 percent of the metal detector hits were in fact Roman bullets.


Archaeologists discovered two spherical sandstone missiles known as ballista balls that were fired by Roman artillery.

Photograph by John Reid


Impressed, the team began analysing the locations of the metal detector hits to better understand what had happened. They discovered a concentration of lead bullets across the entire 500-yard-long southern rampart of the Scottish hill fort, directly above one of the Roman camps. “This is just what we would expect from a besieging assault,” notes Reid. A second, smaller concentration lay to the north, along what may have been the defenders’ failed escape route.

The Roman slingers would have exacted a heavy toll. Recent experiments conducted in Germany showed that a 50-gram Roman bullet hurled by a trained slinger has only slightly less stopping power than a .44 magnum cartridge fired from a handgun. Other tests revealed that a trained slinger could hit a target smaller than a human being from 130 yards away. “That’s exactly the distance from the front rampart of the south [Roman] camp to the front rampart of the hill fort,” Reid noted.

Terror Tactics



The Romans also employed a previously unknown form of psychological warfare to terrify the Scots and undermine their resistance. While examining the bullets, Reid and Nicholson noticed small holes deliberately made in nearly 10 percent of the ammunition. Puzzled, the team cast replicas, and asked an experienced slinger to test them. The bullets with holes made “a weird banshee-like wail,” says Nicholson. “So you are getting these unworldly, unnatural sounds that you have never heard before, and people are falling over on either side of you.”

Comparative isotopic studies of bullets from Burnswark and from other well-dated sites suggests that the bloody assault took place around A.D.140, early in the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. “He was a new emperor with a need for a military victory somewhere,” says Reid. By striking with exemplary violence at Burnswark, the emperor may have hoped to claim a quick success and subdue difficult tribes along its northern frontier.

Fraser Hunter, an archaeologist at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, calls the new research “really enterprising and exciting.” And he thinks that Burnswark now raises new questions about the problems that the Romans may have created for themselves when they built Hadrian’s Wall and made new enemies among the Scottish tribes. “The Afghanistan parallel is interesting,” Hunter says, “because one of the problems that empires have in dealing with—if you like—warlord societies is that they often stumble in and cause problems that they don’t know they are causing.”

Ancient Slingshot Was as Deadly as a .44 Magnum
Last edited by Blackleaf; May 28th, 2017 at 05:52 AM..
 
Murphy
#2
Nonsense.
 
Curious Cdn
+1
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

Nonsense.

The Romans originally had a slingshot registry but the Visigoths got rid of it.
 
Blackleaf
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

Nonsense.

Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

Bull.

 
Murphy
#5
Piffle.
 
Blackleaf
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

Piffle.

 
Murphy
#7
Garbage.
 
Blackleaf
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

Garbage.

Stupid Girl was quite a good song.
 
Murphy
#9
bunkum.
 
Curious Cdn
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

bunkum.

Hard to imagine that a Roman slingshot round would leave a six inch diameter exit wound.
 
Blackleaf
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

Hard to imagine that a Roman slingshot round would leave a six inch diameter exit wound.

Tribal warriors who faced an opposing Roman army in battle almost 2,000 years ago were stricken down by a hail of bullets as powerful as those in a modern handgun.

That is the finding of research which analysed slingshot ammunition found at an archaeological site last summer.

The stones, which hurtled along at up to 100mph (160km/h), could take the top of your head off with nearly as much force as a .44 Magnum.

German researcher and slingshot enthusiast Jörg Sprave has since analysed their kinetic energy to make the startling discovery.

He believes they would have had the same stopping power as a modern .44 Magnum handgun, which fires bullets at speeds of around 1,475 feet per second (450 metres per second) and imparts 1,160 foot-pound force (1,570 joules) of energy.

Read more: Roman sling bullets had were as deadly as a .44 Magnum | Daily Mail Online
 
Murphy
#12
bullsh!t
 
Curious Cdn
+1
#13
That's a hell of a grassy knoll, up on Burnswark.
 
MHz
#14
I would opt for the hardwood glowing ember as my choice of loads, perhaps even a smoothed river rock. Why does it seem like I've heard that before?
 
mabudon
+2
#15  Top Rated Post
and the men were so manly that they tended their cooking fires with their proud erections
 
Bar Sinister
#16
The sling is a very ancient weapon. Slingers hurling lead projectile existed long before the Romans showed up. The sling had a lot of advantages. It was cheap, anyone could learn to use one, and if you couldn't afford lead bullets, then rocks would do. Also it had a range rivaling that of the bow. During ancient battles the air was usually filled with missiles from slings, a weapon that was especially effective against poorly armoured enemies.
 
JLM
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Bar Sinister View Post

The sling is a very ancient weapon. Slingers hurling lead projectile existed long before the Romans showed up. The sling had a lot of advantages. It was cheap, anyone could learn to use one, and if you couldn't afford lead bullets, then rocks would do. Also it had a range rivaling that of the bow. During ancient battles the air was usually filled with missiles from slings, a weapon that was especially effective against poorly armoured enemies.


It was certainly responsible for Goliath's "Waterloo". And he was a big man!
 
Danbones
+1
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Murphy View Post

bullsh!t

While at times ugly, self description is not a crime


Quote: Originally Posted by JLM View Post

It was certainly responsible for Goliath's "Waterloo". And he was a big man!

try hitting moving midgets