Ancient Engineering
The Atomic Bomb of the Middle Ages
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Video links:

Here's some video I took in the summer of 2000 of the floating arm treb. These are not postage-stamp sized videos, so they may be a bit large for a dial-up connection. All are RealMedia files, optimized for DSL download. You'll need a realmedia player. If you don't have one, get the free one at

WARNING! There may be some (very mild) profanity in some of the scenes.

  • One of the first ever launches with the original floating arm trebuchet. The Projectile is a 5 lb brick, and the CW is 150 lbs.
    Click Here Size: 327k

  • The second launch. This is a 10 lb. load (two bricks tied together) and a 250 lb. CW.
    Click Here Size: 360k

  • Do you wonder what it's like to be shot at by a trebuchet hurling watermelons? Here's your chance to find out.... (Yes, that's watermelon juice splashed on the cameral lens. Close one!)
    Click Here Size: 375k

  • A basic front view of the machine firing a 12 lb projectile.
    Click Here Size: 232k

  • A basic rear view of the machine firing a 12 lb projectile.
    Click Here Size: 229k

  • Close-up of the trigger mechanism during firing.
    Click Here Size: 375k

  • And what it takes to cock this machine.
    Click Here Size: 1.1M

  • The trusty sidekicks.
    Click Here Size: 707k

  • An example of what too much power does to a too light projectile. In this case, a 5 lb bag of flour and about 300 lbs of CW.
    Click Here Size: 257k

  • Ok, let's try a 10 lb bag of flour...
    Click Here Size: 693k

  • A melon shot from the treb.
    Click Here Size: 675k

  • Our talented shotgunners pick off a flying melon.
    Click Here Size: 399k

  • Action of the treb as seen from the side.
    Click Here Size: 419k

  • One of our photographers takes a hit!
    Click Here Size: 1.5M

  • Here's how an 8 lb jug of water likes to land.
    Click Here Size: 422k

Tell your friends!


Interesting Notes

Some Trebuchet History:

From the 13th century writing: "Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi"

In June and July of 1191, Richard the Lionheart (the Duke of Normandy) laid siege to the city of Acre as part of the medieval Crusades.

The Duke concentrated on constructing siege machines and placing trebuchets [petrariae - literally, stone hurler] in suitable places. He arranged for these to shoot continually day and night. He had one excellent one which he called "Bad Neighbor" [Malvoisine]. Its continual bombardment partly destroyed the main city wall and shattered the Cursed Tower. On one side the Templars' trebuchet wreaked impressive devastation, while the Hospitallers trebuchet also never ceased hurling, to the terror of the Turks.

Besides these, there was a trebuchet that had been constructed at general expense, which they called "God's Stone-Thrower". A priest, a man of great probity, always stood next to it preaching and collecting money for its continual repair and for hiring people to gather the stones for its ammunition. This machine at last demolished the wall next to the Cursed Tower for around two perches' Length [11 yards or 10 meters].

The count of Flanders had had a choice trebuchet, which King Richard had after his death, as well as another trebuchet which was not so good. These two constantly bombarded the tower next to a gate which the Turks frequently used, until the tower was half-demolished. Besides these, King Richard had two new ones made with remarkable workmanship and material which would hit the intended target no matter how far off it was. . . . He also had two mangonels [traction trebuchets] prepared. One of these was so swift and violent that its shots reached the inner streets of the city meat market.

King Richard's trebuchets hurled constantly by day and night. It can be firmly stated that one of them killed twelve men with a single stone. That stone was sent for Saladin to see, with messengers who said that the diabolical king of England had brought from Messina, a city he had captured, sea flint and the smoothest stones to punish the Saracens. Nothing could withstand their blows; everything was crushed or reduced to dust.