SOM-9ECAA5: Post-medieval toy cannon with carriage

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Unique ID: SOM-9ECAA5

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

Copper alloy toy cannon of probable 18th-century date cast in one piece, with part of the gun carriage attached.

The cascabel at the breech (closed end) of the cannon is almost flat, just slightly convex with a button projecting from it; the button has a long circular sectioned stalk ending in a slightly flattened sub-spherical head. Adjacent to the cascabel is a pronounced raised base ring. Its vent hole is small, circular, (probably drilled) and near the cannon's breech; there is no vent ring. The second reinforce, a raised ring, is placed 18.9mm from the cannon's muzzle. From this ring project two short circular sectioned trunnions. These have flat ends and still go through the carriage's frame, attaching the two elements together. The total width of the cannon across the trunnions is 16.4mm. Between the base and first reinforce ring the muzzle tapers from 9.6 to 8.5mm in diameter. The chase (remainder of the barrel) continues to taper gradually to 7.0mm at its end (the muzzle). The muzzle is irregular, broken and corroded and is probably missing a thickened, flared muzzle moulding and possible a muzzle ring. The cannon is 61.32mm long in total.

The field carriage is complete except one wheel and made of two thick pieces of copper alloy. One piece is moulded to form the cannon's harness with flat sub-rectangular sides flanking the cannon's barrel from the breech to just beyond the trunnions. They are slightly curved in profile. These sides are linked together by a flat rectangular cross bar attached to their lower edges at the breech end. The trunnions are threaded through circular holes on the sides; these show some wear from use. The second piece of the carriage is a thicker rectangular cross bar forming the axle, it is attached to the lower edges of the sides, below the trunnions, just short of the muzzle ends of the sides. The axle is stepped in from both sides at each end to form narrower projecting terminals. One terminal is complete with a rounded end and a vertical hole pierced through it near the end, filled with iron corrosion. The other has broken across a similar hole. The carriage is 42.2mm long, 46.4mm wide and 11.7mm tall.

One wheel remains attached to the carriage. It is threaded on to the complete terminal of the axle through a hole in its centre. The iron remains in the hole through the bar presumably once formed a pin to hold the wheel on, although now nothing stops it from sliding off the bar. The wheel has a central circular hole, the rim of which is thickened on both sides. The remainder of the wheel is flat with the edges broken and corroded all the way around the rim giving it an irregular shape. The wheel is now a maximum of 20mm in diameter and 5.3mm thick.

The cannon rests on its trunnions and the cross bar of the main frame at the base of the carriage; this allow the cannon's vertical trajectory to be altered although this could only lower the cannon's trajectory and therefore range. When the wheel was complete and the other wheel in place the basic angle of the barrel would have been higher.

Forsyth and Egan (2005, 80-81) discuss toy cannons and suggest those that actually fired were very popular by the end of the 16th century but the majority show features that were developed in the 17th or 18th centuries. This example is most similar to their Type 9 Design 1 (p. 84., 1.13) although their example lacks the prominent button of this example. They suggest this type is from the first half of the 18th century. While the cannons are relatively common the carriages are rare, possibly because detached from the cannon they are hard to identify. Only one other carriage has been recorded on the PAS, SOM-D20D91, and one is published by Forsyth and Egan (2005, 85). They are of a different form to this example, particularly at the breech end and with a different style of wheel, although details of the axle, for example, are similar.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Include in PostMedArch

Class: Cannon

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1675
Date to: Circa AD 1800

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 61.31 mm
Width: 46.4 mm
Thickness: 19.8 mm
Weight: 37.01 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Edward Caswell
Identified by: Mr Edward Caswell
Secondary identifier: Ms Laura Burnett

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC receipt 22422

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Somerset (County)
District: Taunton Deane (District)
To be known as: Bishop's Hull

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Forsyth, H. and Egan, G. 2005 Toys, Trifles and Trinkets: Base Metal Miniatures from London 1200 to 1800 London Unicorn Press Ltd 80-84 1.10, 1.13

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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