Whistling Sling Bullets #1

This Collegium is devoted to discussion, research and the contribution to the Roman Republic of Articles, pictures, drawings, military reenactment, questions, comments and all other material relating to the purpose of the Militarium (Ancient Roman Military). Collegium Website: http://militarium.romanrepublic.org/ | Join at: http://romanrepublic.org/civitas/joint_ ... itarium/41

Moderators: Publius Iunius Brutus, Lucius Aurelius Curio, Marca Marcia, Gaius Flavius Aetius, Paullus Aemilius Gallus, Aula Flavia Philippa

Whistling Sling Bullets #1

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:00 pm

>>>> Whistling Sling Bullets #1 <<<<

Apparently, over 1800 yars in the past, the Romans had a “terror” weapon, at hand, against their enemies. We have already discussed the threat that slingers and their weapons dealt to an advancing or retreating enemy with missiles fired at them from the slingers, and the accuracy and rapid fire that coud be attained with the sling and it’s missiles by those who were experts with such a weapon. It now appears that in addition to the other aspects of the sling, we can add a ‘terror weapon” in the guise of a small bullet drilled through. A handful of these fired from a single sling raised a sharp whistle as the missiles flew to their target, announcing the incoming of these missiles traveling at very high speeds with the ability to cause all kinds of wounds and death on the receiving troops.

The special cast lead bullets found at a battle site in Scotland (>>1) by investigating archaeologists revealed a missile that weighed approximentally one ounce (30 grams) and had a hole drilled through the bullet. The hole measured 0.2-inch (5 millimeters) and the experts believe that this hole was designed to provide a sharp whistling or buzzing sound as the missile was fired at the enemy.

History tells us that there was a massive Roman attack against the local natives at a hilltop fort held against the Roman Army during sometime in the Second Century AD. The battle is known today as Burnswark Hill and it is located in southwestern Scotland.

Similar examples of the missiles have been made and fired, and the noise made by the missile passing through the air on its flight, does make a noise similar to that described. Since these missiles are fairly small, a number of them could be fired a signinificant distance with a “staff sling.” The knowledge of what these bullets could do to the local British warriors who wore mostly leather armor, and hide shields, if they had any armor or shields at all, must have been significant and therefore these sounds must have at the very least raised the hackles of the most experienced British man-of-war!

Supporting these views is archaeologist John Reid of the Trimontium Trust, a Scottish historical society which is in the throes of undertaking a major archaeological dig at the Burnswark Hill area. It has been some fifty years since any attention has been paid to this site in any way. John Reid says, “You don’t just have these silent but deadly bullets flying over; you’ve got a sound effect coming off of them that would keep the defender’s heads down. Every army likes an edge over its opponets, so this was an ingenius edge on the permutation of sling bullets.” These comments were made to a reporter from the Live Science magazine.

The whistling bullets also had the advantage of being smaller in design, than the ordinary sling bullet. This would, according to the researcher’s idea that several of the special small missles may well have been used at the same time, since this could easily have been done by a slinger.

“You can easly shoot them in groups of three or four, so you get a scattergun effect,” said Reid, “and we think they are for close-quarter skirmishing, and for getting quite close to the enemy. Sling bullets and stones are a common find at Roman army battle sites in Europe. The largest are typically shaped like lemons and weigh up to 2 ounces (60 grams).” Smaller bullets shaped like acorns -- a symbol of Roman luck or good fortune -- have been found both in other Scottish battle sites of this kind, as well as at Burnswark Hill.

>>1. Some of the Roman sling bullets found at the Burnswark Hill Battle Site in Scotland were drilled with a hole which makes them whistle in flight. (Credit: John Reid/Trimontium Trust.)

Respectfully Submitted;
Marcus Audens
Marcus Minucius Audens

Return to Collegium Militarium