back to article Full-size Roman siege artillery offered on eBay

Some may doubt the practical value of the typical item offered for sale at famed online megajumblemall eBay. This viewpoint will be either reinforced or shattered to rubble by the news that a full size, potentially serviceable piece of Roman siege artillery has now appeared for auction. The mighty replica war machine in action …


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  1. M

    Damn Goths

    Do you reckon that this would take care of the gaggle of Goths that hang out by the petrol station near me?

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    So I cannot take this in my carry on luggage then?

    Mine's the one with the trebuchet in the pocket

  3. Paul Murphy

    Or why not make your own

    It's pretty straight-forward, and people have been making siege engines (even updating the design of the trebuchet) for all sorts of 'reasons'.

    It all depends on whether you want to chuck a stone or a bolt (arrow) either line-of-sight or balistically.

    Just look for:

    Mangonel or onagar at,

    trebuchet (2000/F2K for modern version) at,

    Ballista - hmm no, obviously an opening in the market there! but you get the idea.

    Anyway, mines the one with the spoke-shave in the pocket.


  4. Ed


    For 42,500 pounds I want the dam thing to fire

  5. Anonymous John

    It's in Kirriemuir Scotland

    Shame. I'd like to see it, but it's quite a long way away.

    Mine's the one with the "Veni Vidi Vice" slogan.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    We've found...

    ...the missing weapon (singular!) of mass destruction... more invading small, third-world countries, just a quick search on eBay...

    Paris...well all those thoughts of launching projectiles...I'll get me coat...damn, need to select more than one icon for that...

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Alex Walsh

    You're nicked

    Do you reckon this will need some sort of firearms license?

  9. Robert St-John
    Thumb Up

    Isnt it always the way

    You shell out a fair amount to get someone to build you one, then one appears on ebay.

    Though mine is bolt firing.

  10. Dapprman


    I wonder if they'd make an arbalest, which works on similar principles, but was man portable. Downside is that it can only fire bolts, not stones, though the flat trajectory range is still meant to be impressive.

    I also wonder if I could get away with using one of these against local foxes (of the four legged kind).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Animal sinews...

    How is it hard to get animal sinews?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Lewis Page on weapons

    I think this is the first time I've seen Lewis Page write about a weapon without saying that it's outdated and overpriced, which is ironic as this one definitely is...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ideal use:

    no more scientology!

  14. mike2R

    Quidquidne latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

  15. c price
    Thumb Down

    Very poor quality

    Who'd pay for something that only fired twice!

    The trebuchet at warwick castle fires twice a day, and has for several years...

    .. and it goes further than some Roman rubbish (what have the Romans ever done for us?)

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Ox sinew

    Scrap the Li-ion technology... I think we need ox sinew to store energy in hybrid vehicles.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they only got 100 yards range they made it wrong.

    As usual soem history nut trys to improve on an anchient design without knowing the full physics behind the original design.

    I recall when they tried to make a modern mongol type bow with modern glues before they realised that the glue was part of the energy storage mechanism.

    Oh well.

  18. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    I remember some of the documentary. Getting hold of sinews is not that difficult. Preparing them for use in a torsion spring was prohibitively labour intensive. Perhaps there was an easy way to do it, but no-one remembers what is was. The 400 paces figure was almost certainly exaggeration. Modern materials can probably store as much energy as sinew.

    The bad news is that once you have your sinew torsion spring, it is much easier to install that a modern one. If you soak the sinew, install it and tighten it up, it will get much tighter as it dries (but wont work in the rain). Modern materials behave consistently when wet and dry, so their is no easy way to set the machine up with the required initial tension.

    If you are going to demolish the neighbours' houses with an ancient siege weapon, I would recommend a trebuchet. They have a much smoother throwing action, so they are less likely to smash themselves to bits. Trebuchets also have no recoil, so you can hit the same spot again and again without having to re-aim after each shot. (In real life, trebuchets could not bring down a castle wall. They were used to scare defenders away so attackers could undernine or advance siege towers. Cannons were used to similar effect and had the advantages of creating a loud bang and a spectacular fireball. Trebuchets were more accurate, had a higher rate of fire and were more powerful for the first few decades after cannons arrived.)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If money is the sinews of war, perhaps they should try US currency--it may be going for less than ox parts soon.

  20. Ishkandar

    @Alex Walsh

    NO !! Despite journalistic inaccuracies, this weapon does not *FIRE* ! You can "pull" (as on the trigger lever) or "shoot" (as in ordering some minion to do so) but not "fire" it !! Therefore, it does not need a FIREarms permit !!

    However, you may need a local authority permit to put in in your garden as it constitutes a "change of the local scenery" !! You will also need a large tent or tarp or else it will be painted in urban camouflage by the local avian lifeforms !!

    I hope this is helpful !!

    @If they only got 100 yards range they made it wrong. - The Mongols used glue boiled out of the hooves of their animals (cattle, sheep or horses). It has the remarkable property of being slightly elastic while remaining fairly rigid !! Being organic in nature, it also binds the horn pieces to the wood without too much differences in thermal expansion coefficients. Otherwise, it would have been a tad embarrassing for the Mongol to try and shoot that bow in summer only to find it falling apart in his hands because he made it in winter (when he's resting from his wars) !!

    BTW, Mongol bows are known to be effective at 400 yards and will drive through plate armour at 200 yards; something the Byzantine cataphracts discovered to their great dismay. The Mongols also went into battle with a string of ponies, irritated the cataphracts with their archery, forced the heavy cataphracts to chase them, jumped from pony to pony to tire out the Byzantines and then slaughtered them when they were helpless. Not fair, but war is war !!

  21. Jason Baziliauskas

    One person's siege weapon is another person's terror weapon...

    And surley anyone buying it would be in breach of the Terrorism Act 2000 section 57.

    57 Possession for terrorist purposes

    (1) A person commits an offence if he possesses an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.

  22. Frumious Bandersnatch


    I'd rather have an atlatl.

  23. Tim

    Is Ox sinew no longer available?

    Since when were oxen protected or extinct?

    People just don't bother anymore do they?

    Mines with one covered in Oxen blood!

  24. Bad Beaver

    @ Johan Hartman

    I say they were just afraid of PI.. PETA.

  25. Schultz
    IT Angle

    IT angle

    USB-version anywhere?

  26. G2

    funny q&a on the eBAY page too ROFL

    quotes from there:

    Q: I have been contemplating a career change of late. Would you be so kind as to advise the current market demand in your region for freelance ballisters? I have no direct experience in siege warfare, though my corporate position has left me quite competent in the areas of windmill tilting, entrenched thinking and provided a deeply seated bunker mentality; traits I should think translate well to a budding siege entrepreneur.

    A: It sounds as though you’re quite well qualified for a position as a full time ballista rooky but unlikely to make the heady ranks of stone loader or pin puller. I hope you’ll understand that we are currently inundated with applications but if you would like to put together a CV we will do our best to look at it. Bear in mind that a well scribed document on the best available parchment is likely to work in your favour.


    Q: Hello. I work for a debt recovery company that deals in recovering large properties from defaulting payers. An unfortunate sign of the 'credit crunch' We have one defaulter who says 'I bloody well shouldn't have to pay for my house, I'm the bloody future king, don't you know' Well that shows how far removed from the real world he is. He is now refusing to hand over the front door keys to Windsor castle. Could we hire this device from you to assist in out recovery of the said property ? Thank you

    A: As a resident of Tetbury in Gloucestershire and close neighbours of He Who We Won’t Name, I hope you understand my reluctance to comment.


    Q: If the catapult where to fire again would there be enough room to load a cow?

    A: Does your mother in law know that you have plans for her? If however you are referring to the bovine variety there are some points to consider with regard to ammunition. Firstly the ballista has a fairly narrow launch channel designed to accommodate a stone ball of about 350mm diameter which is launched by a sling behind the it. Clearly a cow would require a much larger ‘slipway’ and of course a sling of equal proportions. In addition, whilst festering cows were a favourite in times of siege to spread disease amongst the enemy I have a feeling that these days there might be certain conventions controlling the use of biological weapons. However adaptation of the ballista to accommodate dysfunctional relatives is a possibility.


    Q: Hi, If it were fully restored, what sort of castles would I be able to lay siege to with it? Is it suitable for Norman stone castles or is it purely for knocking over wooden motte and bailey style structures? Thanks

    A: Clearly this depends on the ammunition you load up, obviously feather pillows are less effective than chunks of stone!

  27. Paul

    RE: eBay rules

    No, there's no blanket ban on weapons on eBay. Guns are out, as are switchblade knives plus a few odd things like leaded canes and nunchucks, but there was no mention of siege weapons. The rules about crossbows are a little unclear, but there are a whole mess of them for sale, so I guess they must be OK.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Goths are easy to take care of

    You can drive them off by placing a Celine Dion CD in your stereo and turning the volume up to 10

  29. Jim

    @Goths are easy to take care of

    You're keen on suicide missions then?

  30. Juliette Martens
    Black Helicopters

    Sed catapulta tua infracta est...

    @ mike2R

    Woops*, in plurimus difficultas es. Eium adeptete, pueri!

    * Hic latinum est

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