Scientists discover Europe’s oldest cannon in Swedish waters

Credit: Bo Niklasson/Bohusläns museum.

Imagine going for a dive and discovering something amazing on the ocean floor.

That’s what happened in Sweden, where a diver found what might be Europe’s oldest shipboard cannon!

A team of experts, led by Staffan von Arbin from the University of Gothenburg, studied the cannon and learned some fascinating things.

The cannon was found near Marstrand on Sweden’s west coast, at a depth of about 20 meters. What’s even more interesting is that it was still loaded, meaning it was ready to be fired when it sank!

The experts believe this shows it was on a ship prepared for battle and wasn’t just being moved as cargo.

Thanks to special tests on what remained of the charge (the powder and stuff used to fire a cannon), they figured out that it’s likely from the 14th century.

They also took a close look at the metal the cannon was made from. Turns out, it was made from a mix of copper, lead, and a tiny bit of tin.

But here’s the thing: this blend isn’t really the best for making cannons.

In fact, if it had been fired a lot, it probably would have cracked. Staffan von Arbin says this means people back then were still figuring out the best way to make cannons.

It was a bit like learning by doing, with some mistakes along the way.

Where did the materials come from? The copper likely came from what is now Slovakia, and the lead probably came from England or the area between Poland and the Czech Republic. That’s a lot of travel for the parts of an old cannon!

Marstrand, where the cannon was found, was a busy place in the 14th century. Ships coming and going, trading between Western Europe and the Baltic Sea region. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Pirates roamed these waters, and towns near the coast often had to worry about attacks.

That’s one reason why ships, even those just carrying goods, started to have cannons onboard.

This find also tells us that this type of funnel-shaped cannon existed earlier than experts thought. And guess what? The way they packed the gunpowder in the cannon was also more advanced than they thought for that time.

So what’s next? The team wants to find the ship the cannon came from. It’s probably in pieces by now, but they believe they can find some remains if they search the area thoroughly.

This ancient cannon gives us a new look at how people in the past were trying to protect themselves at sea. It also shows us how much they were still learning about making things like cannons.

Even though it might not have been the best cannon ever made, it still tells an exciting story about history, technology, and life hundreds of years ago.

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Source: University of Gothenburg.