Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Caltrops - a Device Built After Nature
They probably have been around in warfare for thousands of years - and their natural pattern, water caltrops, for many millions of years.
They are a device of a principle simple and perfect at the same time: wherever, whenever and how ever they are cast they will always land the way that one spike points upward, to hinder and harm man and animal alike.
The surviving samples posted here are of late medieval to 18th c. date.
The painting details of which are attached is dated 1771, representing a later version of an earlier painting of the 2nd half of the 16th c., and depicting a cruel historic battle of 1444 which took place in Schönenbuchen, Black Forest. The rural population is portrayed dispersing caltrops from wicker baskets.
Most of the instances shown here are barbed. Acually this is a feature rare to find; in the author's experience, only one caltrop in about 500 was additionally barbed. They are not that easy to find in good condition either; most of them seem not to have survived spending hundreds of years of burial - most probably due to their delicate construction.
Caltrops also have gone down in medieval heraldry (instances attached).