Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
An Unusually Rare Limestone Grenade, 15th/16th Century
I almost forgot to introduce this very rare item that has been in my collection since the 1980's. I have not touched it for many years because is stored hidden behind my small Giech Schlänglein or Tarrasbüchse (from Latin terra, meaning earth), re-using a Nuremberg cast bronze haquebut barrel of ca. 1470 struck with the arms of the Counts von Giech. This cute early 16th century 'cannon' comes from Schloss Thurnau near Bayreuth, Franconia/Northern Bavaria, via Sotheby's in 1996.
I discovered it in one of the numerous narrow but lofty 13th-14th century houses forming the Late Medieval city center of Regensburg, Bavaria. After graduating from university in 1982, I rented an apartment in an eight-storeyed 13th century house and soon started exploring both the two-storeyed cellar with its vaulted ceiling arching seven meters high, as well as the three-storeyed roof timbering where many old things were stored.
One day I almost fell when stepping on a thick but rather unsound and friable plank. Beneath it, in the false ceiling there was an amorphic mass of rotten textiles, straw, mummified pidgeons and deadwood, but also a greyish stone ball with something sticking out on its top. Amazed by the weight of the thing, I carefully took out a thumb sized tapering piece that literally had no weight. It contained some dark porous stuff center and uncovered a vertical hole in the ball. At first I thought that I had found a cannon ball but when I took the stone downstairs to my flat I met the elderly couple that owned the house. They told me that I could keep the item. In my apartment, I shined a flashlight into the hole, stuck my forefinger in and when I extracted it it was covered with fine black meal powder. By then I realized that this must be a very old grenade.
A few years later I read about the Thirty Years War clay grenades dug up in Ingolstadt, together with their fuses (see posts # ... and ... ), and acquired two specimens but I have never across another limestone grenade. It is especially notable for retaining its original fuse.
With a weight of 3.1 kilos, it is much heavier than the Ingolstadt clay grenades and, just like them, must have been dropped down on the enemies from a house or a wall.
Please also see my thread
I will also post the huge iron grenade or cannon ball soon that can be seen on the photos.
The sacristy cupboard on the right dates from ca. 1540; the wooden 'feet' have been shortened, and the former top piece with the Gothic crenelation is missing.
Enthroned on top of the cupboard is my highly important four-barrel Landsknecht mace of ca. 1540 that comes from the world famous Samuel and Llewellyn Meyrick collection, in 1830: