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Old 6th July 2012, 06:56 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default 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).


Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 6th July 2012 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 6th July 2012, 06:58 PM   #2
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More.
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Old 6th July 2012, 07:03 PM   #3
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More details from the painting, some heraldic samples, and engravings.

m
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Old 8th July 2012, 08:07 AM   #4
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Interesting post, I've never heard of water caltrops before. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th July 2012, 01:53 AM   #5
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I AM PRETTY SURE THE CALTROP GOES BACK TO ROMAN TIMES AND IS STILL USED IN THE PRESENT. VIETNAM PUNJI STAKES IN RICE PADDIES AND TALL GRASS.
THERE ARE THE ONE WAY TRAFFIC TREADLES USED IN PARKING LOTS AND GARAGES TO SHREAD TIRES. THE SPIKE STRIPS USED BY THE POLICE AND MILITARY AND A THING REFERRED TO AS THE SQUID DESIGNED TO STOP VEHICLES WITH NON PUNCTURING TIRES AND SUCH. SEARCH SPIKE STRIPS.
THE BARBED AND CONCERTINA WIRE MAY HAVE EVOLVED FROM THE SAME IDEA. WHATEVER THE CASE THE PLANT KINGDOM THOUGHT OF IT FIRST.
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Old 9th July 2012, 08:48 AM   #6
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These are from a Venetian fort in Crete!
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Old 9th July 2012, 10:34 PM   #7
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Looks like the village elders were put to work. All with white beards and no personal weapons of any sort.

Last edited by Dmitry : 10th July 2012 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 9th July 2012, 10:46 PM   #8
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That was my impression too, Dmitry,

Seems the younger ones were all involved in the fight ...

Best,
m
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Old 10th July 2012, 04:58 PM   #9
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Personal details like that underscore the veracity of the subject matter. I love it!
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Old 10th July 2012, 05:41 PM   #10
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Hi,
Attached the arms of the Drummond family complete with caltrops. Malcolm Drummond is credited with successfully using caltrops against the English cavalry at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 hence he was accorded the honour of incorporating them in his armorial.
Regards,
Norman.

P.S. 'Gang Warily' means go carefully, I suppose apt where caltrops are involved.
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Old 10th July 2012, 06:02 PM   #11
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Gang Warily - a witty motto regarding caltrops!

Thanks for the brilliant contribution, Norman!


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