_Axes and Pikes

Axe Hammer

Approx. Period: 3000 BC
Length: 0.12m Width: 0.06m

The use of stone axes dates back to the earliest times. Flint axes with sharpened edges would have been used for a variety of purposes including hunting and tree felling, but it is likely that special axe or war hammer weapons evolved for use in conflict. Probably some of the weapons would have been used for ceremony and highly prized and examples can be found from early periods throughout Scotland.

An axe head such as this would have required several days to shape with the limited techniques available. The stone selected would be as close as possible to the required shape to minimise work. A hole for mounting a handle is drilled or ground through the hammer and the stone shaped by chipping and grinding. The final finish would be ground and polished by hand and the stone fixed to its handle with sinews or flax.

Bronze Axe

Approx. Period: 2000 BC
Length: 0.15m Width: 0.10m

Copper mixed with tin produces the alloy called bronze and this material can be cast into shapes for many uses. This simple axe design could be cast from a mould of sand or stone. The design is representative of early examples and would be bound to a wood or bone handle with sinews and pitch. Later designs incorporate internal sockets for mounting on the handle and loops or ears to make the lashings more secure.

Bronze offered significant advantages in the construction of weapons and could be cast or beaten into a variety of shapes. This beating also had the advantage of hardening the metal. The blade of an axe such as this could be sharpened to a fine edge but would wear quickly and damage easily. The blade could be reworked several times but eventually the material of the axe would be smelted for re-use in new bronze objects.


Approx. Period: 2000 BC
Length: 1.0m Width: 0.25m

A Halberd can be described as a cutting axe or pike and has many variations throughout history. The orientation of the blade allows the Halberd to be used in a hacking motion. This type of weapon demonstrates the development of weapons aimed primarily at warfare rather than hunting, as the Halberd would be of little use in any activity other than armed conflict..

The bronze blade of the Halberd is cast using similar techniques to bronze sword and dagger blades. Holes in the casting allow the blade to be fixed at 90 deg to the wooden handle with bronze rivets. Additional strength would be provided by adding pitch and sinew bindings.

Squarehead Axe

Approx. Period: 500 AD
Length: 0.90m Width: 0.25m

The Pictish people are surrounded in mystery as there is little tangible evidence of their culture and society. It is clear that they were a warlike race and had developed many skills in metallurgy and ironwork. Weapons were influenced by Roman design but the Picts were never settled by a Roman occupation force.

The Squarehead Axe is a distinctive Pictish design. The iron blade is cast and the cutting blade sharpened and tempered. Skills in metalworking were well respected and the technical requirements of working in iron required considerable experience and smelting furnaces. This axe design and its oak shaft provided a sturdy and effective weapon.

Schiltron Pike

Approx. Period: 1300 AD
Length: 3.50m Width: 0.05m

The Schiltron Pike gets its name from a defensive formation deployed against horse mounted attack. The long and heavy spears are held at increasing angles by three rows of foot soldiers, protected by wooden spikes embedded in the ground in front of the line. It is thought that this tactic was used by William Wallace at the battle of Falkirk 1298.

The Schiltron Pike of the period was a simple sturdy weapon The head is a pointed iron cross head pinned onto the shaft. The shaft is roughly shaped from local wood cut in lengths up to 12 or 15 feet. As deployed in a splayed array around a defensive block formation, the Schiltron would have looked quite formidable to an approaching horseman.

Medieval Axe

Approx. Period: 1100 AD
Length: 1.20m Width: 0.30m

The use of the axe in battle continued for most of the period of plate and chain armour. This armour provided considerable protection against a sword blow or an arrow or spear strike. It also provided some protection against an axe blow but the momentum of the heavy axe head was likely to break through the armour, or at least inflict a crippling wound on the wearer.

The curved axe head is forged from iron with a tempered cutting edge. The head weighs several kilograms and would be capable of striking a fatal blow. The shaft has a strong leather thong fitted to improve the grip and achieve a full swing of the axe. The reverse spike on the head would be used to open up gaps in the opponents armour. The shaft tip also has a spike for thrusting and stabbing.

Long Pike

Approx. Period: 1660 AD
Length: 1.80m Width: 0.35m

The simple pike or spear was popular with Scottish regiments. It was a simple weapon to manufacture and required little skill to use on the battlefield. Most of the Scottish foot soldiers also equipped themselves with a dirk. and the officers and gentry were generally owners of a sword.

This Long Pike from the 17th century is typical of the type of pike commonly available. The features are similar to the Lochaber Axe, though this format is more commonly known as the Irish style "Tuagh". The front cutting blade and the rear spike were used in a cutting action and the top spike used for thrusting and defence.

Lochaber Axe

Approx. Period: 1740 AD
Length: 1.50m Width: 0.20m

The Lochaber Axe was a weapon of the Highland foot soldier, though it is also associated with the town guards of Aberdeen and Edinburgh as a ceremonial weapon. The design evolved over years and the Lochaber association is probably related to the source of the staff. The Scots word for the hook or "cleek" is still in use today.

The design of the Lochaber Axe is a form of halberd. The staff was about six feet long and fitted with a small curved cutting blade about eighteen inches long. The sharp tip of the blade could also be used as a thrusting and stabbing blade. The axe is fitted with an additional spike or hook, used to dismount horsemen or to assist in scaling walls.

_Swords and Daggers

Bronze Dagger

Approx. Period: 2000 BC
Length: 0.30m Width: 0.05m

Daggers developed from simple sticks and sharpened flints into an easily carried weapon and hunting tool. The dagger design is similar to a Halberd with a pointed and tanged blade but could incorporate a location and fixing points for a handle. The use of precious metal fittings such as local Scottish gold would emphasise the status of the owner..

The dagger is constructed from a single blade cast from bronze. Carved wooden handles are attached to either side with bronze rivets. The decoration here would be from a beaten metal such as gold and would indicate a ceremonial dagger or wealthy ownership.

Celtic Sword

Approx. Period: 750 BC
Length: 0.70m Width: 0.05m

A number of areas of Scotland became centres for production of swords in the late Bronze Age. Longer slashing swords became popular among cultures such as the Celts. They could be used on foot or from horseback, and were prestigious weapons. Examples of this type of sword can be found throughout areas of early Celtic settlement.

The sword is constructed from cast bronze with a hammered edge providing a sharp and hardened cutting blade. The leaf shaped blade incorporates a handle plate with rivet holes. Bronze rivets are used to attach a shaped handle of wood or bone. The shape of the blade provides a sharp point for piercing thrusts and a sharp curved edge for slicing at opponents.

Celtic Scabbard

Approx. Period: 200 BC
Length: 0.50m Width: 0.10m

As well as improvements in sword design, better metalworking techniques introduced more ornamental designs to accessories such as sword scabbards. A bronze scabbard provided more protection to the sword blade than leather scabbards. More importantly the ornamentation showed wealth and power.

The bronze scabbard is worked from bronze, beaten into shape around a wooden core. The ornamentation is constructed from a different alloy composition to provide better highlight of the simple celtic shapes and animal designs. A bronze loop is used to attach the scabbard by belt around the waist and the base of the scabbard includes a typical torc shaped ornamentation.

Pictish Sword

Approx. Period: 500 AD
Length: 0.60m Width: 0.10m

Few fragments survive from Pictish weapons but it is possible to prepare reconstructions from Pictish stone inscriptions. Many illustrations show a distinctive curved pommel above the blade. though some artefacts suggest intricate ornamentation and silverwork was also used. The blades are considered to be wide and designed for slashing and stabbing.

The sword blade shown is a cast iron wide blade with ground and sharpened edges. Illustrations indicate that the point may have been rounded rather than worked to a point. The iron blade is cast with an integral tang onto which is fitted a bronze pommel and quillion with an ivory handle.

Pictish Scabbard

Approx. Period: 750 BC
Length: 0.50m Width: 0.08m

The Pictish warrior would probably carry a sword, spear and a small shield, or buckler. Most of the foot soldiers would be barefoot and possibly painted or decorated with symbolic and animal tattoos of tribal significance. There is also evidence that the hierarchy was often wealthy with richly embossed weapons and jewellery.

The scabbard has a wooden frame bound with leather and fitted with a bronze chape at the base. The tooled leather of the scabbard is decorated with symbolic design. The bronze chape is embossed with the depiction of a fish and the curved shape indicates the rounded end of the sword blade.

Roman Sword

Approx. Period: 200 AD
Length: 0.40m Width: 0.08m

The Roman influence in Scotland was limited but the building of Hadrians Wall established a formal occupation in Southern Scotland. Further advances were made to the north and Roman artefacts have been found throughout the country. Items such as Roman Swords were high quality and looted weapons were highly prized.

The Sword carried by the Roman troops was proven over centuries of campaigns and well suited to their style of close quarter fighting. The short two edged blade is waisted with a sharp point. The hilt has bronze fittings and an turned ivory grip.

Viking Sword

Approx. Period: 900 AD
Length: 0.70m Width: 0.05m

Viking swords were generally double edged. Examples can be found throughout the Scottish islands where Viking occupation was widespread. Many of the examples found have been part of boat burials where the owner is buried with his weapons and riches.

The viking sword blade is iron and of heavy construction with a central groove down the centre of the blade. The handle comprises a curved iron quillion with a wooden handle supported by bronze fittings. The bronze pommel represents a typical norse symbol

Viking Scabbard

Approx. Period: 800 AD
Length: 0.60m Width: 0.08m

The Vikings used leather extensively in the manufacture of their clothing and personal effects. Little of this survives but the metal fittings such as buckles, buttons and ferrules give a good indication of how items such as this leather scabbard might have looked.

The main body of the scabbard is constructed from leather around an inner linen binding. The chape and ferrule are of bronze and two stout leather straps are used to support the sword and scabbard from the wearers belt.

13th Cent Sword

Approx. Period: 1250 AD
Length: 1.05m Width: 0.15m

The design of swords evolved through the Dark to Middle ages. As the Celtic and Pictish influences diminished, Scottish weapons makers adopted similar practices to the English and Europeans. Sword blades were made of high quality iron and steel and the sword was widely adopted as the personal weapon of both rich and poor.

This sword from the 13th century shows that quillions were becoming longer, though the hilt is secured with a wheel pommel which had been popular for centuries. The tapered quillion is well balanced as well as elegant and the diamond cross section of the blade provided a better balance. This simple design has a tapered handle wrapped in braided cord.

14th Cent Sword

Approx. Period: 1380 AD
Length: 1.10m Width: 0.15m

The balance of the sword became important as sword skill formed an essential part of the education of Scottish chieftains and gentry. Blades became longer and lighter, with the blade being balanced by an extended hilt with a weighted pommel. A raised fuller was incorporated into the length of the blade to provide additional stiffening.

The quillions of this 14th century sword are extended, curved and have simple ornamentation. Though Sword construction was often undertaken in Scotland, the polished and tapered blade was probably imported from France or Germany. The turned walnut grip has been extended and the weight of the square tapered pommel is used to assist in the balance of the sword.


Approx. Period: 1550 AD
Length: 1.20m Width: 0.15m

The two-handed claymore, or claidheamh da laimh, was popular during the 16th and 17th centuries. These large weapons were impressive but heavy and unwieldy to use in battle. Whilst examples exist which have been used in battle, it is likely that the claymore also developed as a ceremonial weapon used by chieftains.

Illustrated is a double handed Iberia Highland Claymore with a blade of about 1 m length. The drooping quillions, quatrefoils and pommel are typical of the Highland Claymore and are made of steel with a braided grip. This example dates from around the 16th century.


Approx. Period: 1650 AD
Length: 1.20m Width: 0.15m

The broadsword could be used as single, but more usually as double handed weapons, relying on the weight and strength of the blow rather than the agility of the swordsman. Many examples of locally built swords have been found but the higher quality blades are usually of German origin.

The broadsword design has a simple construction of iron with downturned quillions and curved shell covers protecting the hands. The wooden handle is leather bound and the square tapered pommel of iron secures the assembly with a threaded connection to the sword tang.

Basket Sword

Approx. Period: 1745 AD
Length: 1.50m Width: 0.15m

The weapon most generally associated with the Highlanders and Jacobites is the basket-hilted broadsword, also referred to as a claymore or claidheamh mor. The weapon first appeared in the 16th century and the cage basket which provides protection for the hand is a development of the simpler quillioned hilt.

The sword is fitted with a straight double edged blade. Most of the high quality steel blades originated in Germany and being expensive would probably be recycled several times and fitted with new hilts. The configuration of the basket adopts the features found in most surviving examples. The main bars and knuckle guards protect the hand and extending rear and forward guards provide extra protection.

Highland Dirk

Approx. Period: 1745 AD
Length: 0.40m Width: 0.05m

The larger and more expensive arms such as sword and musket would probably be issued to highlanders who were enlisted or conscripted into the army. A self respecting highlander would however carry his own dirk. The dirk performed many functions such as eating, in addition to being used for hand to hand combat.

The blade of the dirk is 20 inches long, single edged and has a fuller on the opposite edge to provide additional stiffness. The hilt and pommel are of solid cast brass with a grip from carved ebony. The tang of the blade is secured by a tang nut.


Celtic Helmet

Approx. Period: 200 BC
Length: 0.35m Width: 0.20m

Along with the development of more efficient weapons came better personal armour. Early head protection came from simple leather helmets. Bronze helmets provided much better protection from sword and spear strokes and the designs developed to include front peaks and side guards to protect the ears and cheeks.

The helmet has a dome of beaten bronze with a bronze peak embossed with a celtic symbol design. Hinged side flaps protect the ears and include ornamentation and inlaid semi-precious stones. The helmet also includes a cast dome ornamentation and is lined with a hessian band to make the wearer more comfortable.

Celtic Shield

Approx. Period: 100 BC
Length: 1.20m Width: 0.60m

Celtic warriors used their shields both as a defensive and an offensive weapon. Examples of 1.0m and up to 1.4m have been found. Shields for warfare were generally of wooden construction but intricately decorated ceremonial bronze and inlaid examples have also been found.

The shield is constructed of oak planks, bound with embossed and painted leather. Lime was also used to produce a light and resilient protection. The long oval shield has a central handle to hold securely and use to give a blow to the opponent. The hand is protected by a bronze boss set into the centre of the shield.


Approx. Period: 600 AD
Length: 0.40m Width: 0.40m

There are few surviving Pictish relics but rare images from the period such as the Sarcophagus found in St Andrews in 1833 and the Book of Kells give an insight into the weapons of the Picts. The H-Shield is a distinctive shape associated with the Picts, though small, handheld shields of round and square shapes are also in evidence.

The H-Shaped shield is light and compact with a central punch grip. The wooden construction is covered with leather and stained with symbolic figures. A bound wooden frame creates the H-Shape. The central boss of beaten iron encloses the grip hole and is raised to protect the hand.

Pictish Buckler

Approx. Period: 750 AD
Length: 0.40m Width: 0.40m

The Pictish warrior fought with a distinctive small shield or buckler. Pictish carvings indicate that these were round, square and H shaped. The buckler is hand held and would be used as an offensive striking weapon in close hand to hand combat.

The buckler is constructed from oak planks covered with embossed leather. A central bronze boss encloses a hand grip mounted at the back of the buckler. The ornamentation depicts animals and the Picts used images of both real and mystical animals.

Pictish Helmet

Approx. Period: 400 AD
Length: 0.30m Width: 0.30m

Knowledge of the personal armour of the Picts comes from fragments found locally. A helmet or bascinet was widely used during this period and the designs were similar across Europe and the Roman Empire. Much of the armour was looted from the Romans and the Britons or copied from contemporary designs.

The helmet is constructed of polished iron. The crown is strengthened by four additional bars and is assembled with bronze rivets. The views of the helmet show a reinforced nose guard, the flaps protecting the ear and cheek, a neck guard to the rear and a strengthening rim above the brow.

Roman Shield

Approx. Period: 200 AD
Length: 0.80m Width: 0.40m

The Roman Shield or Scutum carried by the infantry was rectangular with a curved surface to adapt it to the shape of the upper body. The shield was held on the left arm by means of a handle, and covered the left shoulder. Shields used in parade were intricately decorated but it is unlikely they would have featured in the Scottish campaign.

This Roman Scutum is linen covered and has a large brass boss for hand protection. The core is made of layered wood with protective thick leather outer, and each shield was individually hand painted. The design on the shield would represent the colours of the legion.

Viking Helmet

Approx. Period: 700 AD
Length: 0.25m Width: 0.25m

The myth that Viking helmets were fitted with horns is much debated. They would have adopted similar construction techniques known over northern Europe at the time, including the use of bone and horn strengthening. The styles changed considerably, adding or improving protective features such as the "Spectacle" face guard illustrated here.

The Viking Helmet strength comes from the iron cruciform structure. The sections are filled with stout leather panels, though beaten metal or bone panels were also used. The Spectacle face plate gave protection to the face, nose and eyes and a thick leather flap attached to the rear provided protection to the neck.

Bascinet Helmet

Approx. Period: 1300 AD
Length: 0.25m Width: 0.25m

There was much experimentation with helmet design in Medieval times. The Bascinet helmet developed the armoured cap to enclose the ears and the side of the face. The helmet was enhanced with a chain mail extension called an "aventail" laced into the loops around the lower reinforcement of the helmet.

The Bascinet is formed from sheets of beaten iron with seams at the front and rear. The loops for suspension of the aventail provide support for chain mail covering the neck and shoulders. A padded cap would be worn under the bascinet to make the wearer more comfortable.

Great Helm

Approx. Period: 1400 AD
Length: 0.30m Width: 0.30m

The development of the helmet naturally progressed to the point where the whole head and face were enclosed. This round capped construction is known as the "Great Helm". It is likely that William Wallace and his higher ranking commander would have been wearing such a helmet in battle.

The Great Helm is constructed from shaped sheets of iron riveted into a cylindrical shape. The top is capped and the lower plate covering the mouth is slotted or pierced to allow the wearer to breath. The front of the helmet is reinforced by a brass cruciform across the nose and eye slot. A padded helmet cap would be worn inside and a chain mail aventail attached below to protect the neck, shoulders and upper body.

Steel Cap

Approx. Period: 1650 AD
Length: 0.40m Width: 0.30m

As the use of firearms increased, body armour proved ineffective as a defence. Musket balls easily penetrated mail and plate armour. Heavy armour was also an impediment to the legendary highland charge. One item that was considered essential for the trooper was a steel cap or "steill bonnet".

The Steel Cap shown is constructed of shaped iron plates. The plates are assembled with rivets and a strengthening bead added to the upper seam. The helmet is fastened with a simple leather strap and a padded leather cap is used to make the wearer more comfortable.

Highland Targe

Approx. Period: 1700 AD
Length: 0.40m Width: 0.40m

The Highland Targe was the battle shield popular with highland foot soldiers. It was used as protection against sword blows and spears. The targe could also be used as an offensive weapon when fitted with a central spike. Many different designs can be found with some highly decorative examples from later periods.

The Highland Targe is constructed from oak planks. It is covered with tooled and embossed leather and decorated with brass studs. The central boss is fitted with a removable spike for us in battle. The Targe is held with a wooden hand grip and a leather arm loop for additional security.


Bow and Arrow

Approx. Period: 2000 BC
Length: 1.2m Width: 0.20m

Large numbers of flint and bone arrowheads have been found indicating that the bow and arrow was widely used. The bow is constructed of organic material so fewer examples remain. Samples indicate that the bow would be similar to the design as we understand it today. The bow and arrow could be constructed from any locally available materials but some examples indicate that material such as yew for the bow was imported.

This bow illustrates a single carved bough, bound with leather. The string is made from twisted sinews and strung from notches in the bow ends. The arrowhead is made from flint, bound into a notch in the shaft, and has barbs to prevent withdrawal. The flights are made from bird feathers and are bound to the shaft with fine strands of flax.

Bronze Spear

Approx. Period: 2000 BC
Length: 2.0m Width: 0.05m

The effectiveness of a spear relied not just on the sharpness of the blade but also how securely the spearhead was attached to the throwing shaft. As casting techniques improved it was possible to extend the shaft socket further into the head and also to include features which improved the attachment and security of the head.

This spear has a wide tanged blade cast from bronze and attached to a wooden shaft. A socket is cast into the spearhead and the shaft shaped to fit. Two loops are included in the casting process and sinews of skin are used to bind and secure the spearhead to the shaft.


Approx. Period: 200 AD
Length: 1.60m Width: 0.06m

Spears were one of the main weapons used by Celtic tribes. In addition to spears used as thrusting weapons, lighter javelins were used as a throwing weapon. Instruction in the use of martial arts was often formal. Women have been depicted as the tutors and are thought to have been involved in the conflicts.

The javelin has a one piece cast iron head with sharpened tip and blades. The head is attached to a willow shaft with rivets. The base is fitted with a protective ferrule. This also allowed the spear to be thrown by hand or by the use of a throwing sling.

Gaesum Spear

Approx. Period: 50 BC
Length: 1.80m Width: 0.08m

Spears were widely used by Celtic warriors. A functional weapon could be constructed from sharpened wood but many more sophisticated bronze or iron weapons were used both in warfare and for ceremonial purposes. Larger spears were used for close thrusting fighting and lighter javelins used as a throwing weapon.

The Gaesum Spear has a wide blade and incorporates secondary tangs which were useful in hooking the enemy shields and armour. They also inflicted a more damaging wound. The spear head is constructed from iron with inlaid bronze fish design which would probably indicate ceremonial use. The base of the oak shaft also incorporates an iron spike.

Ettrick Bow

Approx. Period: 1300 AD
Length: 1.5m Width: 0.05m

A substantial number of archers came from the Ettrick Forest near Selkirk in support of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Their weapons were small with a limited range. Though they were deployed in most of the major skirmishes, the bow never achieved the military significance of the English longbow, which was used to devastating effect in later English campaigns in Scotland.

The design of the bow and arrow had moved on little over the centuries from its basic format. The selection of the wood and its tapered curves had improved from experience, and the flint arrowhead tips had been replaced by iron bladed heads. The success of this weapon in the battles of the 14th century depended more on the skill of the archer than the effectiveness of his weapon.


Snaphaunce Pistol

Approx. Period: 1610 AD
Length: 0.40m Width: 0.05m

Scottish firearms developed in distinctive style during the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the influences are described of as Middle Eastern appearance. Pistols were made of steel or brass with silver inlay. The pistol butt came in a variety of shapes such as fish-tails, lemons, hearts and scrolls.

The Snaphaunce Pistol is fitted with a simple firelock mechanism. This would be one of a pair with the lock mechanism of the pair reversed. The construction is of brass and the butts are fitted with a lemon shaped extension. Like all firearms of this period the pistol is muzzle loaded.

Fowling Piece

Approx. Period: 1680 AD
Length: 1.50m Width: 0.05m

Muskets and fowling guns from early Scottish manufacturers had a distinctive design with a large paddle-shaped butt and deeply carved flutes set in the curve of the stock. This design was also known as the "Heron Butt". The guns were usually fitted with large snaphaunce lock mechanisms.

The word 'Snaphaunce' is said to be derived from the Dutch 'Snap-haens' or chicken thief. Another theory is that it refers to the falling cock or hammer being a similar action to a cock pecking. This in German is 'Schnapphann'. With this type of mechanism the flash-pan has to be uncovered by hand before firing. In later flintlock designs the pan is opened automatically by the flint striking the cover.

Doune Pistol

Approx. Period: 1720 AD
Length: 0.30m Width: 0.05m

In the 17th and 18th Century the town of Doune became a centre for the manufacture of high quality firearms. The unique characteristics of a "Doune" pistol included the use of a cast iron stock rather than the more usual wooden or brass stock. This allowed considerable scope for ornamentation with engraving and inlay.

The Doune pistol is recognisable by the curved ends of its metal stock. The firing mechanism, or lock, is of the flintlock or snaphaunce style. The flint attached to the hammer strikes the steel frizzen plate causing sparks. A small quantity of powder placed in the pan ignites and passes through a touch-hole in the barrel to ignite the main charge in the breech behind the bullet.

Firelock Musket

Approx. Period: 1710 AD
Length: 1.50m Width: 0.05m

The flintlock musket comprised three separate items, often made independently. The lock is the firing mechanism, during this period is generally of the firelock variety. It is fitted into the wooden stock which rests against the shoulder and which also supports the barrel. This combination gives rise to the phrase, "lock, stock and barrel".

The stock of the musket is made from carved walnut with a distinctive raised butt. The flintlock assembly is of steel and brass and set in the stock. The steel barrel is supported by the stock and below it is a ramrod used to prime the musket with powder, wadding and shot. The pan of the lock is then primed with fine powder and the hammer cocked in preparation for ignition by the striking flint.

Field Gun

Approx. Period: 1580 AD
Length: 1.40m Width: 0.40m

Largely due to the difficulties of transport over rough terrain, cannon were not extensively used in Scotland. They did contribute to the government victory at Culloden. Cannon built at the Carron works in Falkirk were later to gain a worldwide reputation and were used in many naval battles.

This bronze field gun is typical of a type cast in Edinburgh in the 1500's to 1600's. The gun would have been built to order for a highland laird and installed to protect a castle or stronghold. The bronze barrel is fitted with iron trunnions and is mounted on a rough wooden carriage.

_Support Equipment


Approx. Period: 200 AD
Length: 4.0m Width: 1.80m

The Celts were experienced in breeding and training horses. As well as riding on horseback into battle, war chariots were developed to suit the small sturdy animals bred by the tribes. Charioteers were often professionals employed by chiefs to drive them into battle.

The Celtic Chariot is a simple and light construction providing a platform for the charioteer and a fighting companion to attack and retreat. Two small ponies are harnessed to an axle and framework supporting the fighting platform. The surrounding construction provided a little protection and a secure location to hold onto.


Approx. Period: 200 AD
Length: 5.0m Width: 3.0m

Siege weapons and military machines developed slowly based on designs such as the mangonel or onager. These crude devices used the energy of twisted sinews and ropes to launch rocks and burning projectiles over defended walls. The construction of the mangonel had to withstand severe impacts and would have been extremely difficult to control.

The launching arm of the mangonel is wound back against the torsion of the rope by lever and pulleys. Once restrained, the tray at the end of the beam is loaded with a suitable rock. The catch restraining the launching arm is released and the arm pivots forward to release the missile. Though probably regarded with awe in their own time these weapons would have had limited range and usefulness.


Approx. Period: 1300 AD
Length: 6.0m Width: 4.0m

There is evidence of large siege machines being used in Scotland. The English used some machines to attack Caerlaverock castle in 1300. The Trebuchet with its large counterweight would have been difficult to move but recent reconstructions have shown that these weapons are capable of quite accurate ballistics.

The construction of the Trebuchet would require strong construction to withstand the stresses involved. The arm is wound down on the spindle and the energy stored in the stone or earth filled counterbalance box is used to launch the missile loaded in the sling. As the beam arm swings over, the sling releases the missile. The range and release are adjusted by varying the weight of the missile and the counterbalance.


Approx. Period: 750 AD
Length: 1.60m Width: 0.15m

Battles were either conducted as formal skirmishes between tribes or as raids to acquire goods and livestock. Preparations involved celebration and drinking and during battle war cry and noise were essential. The Carnyx war trumpet is well established, particularly the Deskford example, reconstructions of which have been played and recorded.

The Carnyx is a simple bronze trumpet with a mouthpiece and an extended bellmouth in the representation of an animal head. The noise of the instrument is designed to be load and piercing with the trumpet played over the heads of the warriors to increase the effect. The lower jaw of the animal is jointed and moved to create the effect of a live animal enemy.

Infantry Colour

Approx. Period: 1650 AD
Length: 1.5m Width: 1.5m

Regiments carried a flag or colour to represent their origin or allegiance. Many regiments used the white saltire on blue background and others more symbolic heraldic devices and symbols such as the lion rampant of the king. A number of colours were captured at Preston, Dunbar and Inverkeithing and accurately recorded by a Royalist officer.

This linen colour has the white saltire on blue background. It also incorporates a symbol of the thistle in the centre. Many of these flags included inscriptions such as shown here, "For the Couenant Religone King and Kindomes".

Highland Bagpipes

Approx. Period: 1650 AD
Length: 0.60m Width: 0.40m

Because of their use for leading Highland regiments into battle, Bagpipes were regarded by the British government as a weapon of war. The bagpipes developed in many areas of Europe and Asia and were more widely adopted in the Highlands during the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

The Bagpipes illustrated have two drones, a chanter and a mouth piece. The instruments are carved from hardwood and set with ivory fittings. Later Great Pipes are fitted with an additional extended drone. The bellows from a pig bladder are covered in coarse braided cloth.

Powder Horn

Approx. Period: 1750 AD
Length: 0.20m Width: 0.10m

Before preparing the charge for a pistol or rifle, powder was stored in a small watertight container, or horn. The term comes from the use of animal horn to form the vessel. The shape was convenient for carrying and the pointed tip could be adapted to form a spout for pouring the gunpowder into the paper charge.

The vessel is prepared from a single horn from a cow. The hard shell is softened with water and then beaten and pressed to form a flat sided vessel. The wide end is sealed with a shaped wooden plug and a pouring spout of brass with a wooden plug is fitted to the cut horn tip. Horns of this type often featured highly decorative carvings and embellishments, usually with celtic origins