With Sir Richard Branson intending to build a new hotel on a site near Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, during excavation work archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a very large stone that may have once been used as a catapult ball during the 13th century when a siege occurred in 1296.
As The Scotsman has reported, the carved stone ball is thought to have been fired through what is known as a trebuchet, which is an extremely robust catapult device that Edward I would have had at his disposal when he ordered Edinburgh and Stirling castles to be attacked in the 13th century.
John Lawson, who works as an archaeologist with the city council, has stated that the stone would have been used during the Middle Ages before the advent of cannonballs and gunpowder, both of which would have been popular weapons of choice 200 years later.
"It looks like the type of ball which would have been fired by a trebuchet, one of the most powerful catapults used in the Middle Ages. We always knew this area could shed new light on this era of Edinburgh's history and here we are with the discovery of a medieval weapon. It's a really exciting find."Richard Conolly, an archaeologist from CGMS who has teamed up with the city council, noted that most of the work that heads his way has to do with the more mundane aspects of daily historical life, so the discovery of the large stone catapult ball at Edinburgh Castle has been an astonishing find for everyone. It also demonstrates that not only was the castle attacked by the forces of Edward I, but that the town of Edinburgh itself was almost certainly left worse for wear after the three-day siege.
"Most of our work deals with the remnants of day-to-day life. So it is really exciting for the team to find something that potentially provides a direct link to an historic event and specific date. The siege only lasted three days – we don't often get that kind of precision in our dating. It is also a reminder that it was not just the castle that was involved in the siege – the surrounding town must also have taken a battering."Nick Finnigan, the executive manager at Edinburgh Castle, has also stated that the catapult ball should perhaps come as no surprise as Edinburgh Castle has been attacked more frequently than any other castle in the whole of the United Kingdom, and discoveries of new artifacts around it today bear witness to its violent history of sieges.
The Branson hotel currently being built by Edinburgh Castle, where the catapult ball was discovered, is set to open in 2020.