Dating musket balls and metal detecting

Musket ball? - Friendly Metal Detecting Forums

dating musket balls and metal detecting

A hoard of 2, lead bullets illegally metal detected at Ballymore, Co. Westmeath. Probably concealed by Jacobites prior to their surrender to. It looks like a musket ball - but I thought maybe someone could ID it for certain. I don't know Is there any way to date a musket ball if it is one?. Their origins date back to the 15th century, when “handgonnes” were first being used. Archaeologists and metal-detecting enthusiasts have discovered Lead is a very dense metal, and a musket ball will feel heavy for its size.

The musket was in fact just one of a range of guns that fired a lead bullet. Different firearms used bullets of different sizes and weight, and often different types of gun were carried by different troop types. For example, in the late 17th century infantry usually carried heavy muskets, while mounted infantry called dragoons wielded carbines, which fired a slightly smaller ball.

Cavalry and officers often employed the much smaller pistol as their firearm. It is often the case that analysis of bullet types can tell us about the range of different soldiers present at a particular site. One of the most important aspects of lead bullet analysis is knowing where the ball has come from.

If the exact findspot of each bullet is not carefully recorded archaeologically, a valuable piece of information is destroyed.

How to Identify Revolutionary War Musket Balls

The location of bullets on a battlefield provides us with a unique plan of how a fight progressed; it can reveal who fought where, what type of soldiers they were, and where the fighting was hardest. Often this information can completely re-write previous interpretations which were based solely on historical accounts. If the lead bullets are removed from their context without proper recording all this information is lost.

dating musket balls and metal detecting

Lead shot recovered from the Battlefield of Aughrim, Co. Galway, and representing an attack on fleeing Jacobite soldiers Above are some lead bullets we analysed for the National Roads Authority on behalf of Galway County Council.

They were fired during the Battle of Aughrim, Co. Galway, inthe bloodiest battle in Irish history.

dating musket balls and metal detecting

Because we knew the exact findspot of each bullet we could see a pattern emerge, suggesting that this was evidence for a rout that we knew took place. This small assemblage is surviving evidence of this desperate attempt to escape the slaughter. The Siege and Battle of Kinsale, The Lord Deputy's Camp is in the centre left of the image Pacata Hibernia, We are also now getting better at recognising when lead bullets have been fired, and sometimes what they have hit.

dating of musketballs? - MDF Metal Detecting

As well as this bullets can provide us with information about how and when they were made. Analysis indicated that these bullets were made on site by these men.

dating musket balls and metal detecting

Look for evidence of a casting sprue made from the inlet channel of the mold. The lead from the channel is usually clipped off using a sprue cutter and leaves a medial ridge on the sprue. Look at the color Examine the ball for a patina.

Authentic musket balls are not shiny gray lead. Musket balls buried underground for years develop a coating of lead carbonates, sulfides and oxides. This coating is usually white or light tan. However, the presence of tannic acid from trees or high levels of iron oxide in the soil can darken the color of an authentic musket ball to a deep reddish-brown.

Biting the Bullet: The Archaeology of ‘Musketballs’

Tip A gray-colored ball with a blistery surface may be authentic, but it was molded from an alloy of lead and pewter or lead and tin. This was a common practice used by the American army during the American Revolutionary War, since lead was in short supply. Measure a round ball If the ball is round, measure its diameter in inches with a set of calipers, but do not take the measurement on the mold seam.

Typically, musket balls range in diameter from 0. The British Brown Bess musket had a 0.

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  • dating musket balls

Charleville-style French muskets, which were supplied to the Continental Army, had a 0. Rifles took smaller balls, measuring less than 0.

dating musket balls and metal detecting