A team of international researchers led by maritime archaeologist Staffan von Arbin from the University of Gothenburg has found what might be Europe’s oldest shipboard cannon. The cannon was discovered in the sea off the coast of Marstrand in Sweden and dates back to the 14th century. The researchers believe that the cannon is from a shipwreck because it still had parts of a charge in its powder chamber. The researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine that the cannon is from the 14th century, making it one of the oldest artillery pieces found in Europe. The cannon was made using a copper alloy containing lead and small amounts of tin. The researchers believe that the cannon would have cracked and become unusable if used intensively. The analysis also suggests that the copper used in the cannon’s production came from present-day Slovakia, while the lead likely came from England or the border region between Poland and the Czech Republic. The researchers studied the cannon’s 3D scan and conducted a chemical analysis. In the 14th century, Marstrand was an important hub for commercial shipping, but it was also a site of war and conflict. The development of firearms at this time provided tactical advantages in battles at sea, and merchant ships also started arming themselves against pirates with cannon. The researchers now aim to locate and document the ship to which the cannon belonged. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Bohusläns museum and funded by the Delegation for Military History Research and Källvikenstiftelsen. The research team comprised Staffan von Arbin, Kay Douglas Smith, and Tobias B. Skowronek.
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