14th Century

Tannenburg Gun

The Tannenburg Gun

The Tannenburg Gun

Early medieval ‘Pole gun’

The pole gun is the earliest type of handgun. Basically it is a very small cannon on a stick or pole. These guns came into use in the early 14th century and were still around in the late 15thC. They are loaded with powder and a wad from the muzzle end, and a small amount of powder is placed into a ‘touch hole’ on the rear of the barrel. To fire the gun, a flame or glowing match is placed into the touchhole, driving sparks into the rear of the barrel to ignite the main change and fire the ‘bullet’ out of the end. It can be fired by one person, but ideally by two, one to hold and aim, the other to light the gun.

 This particular gun is a copy of ‘the tannenberg gun’ a surviving piece  in a museum in Nuremburg, which dates from pre-1399.