Cannon to Carronade: Weapons at Sea

From now until 2nd March you can catch Wessex Archaeology’s ‘Nets, Wrecks & Artefacts!’ exhibition in our Hearne Gallery. The exhibition explores the impact that the Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries has had on maritime archaeology in Sussex.

Carronade 2

In this exhibition lies a very old, very heavy ‘carronade’ on loan to Wessex Archaeology from La Poissonnerie. Dated to around 1800, this small sized cannon was found off the coast of West Sussex by fishermen. It is made of cast iron but would have still been lighter than many previous designs of cannons. Its size also means that it was able to fire short range ammunition from onboard Naval ships.

The company that made this carronade was called the Carron Company. They were based in Falkirk in Scotland. Founded in 1759, the Carron Company manufactured iron products, and were awarded a Royal Charter in 1773 but their contract to supply the Royal Navy with cannons was cancelled in the same year. It was the creation of the carronade in 1778 that secured Carronadetheir future supplying the Navy.

This was an incredibly destructive weapon, designed to cause huge amounts of damage to enemy ships. A much larger version of this carronade fired the first shot at the Battle of Trafalgar, which gives us a good idea of the status of this type of weaponry.   

This carronade is a great example of how the Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries is helping us to discover more about the history of our seas and coastlines. You can find out more about this, and many other objects, in the exhibition.