Lead Shot of the English Civil War:
A Radical Study
D.F. Harding

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Lead Shot of the English Civil War: A Radical Study

In a Northamptonshire deer park during the English Civil War a body of light cavalry carried out advanced target practice to prepare for battle. They left behind more than 1,800 lead shot to be found by archaeologists 360 years later, and which transform our view of 1640s smallarms fire and training.

The troopers were using not just a single round ball or some buck-shot as hitherto assumed, they also loaded buck-shot on top of a ball or loaded two and even three full-sized balls together, to increase the chances of a hit. Even more remarkably they used several forms of elongated shot to penetrate the enemy's armour or deliver a knockdown blow to him or his horse — 200 years earlier than we thought elongated shot came into use. Not least, there is evidence that the men were being trained to use all kinds of ordinary and sophisticated loads on the move in tactical scenarios.

This pioneering book enables archaeologists to 'read' the marks on lead shot, showing how to distinguish between damage caused by loading, by compression and gas escape in the breech on firing, by impact, and by agriculture while in the ground. It also greatly advances understanding of the internal and external ballistics of muzzle-loading and early breech-loading smallarms.

Only through this radical study can archaeologists, firearm specialists and military historians understand smallarms fire and lead shot of the pre-1850 era.

Softback only; 220 large-format pages (210 x 297mm, 8.3 x 11.7in), 100,000 words, 101 photos, 22 line drawings, 14 bar charts, 514 source notes.


A radical new look at excavated lead shot, based on intensive study of 1,800 spherical and elongated projectiles from a target practice site.

Chapter 1: The Site.

Easton Maudit Park; training conducted there; factors in the scatter of shot in battle and at target practice.

Chapter 2: The shot data.

The database; descriptive terms; calibre/gauge; smallarm categories; shapes of projectile; assessing ball and bore size.

Chapter 3: Loading procedures.

Ammunition accessories; loading a ball naked, with wadding or in a paper cartridge.

Chapter 4: Reading the marks on lead shot.

Manufacturing features; loading damage; set-up and gas erosion in the breech; impact damage and targetry; damage while in the ground; chewed shot; cannon hail-shot.

Chapter 5: Multi-ball loads of full calibre.

Two- and three-ball loads; resulting end- and middle-balls.

Chapter 6: Elongated forms of shot.

Plugs; 'bobbin shot'; 'dumb-bell shot'; stability in flight; penetration of armour.

Chapter 7: Firers, tactics and armour.

Who were the firers?; tactical use of multi-ball loads and elongated shot; armour in the Civil Wars.

Chapter 8: Conclusions.

New lessons on lead shot; the firers and their training.


Including: ball moulds; similar unusual shot from other sites; known 17th C shot types not found at Easton Maudit; experimental firing with black powder; bore and bore size tables.