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World-famous weapon of war to be rebuilt at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle has announced it is going to rebuild its world-famous trebuchet one month after putting the current one up for sale which has not been working.

In October the castle’s trebuchet much-loved replica of medieval weaponry was placed on Facebook Marketplace with a £100,000 price tag.

The full-scale model was built in 2005, based on designs from the 13th and 14th centuries. It is nicknamed Ursa, which is Latin for bear, after Warwickshire’s famous bear and ragged staff emblem.

The current trebuchet which has not been working in recent years at Warwick Castle. Photo Peter Blanchflower. (60850456)
The current trebuchet which has not been working in recent years at Warwick Castle. Photo Peter Blanchflower. (60850456)

For more than a decade it wowed visitors to Warwick Castle, who would watch specially trained trebuchet masters launch projectiles into the air, however in recent years it has been out of action.

It was constructed with the support of Dr Peter Vemming from The Medieval Centre in Nykobing, Denmark, and the Wiltshire Oak company. It is currently being removed and dismantled, with the existing metal work being reused in the new machine.

To ensure the replacement trebuchet remains historically authentic, Warwick Castle has appointed Carpenter Oak to undertake the rebuild. Carpenter Oak not only built the current castle trebuchet but is experienced in recreating historical siege weapons, including a Roman ballista and Leonardo Di Vinci’s crossbow.

Work on the replacement includes sourcing specialist wood (oak and ash) from France and will see the carving of the wooden structure’s parts at Carpenter Oak’s specialist workshop, before being moved to the Castle’s River Island where on-site construction is expected to take 10 weeks.

It is hoped the new trebuchet will be launched to the public in a brand-new live show at the castle in spring 2023.

Liam Bartlett, operations director at Warwick Castle, said: “For many years the trebuchet has been one of our most popular attractions and families would flock to see this exciting piece of authentic history in action. However, years of launching heavy projectiles hundreds of metres took its toll and the wear and tear got to the point where it was no longer safe to operate.

“We are delighted to be able to make this substantial investment to replace it and once again showcase this masterful piece of machinery. I can’t wait to see it unleashed again with a brand new show and I know our many visitors will feel the same.”

The new trebuchet, which will be made to the same specifications as the old one, will be 18 metres tall, made from over 300 pieces of oak and weigh 22 tonnes. All the wood used is oak, except for the arm which is made from ash. The machine is capable of launching projectiles up to 250m.

Trebuchets were used to launch large projectiles to breach castle walls in times of warfare. Large rocks or stones were the most common ammunition but there are records of other more unusual materials being used including incendiary projectiles to cause fire, dead animal carcasses and sewage to spread disease, and body parts of prisoners to strike fear into the enemy.

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