Parkman, Colin J. (2019) EXPERIMENTAL FIRING, AND ANALYSIS OF IMPACTED 17TH–18TH CENTURY LEAD BULLETS. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The analysis of spherical lead bullets recovered from early modern battlefields (1500-1815) has produced valuable data regarding battle location and the extent of the action. Previous experimentation and analysis of individual bullets demonstrate that diagnostic traits can be transferred to the surface of the bullet. However, the nature of impacted bullets and their potential to retain characteristic evidence from the impact surface have yet to be systematically addressed within conflict archaeology. This thesis examines the nature of bullet impact evidence through a series of proof of concept experimental firing trials. To achieve this aim, a reference collection of known bullet impacts which can be used as a comparative tool against archaeologically recovered bullets was established. To build this reference collection, a reproducible experimental firing methodology was created by examining military treatises and scientific publications contemporary to the early modern period, along with previous experimental firing trials and ballistics to identify and define experimental variables and parameters. Experimental designs were developed by examining the reconstructed historic landscape from two case study battlefields to identify common landscape features in which bullets may have impacted during battle. A ballistic modelling program was created through experimentation to enable a regimented experimental firing methodology that would compensate for musket inaccuracy, although with limitations. Experimental firing was conducted over sterile and stony ground surfaces as well as numerous wooden targets to establish a baseline of known bullet impacts. The results from the experimental firing reveal that bullets that impacted the ground surface retain distinct diagnostic characteristics that can be identified within bullets from archaeological assemblages. However, the distinctive characteristics identified on bullets that impacted wooden targets were not observed. This thesis demonstrates that experimentally fired bullets retain diagnostic traits from the impact surface that allow for specific classification and an advanced understanding of archaeologically recovered bullet assemblages.

Parkman THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (20MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email