Thursday, 21 November 2013


During our visit to the Tower of London, we saw a reenactor dressed up as a medieval priest who gave us an overview of the history of the Tower as a royal palace, a prison, and a fortress.  A full-sized replica trebuchet was on site to demonstrate the power of this medieval siedge weapon.  It took five adults to launch the trebuchet.

The trebuchet is of special interest because the weapon has been traced back to being first used by Edward I during his siege of Stirling Castle.

While Tiger and I discussed about medieval siege weapons, I was given a quick education by Tiger of the differences between a trebuchet and a mangonel.  If your knowledge of medieval weaponry is like mine, i.e. that you think all catapulting machines work in the same way, you will benefit (as I have) from watching the two clips below:

1) Trebuchet

2) Mangonel

We learn much about the trebuchet from the following clip:

Why do we want to know so much about the trebuchet?  The main reason is that Tiger is passionate about everything that has to do with warfares and weaponry, historical and otherwise.  After hours of listening and watching experts talk about this medieval war machine, we decided it was time to build one ourselves.

It took us a few days to put the trebuchet together...

and when it was fully assembled, all of us thought it looked beautiful!

Naturally, we had to test whether it to see how good it is.

Unfortunately, our first few attempts at launching the trebuchet didn't go too smoothly.

The projectile either didn't go in an arc path, or was trapped in the launch net, or was launched backwards (gasp!).  It was slightly frustrating to have to work out what went wrong.  Not wanting to give up now, after we had spent so much time putting the model together, we pressed on with more tweaking, taking into consideration the following factors that might affect the success of our launch:
  • tension of string
  • length of string
  • weight of projectile
  • size of projectile
  • weight of counter-weight load
It's very exciting when it finally worked!


Tiger spent the rest of the day trying to break the record for the longest distance the projectile would go.  So far, his record is at 17 feet.

When we heard that Warwick Castle has the world's largest working trebuchet, we had to go and see it at work!

Check out the size of these real, medieval trebuchet balls made of solid stone!

This post is linked up to:
  1. History and Geography Meme #100
  2. Collage Friday - Boxes, Schoolwork & Squirrels
  3. Entertaining and Educational - Teaching Kids to Tie Their Shoes
  4. Weekly Wrap-up: The One with No Time
  5. Homeschool Mother's Journal {November 23, 2013}
  6. Hip Homeschool Hop - 11/26/2013


  1. What a great collection of trebuchet resources. It is just wonderful how you are working with Tiger's passion for weaponry. There is so much learning going on there.

  2. Your trebuchet is beautiful. I agree with Lucinda that this is a great collection of trebuchet resources.

  3. Thank you, Lucinda. Being able to provide a learning experience that is uniquely tailored to the child is one of the many benefits of homeschooling. :-)

  4. Thank you, Phyllis. I'm finding that there are many different resources that are available to learn just about any topic that a child is interested in, that it is impossible to include them all, or to define the scope of one's learning experience. It's all very interesting. :-)

  5. I love the process of tweaking and re-tweaking in order to get it to work - so many good lessons there compared to if it had worked from the beginning!
    As always great field trips!

  6. I think I've laid it on gently in the post about the frustration that we felt when the trebuchet didn't work. :-) Perseverance is not an easy lesson to learn!

  7. I understand how it feels when engineering projects for kids don't go as planned. We had difficulty getting our Archimedes screws to work, the pulleys we built took much longer than anticipated and the adrenalin chain-reaction sequence we put together was a big challenge. Some kids and adults love this type of challenge and others of us wish we were onto something else:) I'm glad you got it working.

  8. I know what you mean, Julie. Thank you for your encouragement. Learning to deal with frustrations can be a good lesson, but projects that don't work tend to get on my nerves after a while, so I'm very glad that the trebuchet worked in the end!

  9. So great to be able to come up with hands on activities that fit with your son's passion - and a unique passion it is! I can relate to your frustration when it wasn't working - glad to hear it worked out in the end :)

  10. I love all the resources here and so did Firecracker. He's sitting over my shoulder admiring :-)

  11. Thank you both, Marie and raventhreads, for stopping by with your encouraging comments. :-) It is indeed a privilege to be able to support our children's interests with related resources. I just feel very lucky to be able to locate the ones that are relevant! :-)


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