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Really Cool DIY Trebuchet Plans

Updated on November 10, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

A trebuchet ready to fire
A trebuchet ready to fire | Source

Make Your Enemies Weep

A trebuchet is medieval man's most powerful siege engine. It launches huge boulders at walls and reduce any fortification to rubble in no time. Building a trebuchet is fun, and relatively easy. So if you want to knock down a castle wall, or simply throw some pumpkins, check out some of these cool trebuchet plans online.

Why would anyone WANT to build a trebuchet?

This is the question many might ask upon finding this article. The question I have to ask in return, is why wouldn't someone want to build a trebuchet, but lets ignore that and look at why you might want to build one. The medieval world is much maligned as a world devoid of engineering advances, a dark age which was only saved by the enlightenment, seeing a trebuchet in action makes you question this. So much engineering beauty in the launching of whatever it is you want to launch. It is a great study in physics, after all the trebuchet is essentially just a series of levers and pulleys to increase the power of man.


Torsion trebuchet in use
Torsion trebuchet in use | Source

A Brief History of the Trebuchet

The image on the right shows two early forms of the trebuchet, the staff-sling or fustibalus, and the traction trebuchet. In both cases these were human powered trebuchets. The staff sling was exactly what it sounds like a sling attached to the end of a staff allowing the user to throw bigger rocks further than they could normally use. The traction trebuchet simply took the staff sling, made it longer and attached it to a base and used two or more people as the counter weight allowing for even greater payloads.

The counter weight trebuchet is what most modern people think of as a trebuchet and made its debut in the 11th century with minimum success. From there it grew to be one of the most powerful siege engines until cannons outclassed them.

The trebuchet's main purpose was always as a siege engine. Usually the trebuchet would be built to be able to be taken down to move from one battle to the next and assembled on the battlefield. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to sit on a castle wall watching what would most likely be the instrument of your death being built below out of range of your archers.

War Wolf

The Largest Trebuchet Ever Built

The year is 1304, King Edward I, known as Longshanks, is at war with Scotland over his claim to the throne of Scotland. Stirling Castle is besieged by Longshanks, but it would be a long siege and Stirling was well fortified. Longshanks commissions the building of one of the most feared devices of medieval warfare, a mighty trebuchet, but he wasn't content with just any trebuchet, this one needed to send a message and the message was England is superior in every way.

It took 30 wagons to haul the disassembled destroyer to the war-field and 3 months to complete building it. When all was said and done it is estimated that this monstrosity measured as tall as 400 feet. This weapon of mass destruction was a masterpiece of medieval engineering, and it was given a name. War Wolf.

Records claim that it took only one shot from War Wolf to end the siege at Stirling. The message was received by the Scots, and the wall at Stirling castle fell with a whimper under the might of a single blow from War Wolf.

Pumpkin Chuckin'

Pumpkin Chuckin' is a phenomenon sweeping North America, and it features trebuchets frequently. Basically pumpkin chuckin' is a contest where the contestants use various methods to throw a pumpkin (or other object) as far as possible. These contests take place all over both Canada and the US.

© 2014 Jeff Johnston

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    • profile image

      Leaidan 2 years ago

      Just cause it's simple doesn't mean it's not super hefupll.

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      Tanner Wills 3 years ago

      This website is fantastic, it helped so much.... not.