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WATCH: College student builds life-size medieval trebuchet that really works



Zelda Caldwell - published on 11/15/17

The projectile launcher was just like those used in the Middle Ages, except for the choice of ammunition.

To get an idea of what life was like in the Middle Ages, you could build a model trebuchet, to see how knights managed to launch heavy projectiles over their enemy’s castle ramparts. In fact, such models are widely available in craft stores and toy shops.

Utah State University history major Daniel Bertrand went a little further than that – he built a life-size trebuchet for his senior project.

At 32 feet high and 1,200 pounds, with an entire tree trunk employed as its throwing arm, Bertrand’s machine was historically accurate, although he did take advantage of modern innovations in carpentry.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” he told HJNews. “And we have power tools, so I’m not sure what the medieval people did.”

Last week he invited members of the community to watch the trebuchet launch pumpkins – another concession to modern sensibilities. A medieval trebuchet would have used metal or stone balls, heads, corpses, dead animals, excrement or trash as projectiles.

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