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No other earliest bronze barrel has been known so far. 30 nearly identical short and round, but not stout, barrels wrought of wound band-iron that were found on the battleground of Aljubarrota in Portugal (today's view attached).The next-in-line instances and earliest known finds of wrought-iron barrels date from ca. That battle took place on 14 August 1385 and was fought between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile.By the end of the 14th c., the stylistic sensitivity of the Gothic period had finally taken over and the short, stout barrels were now shaped either hexagonal or octagonal, with a slightly swamped accentuation of the muzzle.The round touch hole still was in most instances rather small and located on top, close to the rear end of the barrel.
) and measures 8 mm in diameter; it seems to have been struck in the white-warm iron and has a slight hollow to it, the bore has been drilled out quite irregularly somewhat later in its working life to 2.7 x 2.9 cm (!
On a close second view, however, each barrel does provide further criteria that have proven their reliability in 40 years of my own research studies.
With those four decades of my work in the back of my mind, I now feel sufficiently reassured and wish to finally share my dating criteria as there are more relevant factors to barrels than merely touch holes. From both the illustrations in the Holkham (1326) and Christ Church (1326-7) manuscripts by Walter de Milemete, we are familiar with the basic vase-shaped round copper-alloy (bronze) barrels which marked the very beginning of firearms. 1300 in the Museum of London, if one neglects their handles, denote the everyday use of that basically obsolete Romanesque sense of style. 1340-50, has remained the only real firearms find to prove that those illustrations were quite exact.
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