Royal Armouries

Bronze Saker

Images

Bronze tudor cannon

Saker gun, 1601. XIX.23.

  • Bronze tudor cannon

    Saker gun, 1601. XIX.23.

Date: 1601 | Object number: XIX.23

Bronze Saker

Description

Collection no. XIX.23
Date 1601
Calibre (mm) 95
Barrel length (m) 2.946
Weight (kg) 1,000
Projectile weight (kg) 2.3-2.7
Range (m) 330
Crew 6
Fire rate 1-2 per minute

A gun for all seasons

Built to last, this amazing Saker was originally cast during the reign of Elizabeth I in about 1601. However, in the Far East in about 1800 the barrel was inscribed in Chinese recording its fine quality and ‘intimidating power’. The Saker was captured from the Chinese by the Royal Navy during the First Opium War (1839-42), being returned to Britain and entering the Royal Armouries collection.

Sakers were guns used on ships and on land: heavy enough to be useful at a siege and light enough for use on the battlefield.

This saker demonstrates the capabilities of a muzzle loading gun. Made in London, it found its way to China where, over two hundred years later, its power remained awesome.

The saker was named after a bird of prey, perhaps suggesting the gun’s elegance and deadliness. This one was cast in London by Richard Phillips whose foundry was at the ‘Sign of the Fireball’.

Bronze guns lasted well, justifying their high initial cost in materials and workmanship. This gun probably travelled to China as part of the armament of a merchant ship. Captured by the British at Chusan (now Zhoushan), during the First Opium War, it was brought to the Tower of London In 1842. The carriage is a replica.

The Chinese inscription on the barrel praises its quality. When tested in 1800 it was:
‘…found to be a gun of good workmanship and of intimidating power. At each discharge it sent forth a thundering sound…’

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