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Bar Hill Pila
#1
I've long been curious about the pilum heads from Bar Hill on the Antonine Wall. They always struck me as rather hefty (compare this rather finer example from Newstead) and I wondered if they might be something else entirely. However, I am assured by M.C. Bishop's informative new book, The Pilum: The Roman Heavy Javelin,* that they are pila: "all appear to have fractured just below the head. Some have turned-over tips, suggesting they struck a hard surface when thrown. They may have broken off on impact and ...may conceivably have been awaiting fire-welding back onto a shank." Dr Bishop also notes that the same type of pilum is depicted of the famous relief from the neighbouring fort at Croy Hill.

* A worthy companion to The Gladius

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#2
My thoughts Ross, I have made a few. Looking up the context, to me they have been cut off from the shaft and then the points killed and offered as offerings as they are found in a well. It does not look like damage and they have been cut off. The difference in size is down to who manufactured them,  each Fabrica would have a different way to make a item from a brief. The Newstead head also looks like corrosion has taken away some of its size, but It does have a longer slimmer profile. Also they could be a different size head for the two types of pila light and heavy so ? I am also interested in others thoughts  Smile
Regards Brennivs  Big Grin
Woe Ye The Vanquished
                     Brennvs 390 BC
When you have all this why do you envy our mud huts
                     Caratacvs
Centvrio Brennivs COH I Dacorivm (Roma Antiqvia)
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#3
Copys of the 1905-06 report which I believe are identical except for page numbers can be found here:

From ADS "Proceeding of The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland", you may need to agree to the terms to download:
http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/arch...03_546.pdf

And on the Internet Archive here:
https://archive.org/details/texts?and[]=...BAR%20HILL,

ADS version Page 519-20:

"From the outlying ditch that covered the E. gate of the fort there were taken four objects of
the same class. One of these, which is shown in fig.40 (No. 4), appears
to furnish a clue to the real nature of the whole set. The tang is long,
out of all proportion to what would have been possible in a tool or in
the spike of a spear-shaft; it measures 4.25  inches, or rather more than
twice as much as the head to which it belongs.
Withal it is incomplete, the end showing clear signs of fracture.

The pilum, or heavy javelin of
the Roman soldier, is known to us, not only from the monuments, hut
also from actual specimens. One of its leading characteristics was
the great length of the iron head; inclusive of tang (if the word ' tang'
be appropriate in the circumstances), it was about as long as the wooden
shaft. If fig. 40, No. 4, be a fair index, we shall perhaps be justified
in regarding the whole of the twenty-six objects in question as broken
heads of pila. The variation in their size is entirely in favour of this
hypothesis."


In total 26 (25 in Robertson, Scott and Keppie with 8 illustrated) heads, four from outside the east gate (at least one may be broken in use) and 22 in the well were found for the most part broken closely to the heads...
To me this seems deliberate though, if you think about it whats the chances of recovering 22 broken heads damaged in use in such a quantity from target practice say let alone combat? far likely that they were collected after deliberatly being broken off... except perhaps for the four from the east gate ditch...
I would suggest that if these were pilums then the heads were deliberatly broken off to re-use the shaft material which would be quite usefull for many items... possibly from already damaged or broken pilum shafts..
It should be noted theres a good deal of various items of scrap iron in the well.



22 pilum Heads from the well
   

Scrap iron mostly from the well
   

Ross your image doesn't show....
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#4
Brennius, Crispianus - many thanks for your responses! 

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[Image: 34848992502_39a2609c77_z.jpg]
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#5
Interesting photos, I would say there is some evidence there for deliberately removing the heads, several appear to have been struck with a hammer to thin the shank to a point its possible to snap the head off IMO...
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#6
Thanks for that info Ivor  Smile the angle of the cut looks like it was done on a cut off hardy or hot cutter Some of the heads are bent which would be consistant with a hammer blow as it cut through the shank or lying on a anvil  as it was cut. 
http://www.antoninewall.org/research-res...ll&page=21
There is a photo which shows what I mean quite well in the above database.
   
Regards Brennivs  Big Grin
Woe Ye The Vanquished
                     Brennvs 390 BC
When you have all this why do you envy our mud huts
                     Caratacvs
Centvrio Brennivs COH I Dacorivm (Roma Antiqvia)
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#7
Thanks again for the informative replies. I will be peering even more closely the next time I'm in the Hunterian.

Cheers,

R!
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#8
Ross the next question is why would, by the looks of the perfectly good heads would you then cut them off ? If this is the case  Huh
Regards Brennivs  Big Grin
Woe Ye The Vanquished
                     Brennvs 390 BC
When you have all this why do you envy our mud huts
                     Caratacvs
Centvrio Brennivs COH I Dacorivm (Roma Antiqvia)
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#9
(06-02-2017, 10:26 PM)brennivs - tony drake Wrote: Ross the next question is why would, by the looks of the perfectly good heads would you then cut them off ? If this is the case  Huh
Regards Brennivs  Big Grin
 
Other than whats already been said:

They look irregular or unfinished, so my theory (or speculation) would be either practice pieces or if the heads are a harder metal, have been produced seperatly from the iron shanks as part of the process, with the intention of forge welding them to the shanks at some point.. the smith produced more heads then was necesary for the  purpose hence the spares... this only applies to the 22 from the well, of the 4 from the E.gate I've only seen images of one (or possibly two?) and that looks more like broken pila....

It may be possible to answer some of this if there was some analysis of the metal?

Pila head No4 from the E.gate (1905-6 report) sorry for the poor image the original should be better:
   

From Robertson, Scott and Keppie (far right not from the well) possibly the same item if not then its one of the four from the E.Gate:
   
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#10
Stupid me Ivor forgot it mentioned my thoughts in the last paragraph   Blush Blush  The heads would be forged from the shaft as you draw it down leave the end the thickness you started with, D. Sim has a slightly different way of doing this in Iron for the Eagles the end result is the same. To 're attach a head would be more work than its worth. I would convert them for Ballista bolt heads.
Thanks for correcting me  Wink
Regards Brennivs  Big Grin
Woe Ye The Vanquished
                     Brennvs 390 BC
When you have all this why do you envy our mud huts
                     Caratacvs
Centvrio Brennivs COH I Dacorivm (Roma Antiqvia)
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#11
(06-03-2017, 05:46 PM)brennivs - tony drake Wrote: Stupid me Ivor forgot it mentioned my thoughts in the last paragraph   Blush Blush  The heads would be forged from the shaft as you draw it down leave the end the thickness you started with, D. Sim has a slightly different way of doing this in Iron for the Eagles the end result is the same. To 're attach a head would be more work than its worth. I would convert them for Ballista bolt heads.
Thanks for correcting me  Wink
Regards Brennivs  Big Grin

Sorry you've lost me with the first bit?

Would agree on drawing a bar down its the logical way, however I'm sure there are as many ways of making these as there are smiths and its seems to me pretty normal for a harder edge to be added to a tool, so I wouldn't rule out forge welding the components together if a harder tip is wanted.... but all this is merely speculation in that regard...
My thoughts are though that you could repair almost any part of a broken pilum by forge welding, a lost broken off tip would need a total replacement and would be a lot less work then making a brand new pilum, possibly by using either a scarf or cleft welded joint in most cases... though you may need three hands and an experienced helper to do it...


Not trying to correct, Just throwing some thoughts out there none of which are written in stone so to speak  Wink
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#12
If you wanted a harder head you could do it on the shank, which would ensure greater structural integrity. To harden the head of a pilum you would embed the head only in the charcoal to heat up, leaving the shank supported outside the charcoal, as you were working on another piece. Striking the head repeatedly on each surface once it was out of the forge again would force carbon from the charcoal into the iron, as well as work hardening it. After repeating this a few times and possibly then plunging it, the head would be noticeably harder than the shank. Of course, Peter Connolley's experiments showed that the soft pilum shank idea was wrong and that the shank needed to be rigid for the point to penetrate, so I would not expect the head to be that much harder than the shank in that case.

Crispvs
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