The Trebuchet

Trebuchet - Similar to the catapult in that it was designed to throw large objects but it was more efficient than a catapult because it could be built faster and at less cost. Yet it could throw heavier objects even further. The basic theory of the Trebuchet was like that of a see saw. One end had a heavy weight. The other end extended much longer and had a sling where the thrown object was put. When the trebuchet was activated the heavy weight would fall and the swinging of the see-saw would propel the object.

Trebuchet Kit

Build your own Trebuchet! Available at



Medieval Siege Weapons (1): Western Europe AD 585-1385 (New Vanguard)






Watch a Trebuchet Video - See this trebuchet in action

Here is a video of an astonishingly large Trebuchet shooting a fireball. This thing really gets some air time. This might be the biggest and most powerful Trebuchet in the world and it is at Warwick Castle.


Over the centuries many different techniques were employed to siege castles. Here were some of the simpler (less technological) ways that castles were sieged. These techniques were used more often in the early centuries of castles. As technology improved and siege engines were developed the engines were more often used because they were quicker to bring about the fall of the castle.

  1. Deception: Spies were used to infiltrate the castle. They could, at night, open the castle gates or wreak havoc on the interior defenses of the castle. The most famous case of this tactic is the Trojan Horse.
  2. Treachery: Someone trusted within the power structure of the castle could give misleading information that would bring down the castle. He could for example report that there were many more troops sieging the castle than there actually were. This would induce the castle residents to either revolt or surrender out of fear.
  3. Starvation: This was a method used but it often meant many months, sometimes even a year or more. The sieging army would station itself around the castle and not allow any form of commerce. Eventually the inhabitants would surrender due to imminent starvation.
  4. Biological warfare: Yep that's right. A sieging force could launch the remains of rotting corpses into the castle causing outbreaks of life-threatening illness.
  5. Simple storm: The sieging force could carry on an all out attack at various points of the castle. This overwhelming would hopefully break through in some places causing a collapse in defenses.
  6. Mining: The sieging army would actually dig tunnels under the castle. The hope was not so much for an entry into the castle but for a way to collapse the castle defenses.


BUILD A TREBUCHET Interested in building your own Trebuchet? Here is a free tutorial that shows you how to build this table top Trebuchet called "The Little Dragon" It hurls projectiles 30 feet and can be tuned to throw them even further. It can be made with a little wood and some household items. Full free plans and instructions with lots of pictures -nice tutorial The Little Dragon


Medieval Siege : A nova Special

The Siege Arms Race - Castles, and how they were sieged developed over the centuries in a medieval style arms race. All of the siege tactics shown above were replaced by large medieval weapons. These weapons could bring down the fortress walls quickly and efficiently. But castles too adapted by building stronger, taller, and thicker walls. They even used concentric walls with walls inside walls. Once the art of explosives developed reasonably well and artillery became accurate and reliable castles fell out of favor in that they could not provide adequate defense. The castles then became more of a fortified place for royalty to live. NOVA: Medieval Siege