Roman Caltrop - The ancient stinger trap

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Category: 
Excavation
Finds
Community
Roman
Rural
Research
Binchester

Author

Charlotte Britton

My favourite object recovered from last year’s excavations at Binchester is this iron caltrop, measuring 51x36x24mm. Caltrops, or tribuli, were antipersonnel weapons used by the Romans, that consisted of four small iron spikes or nails that were joined at the base. This meant that whichever way they landed after being thrown to the ground, three of the arms formed a tripod with one arm pointing upwards. They were often used as a defensive weapon and were hidden in grass or shallow fords, to impede cavalry horses and marching troops. Caltrops formed part of the standard suite of Roman military equipment. It was most common for them to be used to defend the areas around forts, such as that situated at Binchester. Modern day equivalents are known as ‘stingers’ and are often used by the police to stop wheeled vehicles. #vroom

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