Readings – Whistling Sling Bullets Were Roman Troops’ Secret ‘Terror Weapon’

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Slingers on Trajan's Column ~ Wikipedia

Slingers, on Trajan’s Column ~ Wikipedia

It seems humans have always found ways to terrorize their enemies in addition to killing. Eighteen hundred years ago, one of these was was “whistling” bullets flung with slings.


Whistling Sling Bullets Were Roman Troops’ Secret ‘Terror Weapon’

Tom Metcalfe | Live Science Contributor | June 13, 2016

“Some 1,800 years ago, Roman troops used “whistling” sling bullets as a “terror weapon” against their barbarian foes, according to archaeologists who found the cast lead bullets at a site in Scotland.

Weighing about 1 ounce (30 grams), each of the bullets had been drilled with a 0.2-inch (5 millimeters) hole that the researchers think was designed to give the soaring bullets a sharp buzzing or whistling noise in flight…

These holes converted the bullets into a “terror weapon,” said archaeologist John Reid of the Trimontium Trust, a Scottish historical society directing the first major archaeological investigation in 50 years of the Burnswark Hill site.

“You don’t just have these silent but deadly bullets flying over; you’ve got a sound effect coming off them that would keep the defenders’ heads down,” Reid told Live Science. “Every army likes an edge over its opponents, so this was an ingenious edge on the permutation of sling bullets.” ~ Continue reading

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3 Responses to Readings – Whistling Sling Bullets Were Roman Troops’ Secret ‘Terror Weapon’

  1. After a diligent internet search, I found a video of somebody who made some slingshot projectiles with whistle holes. Appears he has tried several things, including golf balls with multiple whistle holes. In the video below, you can fast forward over the tedium of how to make one and get right down to the “money shot” beginning at 2:00. Impressive. I would duck too.

  2. One of the most infamous use of whistle sounds in wartime was when the Junkers J-87 dive bomber was fitted with sirens the pilot could activate when the plane nosed over into it’s near vertical diving bomb run. The siren was mounted on one of the landing gear struts and driven by a small propeller turned by the plane’s slipstream. This is the actual sound of a Stuka dive bomber making a dive bombing run. The audio is 1940s era and definitely not high fidelity, so the actual sound would have been both louder and more shrill. Imagine being on the ground and hearing this thing overhead. It probably did not help that the JU-87 was one of the ugliest and most recognizable airplanes ever sent into combat.

  3. Thank you, Chuck! No mention of bagpipes as a weapon of intimidation?

    Then there’s the rebel yell:

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