Roman Lock Pistol

Project details

  • Date

     December 15, 2014

  • Client

     Bly Straube, Senior Archaeological Curator, 2014

  • Task

     Study Collection

  • Category

     Arms & Armor, Copper alloy, Wood

Roman Lock Pistol

This pistol with a brass barrel, iron lockplate, and wooden fishtail stock was still loaded with two lead pistol shot when it was found by archaeologists in an early James Fort well. The flint-using gunlock with external mainspring is a rare and early variant of what is known as the Roman lock, a type which — before the Jamestown well find — had not been known to date before c.1640. c.1611-17.

An expensive firearm for its day, the pistol must have belonged to one of the fort’s gentlemen who had it ready to fire when he lost it down the shaft of the well. Perhaps the halberd that was modified into a hook and was found in the same context was being used to try to retrieve the pistol.