Roman siege engine for sale

Ever wanted to own a full-scale Roman siege engine? Now you can!

The ballista was successfully built and managed to fire a very heavy stone ball some 127 yards. (Remember, these things used to successfully lay siege to entire cities.)

The ballista, dissembled, has been in our Scotland timber yard since then, so we have decided to make some room (quite a bit of room, actually) and sell it on eBay.

The ballista has aged gracefully and needs a little restoration work to get it back into shape again – though as a demonstration piece rather than as a fireable weapon. We’ve decided to sell the ballista ‘as seen’ for those who fancy constructing it themselves – though we are very happy to provide construction as an additional service. (To be fair, we recommend it – it will take people with timber expertise to do the required work.)

Our full-size Roman siege catapult for sale on eBay (Thanks, Uncle Wilco!)


  1. As I recall from the show, it cracked a bit under the stress of firing, so safety concerns are probably why they stress its now being a “demonstration piece”.

    The big handicap in construction turned out to be the tensioning material used in the “springs” that propel the projectile. The Romans used coiled ropes of animal tendon, which were a common commodity in their time, but would be prohibitively expensive and labor intensive to produce today — something of a “lost technology”.

    Such ropes contracted as they dried, while remaining resilient, making them the ideal material for bows generally, and giant ones especially. For the show, they attempted to use a particular type of nylon rope, which seemed to have comparable resiliency, but turned out to stretch and lose elasticity as they applied tension.

  2. The starting bid is 25,000 pounds? With an additional 18,000 pounds to have it assembled at a new site? And they don’t take Paypal. I think I’ll pass on this one.

  3. “The ballista, dissembled, has been in our Scotland timber yard since then”

    This dissembling ballista clearly has something to hide.

  4. #2: Umbriel. Yep, biopolymers are gonna tend to beat synthetic polymers for structural properties most of the time. We’re getting better, though…

  5. anything that’s been sitting in a yard for that long is not worth purchasing to use again (note: see ANY car purchased from some seedy dealership in the outskirts of a city, most notably from a guy with a deep Russian accent)

  6. I was actually touring around Scotland and happened to drive by this thing while it was being tested. It was pretty cool. What I remember most is the sound of all the creaking timber when this sucker was launched. If I was alive back in medieval days hearing that sound in the dead of the night would have scared me to death.

  7. Was that full size? Really makes you appreciate the extraordinary effectiveness of modern equipment.

    I wonder if a steam-powered catapult (like on an aircraft carrier) could be constructed on-site using Roman Empire technology.

  8. A trebuchet might get better distance, but the ballista seems like it could have a higher initial velocity on a flatter curve… so I wish they’d thrown the rock at some kind of wall and measured or estimated the force at which it hit. Or just measured the velocity… anyone know if they did that?

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