FULLY BOOKED - Reserve List Only - Contact [email protected]

Saturday 27th March 2021

If you have credit from cancelled NAS courses and would like to attend this course - DO NOT BOOK ONLINE. Please contact [email protected] and we will sort out your booking for you. 


This course will provide a theoretical and practical insight into the history, technology and development of cannon focussing primarily on cannon from the sea and guns carried on board ships.

The course aims to introduce participants to all aspects of cannon - their mountings, accessories, gunpowder and ammunition – and to use their knowledge and its practical application in an archaeological context. Through theoretical presentations participants will see how the study of the wider context of armaments on ships can contribute to the interpretation of the wider archaeological record.

Through presentations and online practical exercises, participants will learn the key aspects of artillery, what to look for and how to recognise key features and how these change with time and geography. The course will also explore how to systematically record a cannon.

They will also learn about avenues of research available to identify more closely artillery and their context in which they have survived.

Aspects to be covered include:

•             Types of cannon and their key features

•             Development of cannons

•             Where you can find cannons ( including underwater site formation )

•             Recording and photographing cannons

•             Using the features of a cannon as an aid to identification

•             Resources for researching cannon  


The course is aimed at individuals undertaking the NAS Education programme, as well as professional archaeologists wanting to know more about identifying cannons.

NAS members will earn 5 credits for attending

A computer or tablet (phone screens are a bit small to look at for the whole day) with a good internet connection is essential. A built-in or external webcam and microphone are optional. A week before the course you will receive an invitation to the online course session which will be run through GoToMeeting. This is an online video conferencing programme that can be run directly through the internet or you get better connection if you download the small programme - it only takes a minute to do. 

If you are concerned about your computer set up, please contact the organiser at [email protected] for a test run before the course.

NAS members £30
Non-NAS members £60 (although as NAS membership starts at £12, you're better off becoming a member and getting the discount rate immediately!)


The expert tutors will be

Ruth Rhynas Brown -  Ruth was formerly a curator in the Armouries in the Tower of London, specializes in the study of artillery from 1600 to 1850. She has published and lectured widely and is an internationally recognized authority on artillery.

Kay Douglas Smith - Kay has published and lectured widely on artillery before 1600 and has made a particular study of wrought-iron cannon. She is a recognized authority on early gunpowder and on the technology of early artillery.

Nick Reed - NAS Member and retired teacher. Founder of the Big Cannon Project. 

Mark Beattie-Edwards - Mark is the CEO of the NAS. For the last 10 years Mark has been the licensee of the Normans' Bay protected wreck which includes an assemblage of 52 iron cannon on the seabed off the coast of Sussex. Mark is currently also working on a recently discovered historic wreck including at least 22 cannons.

Please note Timetable is provisional and may be subject to change

08:30     Login Open, Testing the Technology 

09:00     Welcome, Course Etiquette, Introductions (30 mins) 

09:30     Basic identification of cannon – materials, shapes, sizes and terminology (45 mins) 

10:15     Cannon underwater - where are you likely to find cannon, site formation processes, the cannon assemblage. Conservation of cannons (30 mins) 

10:45     BREAK (30 mins)

11:15     How cannon work – carriages and accessories (45 mins) 

12:00     Part 1 History and development of cannon using case studies (45 mins) 

12:45     LUNCH (60 mins)

13:45     Part 2 History and development of cannon using case studies (45 mins) 

14:30     Creating a record of a cannon – measuring, photography and recording (30 mins) 

15:00     BREAK (30 Mins)

15:30    How to “read” a cannon – basic cannon identification (45 mins)

16:15    Further research (30 mins) 

16:45    Round up and final questions (15 mins)

17:00     FINISH