A Battering ram was one of the most popular and commonly used medieval siege weapons and was used to break open the walls or gates of fortifications. It could be built in various sizes, forms, and structures and was relatively easier to build compared to more sophisticated siege weapons. It was also among the highly traditional medieval siege weapons whose use declined after the introduction of cannons and use of gunpowder.
Battering Ram History
The Battering Ram is among the oldest used siege weapons and its history can be traced back to the ancient Assyrians whose images have been found using battering rams from about 9th century BC. Subsequently, it was used by Greeks and Romans as well as other people throughout the world. Over the subsequent centuries, various innovations in the design of battering rams were brought about.
Image shows battering ram from the front
Battering Ram Definition
A battering ram was among those medieval siege weapons that could be made into various shapes, with the same purpose of damaging the gates and walls. Thus in its simplest form, a battering ram could be a large and heavy log of wood propelled by a group of people. Later rams, however, were made more effective by the addition of an arrow-proof and fire-resistant canopy to provide cover for the people operating the ram. This heavier kind of battering ram was mounted on wheels for easy mobility.
Battering rams as the name suggests were used to batter down Castle walls and doors
Battering rams were not sophisticated siege weapons
The use of battering rams can be traced back to ancient times
Images were found of the ancient Assyrians using battering rams
In later medieval periods canopies were used to protect soldiers from enemy fire
Heavy battering rams had wheels added to them in later medieval times
How was a Battering Ram Used
Unlike various other medieval siege weapons, a battering ram could only be used for attacking purposes and had little to no role to play in defence. The way to use a battering ram was similar regardless of the type. A group of people would forcefully propel the battering ram and bring it with force against the target in order to damage the target which was usually the gate or wall of the castle. Mostly, the target was the castle gate because it was the weakest part of the castle.
Mechanism of a Battering Ram
The Battering ram with canopy was famous during the late medieval times. The canopy on the battering ram provided protection to the soldiers against incoming arrows or hot tar which could be poured from the murder holes along the walls of the castle. The soldiers operating the battering ram would run from a short distance with it producing a lot of force against the target.
This image shows a medieval battering ram from the rear
Battering Ram During a Siege
The Battering ram was one of the most commonly used medieval siege weapons. However, it could only be used once the invading army had approached closer to the castle. Thus it was useless at a distance in which case other medieval siege weapons such as various kinds of catapults were used. Some famous historical sieges during which battering rams were used include the fall of Rome, the siege of Constantinople, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
Battering Ram Summary
Among the frequently employed medieval siege weapons, a battering ram is quite important. This was a relatively simple siege weapon which did not require any technical expertise to operate. It would simply consist of a log of wood propelled by a group of people and used to damage the castle gates or walls. Later rams also consisted of canopies which provided added protection to the crew.
The battering ram was mainly used against the weakest part of the castle – the gate
Castle gates became more fortified due to the dangers of battering rams
Castle moats and gatehouses were added to Castles to stop battering rams being effective
Battering rams were used in the siege of Constantinople
Battering rams were used by the Romans when attacking Jerusalem
Battering rams were basic siege weapons and not sophisticated like Trebuchet siege weapons etc
We hope you enjoyed this article on the medieval siege weapon “the battering ram”. The battering ram was a simple and reasonably effective siege weapon whose power was nullified by the advancements in Castle design. If you’d like to learn more about medieval siege weapons such as the battering ram please look at the links at the bottom of this battering ram article page.