Magonel Siege Engines Used in Siege Warfare

How Magonels Siege Engines were used in Siege Warfare: Hurl rocks, Flaming Objects, and anything else Available!

How were Magonels used in Siege Warfare? What did Magonels look like? Why were Magonels used? Find out the answers to all these questions and more in this comprehensive guide about how Magonels were used in Siege Warfare.

Mangonel Catapult Origins

The Roman Onager – an early type of Mangonel Catapult used by Roman Soldiers

What is a Magonel Siege Weapon?

A magonel is a siege weapon from the Middle Ages. They were often constructed out of wood or other materials that could be found locally.


A magonel was a type of siege weapon that was often used during the Middle Ages. It consisted of a large bucket or basket at the end of a long throwing arm.

Siege Weapons Castles

The basket/bucket was commonly filled with rocks, burning objects such as firepots or vessels crammed with highly flammable materials, anything readily available could be used to the attack defending forces.

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Rocks would be thrown from these weapons against weak points of a castle and into castle interiors and also against inhabitants of walled medieval towns, they could also be aimed to kill those on top of the walls or throw them off balance.

A Trebuchet Catapult Siege Attack on a Castle

The Different Types of Magonels

The types of magonels that were typically used in siege warfare consisted of different types of catapults such as

  • Mangonel
  • Trebuchet
  • Ballista
  • Onager
  • Catapulta

The mangonel was often used for hurling large stones at fortifications or other targets with an engine consisting of a long beam pivoted at one end to form a lever with a sling attached to the opposite end for holding projectiles.

Mangonel Castle Siege Weapon Defending a Castles

How Magonels were used in Siege Warfare

Magonels were also used for throwing more unusual types of projectile like the decomposed carcasses of dead animals and human body parts to demoralise a Castle or Towns inhabitants.

  • These machines could launch projectiles from a great distance
  • The magonels could be loaded with flaming objects that would set buildings on fire as well as people inside
  • Each type of rock had a specific purpose such as damaging walls or killing people
  • Magonels were smaller than other Throwing engines such as Trebuchets and could be quickly and easily moved into position
  • Mangonel siege engines could be wheeled and fired at vulnerable parts of a castle such as the entrance gates
medieval siege weapons crossbows onagers catapults battering rams5

Medieval siege weapons, crossbows, onagers, catapults and battering rams

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Magonels

The advantages of magonels are that they were relatively easy and cheap to make and easy to use. They could be made out of large logs and branches.

Mangonel catapult Siege Weapon.jpg

Some disadvantages of magonels are that they have a limited range and are not particulary accurate. If you wanted to hit a specific target, you’ll would need to get close enough to accurately aim your projectile.

Mangonel catapult Siege Weapon