Warwolf was a mighty siege engine that was built on the orders of the English monarch in the early 14th century.
Edward I of England ordered the construction of this powerful weapon at a time when castle sieges were a regular part of warfare.
Edward had the siege engine constructed specifically for use at the Stirling Castle as he besieged the castle. This was during the English participation in the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Warwolf became noted for its sheer size and the power with which it could hurl rocks, making it a formidable solution for the strongest of medieval castles.
Siege of Stirling Castle
In the early 14th century, English forces had subdued nearly the whole of Scotland. Only the formidable Stirling Castle remained where the garrison of Scottish soldiers held out for months.
King Edward had the castle besieged and bombarded with lead balls, stone balls, and other forms of missiles. However, none of these had any actual impact on the walls of the castle.
This was when the king came up with the idea of the construction of a massive siege engine that could help him demolish the castle walls.
Construction of Warwolf
The construction of Warwolf involved a mighty effort and sizable manpower. In all, Edward commissioned five master carpenters for the job. These in turn employed a total of 49 laborers.
Work on the Warwolf began and was completed in the year 1304.
It took the carpenters and laborers around 3 months to build the Warwolf. Upon its completion, it was the largest weapon of its kind in Europe.
The trebuchet was so large that when disassembled, its pieces had to be carted in 30 wagons. It could hurl mighty stones at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.
Warwolf Height and Power
There are no historical sources that detail the exact dimensions of the Warwolf siege engine. However, modern scholars have created estimates depending on the work involved and the power required to demolish the curtain walls of the Stirling Castle.
Based on these estimates, the Warwolf must have stood at least 300 feet to 400 feet tall. Given its height, the siege engine also had the ability to toss stones up to a greater distance.
Modern estimates calculate that the Warwolf could throw stones with immense power at walls as far as 200 yards away.
Use of Warwolf
Edward I had the Warwolf built specifically for use during the Siege of Stirling Castle in 1304.
Even as the siege engine was being built, the defenders of the castle saw the mighty structure and decided to surrender. However, Edward refused to accept their truce offer. He famously asked them to return to the castle so that he could still test the Warwolf.
Stones weighing up to 300 pounds were then hurled against the walls and gatehouse of the castle. The gatehouse was completely demolished and the stones were thrown from Warwolf also destroyed the curtain walls where they hit.
Historical Mentions of Warwolf
Despite being a weapon of extraordinary size and power, there are very few mentions of the Warwolf in history. The existing mentions of the mighty siege engine come directly from the historical documents of King Edward’s court.
In these documents, evidence exists of the payment to certain workers and court members for their efforts in the construction of the Warwolf.
One specific mention also states the total cost of having the Warwolf built, which was £40. Other than these, no other mentions of the Warwolf survive in any historic sources from the age or from later centuries.