Whilst in the Sealed Knot we put on a muster at Newbury and as we often did we found ourselves down at the pub. I got talking to one of the locals who was really interested in the Civil War but was obviously disappointed with the distinct lack of knowledge of the average Knotter. So he was rather happy that I not only knew something of the period but actively wanted to chat about it. By the end of the night not only were both of us as tight as a drum but he was my new best friend! He was more than just interested in the Civil War he was keenly interested in the two Battles of Newbury and had visited the battle sights a good number of times. Would I be interested in a tour of one of them before the battle the following morning? Yes but it would have to be early and I would have to bring my hangover with me.
So next day EARLY saw me and this guy (I have forgot his name) walking around part of the battlefield and after he has given me the this happened here and that there for some time a twinkle came in his eye and out of his backpack he pulled a short spade, handing it to me he instructed me to dig. The photo's are the musket balls I dug out of the bank. Seems their is hundreds of the things in that area, so much that they are no value to the local historians or museums as they have so many already. For me it made my year and these balls remain one of my most savoured treasures.
I have taken the above pic for scale, these are 15mm Magister figures. The balls are various sizes, note the damage to some of them? Possible corrosion or possibly hit something on their way to the bank. These balls all but certainly missed their mark given that they were in the bank in the first place. Just one is almost perfect with a clear mold line round it. Also some of the dents would probably been from being chewed to make a better fit, though in these cases it seems the smaller balls are most pitted.
You wanted your ball to be as close a fit as possible to the muskets barrel as possible. If it was much smaller it would rattle down the barrel and be far less accurate. Consider at Marsten Moor that many pikes had their heads shot off through the enemy firing too high. This of course was early in the conflict and it was possible that the men firing the muskets were far less intent on killing their fellow man. Only later did it become a truly uncivil war. Oh and yes it's a great hangover cure.