Main Project Inspiration: The Medievel Marvel

Anyone who has played Age of Empires will agree on one thing, that Trebuchets are awesome. For those who don’t know about this marvel of medieval engineering, a trebuchet is a type of siege engine that was used to hurl 100 kg (220 lbs) boulders at or into enemy fortifications located up to 300 meters (980 ft) away, making it vastly superior to other siege weapons like the catapult. I’ve been playing Age of Empires since I was a kid and although I am not very good at it, one thing I am good at is destroying my enemy castles with trebuchets. I became interested in this particular weapon because it had the longest range among all the siege weapons in the game. It could destroy a castle without even getting in the line of fire of archers mounted on top of the castle. Another good example of their usefulness can be seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King movie during the siege of Gondor scene. We can see a number of trebuchets mounted on the Minas Tirith Castle trying to defend the castle against Sauron’s forces. While other siege weapons like catapult and onagers have simple throwing mechanisms, the feature that sets a trebuchet apart is its sling action which helps in throwing the projectiles to much larger distances.

Trebuchets at Château de Castelnaud. Image Credit: Luc Viatour /


For my final project, I plan to make a scale model of this devastating machine which would throw tennis balls for about 30 ft. Below is a video of 100 trebuchets killing a single man in the AOE2 game.

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • Very creative idea! I think a point of focus will be the release mechanism for the tennis ball. Due to how light the ball is relative to what would normally be flung, the release angle may be difficult to achieve. Perhaps incorporating a handheld ball thrower (like the Chuckit) for your release mechanism could help.

  • Tyler Lefholz
    March 6, 2017 12:58 pm

    Wow, very interesting concept. I love medieval themes and I love the idea making a functional scale model of a trebuchet. Considering the size of the arm to the size of the projectile, a model launching a tennis ball will still be of significant size. Excited to see what this looks like!

  • Avery Anderson
    March 5, 2017 8:40 pm

    This is the ideal project if you want to launch a 90 kg projectile over 300 meters. That said, I actually built one of these for my freshman projects class at Georgia Tech for a Pumpkin Chunkin contest. They are fairly simple machines, the trickiest part was getting the release angle right and making a safe and reliable quick release mechanism. Good Luck!

  • Cyron Completo
    March 5, 2017 5:28 pm

    I agree that trebuchets are vastly superior to other medieval siege weaponry, namely the catapult. I am looking forward to seeing your designs: if it is able to launch those tennis balls over 30 meters, that would be highly impressive! How large would your scale model be and how heavy of a counterweight would it use?

  • Ryan Daniel
    March 5, 2017 2:12 pm

    Very interesting and abstract idea! I love the idea of a reverse clock, it would still be functional and use full but it would throw so many people off! I would try to stick with an analog clock if possible, I think that would mess with people the most and would be the most interesting.


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