A Post Medieval toy firearm, Beck Row

Top and side view of toy firearm

This month’s featured find is a miniature toy gun found by a local metal detector user near Beck Row in 2021.

Cast in copper alloy, the object mimics a match-lock petronel firearm used in the 16th and 17th centuries. It has a flared, fish-tail butt and a rectangular trigger loop on the underside of the stock. The barrel is hollow with a circular interior and a six-sided external face. One face has a moulded pan to represent the firing mechanism. The faces of the gun are decorated with a ‘ring and dot’ design, a decorative motif which began in late prehistory and persisted through to the Post Medieval period.

A handful of examples have been recorded by metal detector users from Suffolk in various states of completeness. They were intended to be fully working models complete with gunpowder pans, hollow barrels and ramrods. Examples are known to have originated from the late 16th century and, interestingly, appear to have continued to be used as toys long after their full-size prototypes had become obsolete. 

View the full record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database: SF-76516B.

Thank you to the finder for allowing this object to be featured.

This find was recorded by the Suffolk Finds Recording Team, supported by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

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