You can contact me at rogercdavies(atsquiggle)  If you have a comment and the system won't let you post it, ping me using the @ for (atsquiggle)

This blog has evolved into a review of historical and modern explosive devices, and responses to them. Links are drawn between historical activity and similar activity in the world today. Mostly I focus on what are now called IEDs but I have a loose personal definition of that and wilingly stray into discussions of more traditional munitions, the science and technology behind them, tactical employment and EOD responses. Sometimes it's just about interesting people in one form or another. Comment is welcome and encouraged but I do monitor it and reserve the right to delete inappropriate stuff. Guest posts are always welcome. Avoid any stuff that makes the enemy's job easier for them.

A note on moral perspectives. Throughout this blog there are descriptions of all sorts of people using IEDs, explosives, or suffering the consequences. Some of the people using IEDs are thought of as heroes by some and terrorists by others. One person's good guy fighting for a cause is another person's evil demon.  It's complicated, and history adds another series of filters too. All of us too live in a narrative made up around however we were brought up, what we were taught and what we learned along the way, rightly or wrongly. So if you sense moral ambivalence, one way or the other, well, I'm guilty and I'm not perfect.  By and large though, I have unapologetic sympathy for those dealing with the devices, whether they be soldiers, cops, or whatever, even those who are part of Nazi or other nasty regimes. That's the cool thing about EOD techs - we don't really care who the enemy is.

« EOD Vehicles for moving IEDs | Main | Ghostbusters »

Detecting tunnellers with dried peas

In an earlier post I wrote about a peculiar technique allegedly recommended hundreds of years ago to detect buried explosives   I have been on the hunt for more very early explosive devices and EOD techniques.  I'm currently deep into a startling book published in 1590. Forgive me but I'm going to keep the name and author of the book to myself until I've finished working out what it says.

For now here's an intruiging technique from the book for detecting sub-terranean tunnelling such as was used for mining the ramparts and walls of fortified castles. Tunelling is of course still used by all sorts of terrorists, and others. Apologies if I have mistranslated any of the description from quite archaic (for me) language. For ease of reading here's my explanation of a couple of the words which may not be familiar to you, followed by the full description:

"lattine bason"  = tin basin, or tin pan

"peason" = dried peas

"woll" = wool

As touching thus for to know whether there be any undermining in the ground, and where that they be, it is thus knowne: - Take a lattine bason, and goe unto the place that you doo suspect that underminers may bee, and set that bason uppon the ground, and then put five or sixe peason in that bason, and if that there bee any underminers neere at hand, then at everie stroke that they are in the ground doo make with their tooles, the pease will make a jarre in the bason; and also the effect will the more appeare, if that you doo binde a sackfull of woll as hard as you can, then setting the bason with pease uppon that, you shall heare every stroake that is made in the ground, and this is one of the best things that may be devised to be placed in any place, for to knowe where that underminers be.

I find the counter-intuitive idea of tightly bound wool to aid the "coupling" of the tin pan with the ground to be very interesting. If I had anything other than tinned peas in the house I'd do an experiment right now...

More to follow on other fascinating matters from this book in weeks to come.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>