Alexander got a new castle playset today, and on the front of the box were pictures of more things than were actually in the box. In particular there was a catapult (in the style of an Onager) and a few other siege engine type things. So in typical four year old fashion Daddy was asked to help with construction of a replacement.

To start with we had some string and some lolly sticks, but those were just too difficult to work with, the lolly sticks were really too flat to be able to get the right sort of shape. Fortunately I remembered that we had some wood left from an ash tree that I had cut down and that some of those were about finger thickness. So I popped out into the garden and cut some of the wood up to the right length. Five minutes later, with the aid of knots remembered from my Scout days, we had a working catapult!

Siege Engine Built

The main frame of the siege engine is built from the ash twigs, using square lashings to keep them firm. The lolly sticks are used to hold the handle of the spoon in place. These are lashed onto several lengths of string that have been twisted to give motive power to the spoon when it is pulled back.

A mini siege engine built from twigs, string and a plastic spoon (photo: James Kemp)
It shoots one of the plastic balls that came with the castle playset about a yard or so (metre if you are metric). Best things about it are that Alexander played with it as much as the other parts of the set and that the balls are shot at low velocity so they don’t hurt when they hit you…
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