Friday, 12 April 2013

J is for Javelin

J is for Javelin

All my posts for this A-Z Challenge Blog Hop will be themed around the Celtic/Roman Britain AD 71-84 era (at least that's my intention as I pen this on day 10)
J is for Javelin? Okay! I agree I’m cheating a bit since I’m now about to call it a pilum.

The Roman soldier used his gladius (G is for Gladius)  but he would not be engaging in battle without his pila (plural of pilum-had to look it up!).

The pilum was the typical spear carried by the Roman soldier and what a nasty, nifty weapon it was.

Around 2 metres long with a wooden shaft the iron shank was the key to success in downing the enemy. The tip was hardened but the shank wasn’t, which meant the pilum bent on impact with the enemy’s shield, or if a lucky strike the body of his Celtic enemy in Britannia. If the pilum embedded itself in the Celtic warrior’s shield it rendered it unmanageable as the pilum, still stuck fast to the leather covered wood, wobbled around.


And... oh dear...
A bent pilum wasn't much use to the enemy if picked up after use.

The pila were of two types: heavy and light. When engaging with a Celtic warrior in Britannia, once the first pilum was thrown at the enemy’s front line it caused a disruption to the line formation, thus giving the Roman soldier time to thrust his shield and draw his gladius. The pilum could also be used as a thrusting weapon to create distance.

So...the Roman soldier wouldn't want to lose or use his pilum/pila too soon.

ps. I'm not entirely sure the typical Roman soldier in Britannia would be looking to wear the bear helmet...but maybe?

The pilum was a good all round weapon that enjoyed a good bit of success. That's not to say the Celts in Britannia didn't throw a spear or two of their own - they did that very well themselves.

Lorcan in my historical novel THE BELTANE CHOICE was very adept indeed at throwing his spear. Lorca of the Brigantes meets Nara of the Selgovae, rival tribes who are having a tribal spat...


The humming of the reverberating spear blocking her passage was deafening, having missed her by a hair’s breadth. The clattering noise of a weapon dropping was surpassed by the roar of the warrior when he leapt upon her, easily subduing her struggles and cries. Her knees ground into the forest floor before he whirled her face-up, his fingers encircling her throat poised to throttle. The speed of his attack, and the dead-weight of him fully atop her, should have brought forth the blood-rage of battle, but…it did not.

From neither her, nor him.

Yet again their gazes locked and lingered. Nara panted, but not because he was stifling the breath out of her. He looked dismayed; maybe even guilty. She was not convinced which emotion he felt most, but though his hands remained in place, the tension in his fingers relaxed. His thumbs gentled the skin they had just pressed upon while he, too, fought hard for his breath, his glowing brown eyes sliding down to stare at her neck.

She was so aware of the virile scent of him and of his harsh face now squashed against her own. His voice grit against her ear. “You are not going to escape from me, Nara.”

“Your spear did not hit its mark…” Nara gasped, struggling under him to no avail, the hilts of his weapon hoard digging deep into her stomach.

“My spear hit exactly where I wanted it to. If I had wanted to fell you, I would be walking past your lifeless body right now.”

More on weapons soon...


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