Name Prussian Gun
Latitude 50° 21.354 N
Longitude 004° 08.970 W
Depth 13m
Accuracy 50m
Object Class Ordnance
Object Type Gun
Material Metal : Copper Alloy
Description Prussian 3 pound cannon
Collect Method Excavated
Length 1485mm
Condition Good
Completeness 100 %
Location Description Drakes Island, East side
Seabed type Fine sand
Provisional Date 1750-1780

Prussian Gun (72A01)

This gun was found by three Plymouth divers in September 1972, Peter Dyer, Roger Mackey and Keith Faye. The cannon is a bronze three-pound cannon without dolphins, the bore is 2.94 ins. (0.075 m.), and the length is 4 ft. 10 ins. (1.485 m). On recovery, it was found fully charged with wad, cartridge, and ball.

The weapon has been identified as a Prussian light field gun of the reign of Frederick II (the Great), King of Prussia, 1740-86, and was probably cast between 1750 and 1780. It is typical of German pieces of the period known as regimenstuck. These were normally three or four pound cannon which accompanied infantry in the field. They were light enough to be manoeuvred to the rear by a single horse, or man-handled for short distances.

The decorative royal cypher bearing the initials FR (Fredericus Rex) in prominent relief beneath the Prussian royal crown, and the inscription overall 'ULTIMA RATIO REGIS' ('The last argument of a king') verify this. The use of this motto dates from 1613 and apart from Frederick the Great was used by other rulers, including Louis XV of France (1715-1774) (see Buchman, 1957,476). The crest on the chase shows a magnificent eagle in flight with a sword in the dexter claw. Above this, again the Prussian crown and the incomplete motto 'PRO ...... PATRIA'. The missing word from the motto is probably GLORIA. Although some of the detail has been eroded and is indistinct, this is a royal badge commonly found on Prussian cannon of the period.

From 'An Eighteenth-Century Prussian Cannon from Plymouth Sound', see reference below.

The gun was eventually auctioned at Sotheby's and is believed to have ended up in a museum in Russia.

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McBride P., 1973, An Eighteenth-Century Prussian Cannon from Plymouth Sound, Cornish Archaeology No. 12

McBride P., 1974, A Prussian cannon recovered from a site in Plymouth Sound, IJNA 3.1, pp161-163

Mitchell P., 1986, The Wrecker's Guide To South-West Devon, Sound Diving Publications, pp74-75