These are some of the books that we own and recommend on the subject of siege, ancient artillery and engineering:


E.W. Marsden’s  Greek and Roman Artillery (Historical development)” & “Greek and Roman Artillery (Technical treatise)”

These are two of the best books of its kind, exclusively dedicated to classical period artillery, for which they are the absolute reference books.

We are lucky enough to own the 1999 reprint of the original 1969 edition, since these books are now hard to find.


As one would expect after so many years, knowledge and science have progressed, and some of Marsden’s interpretations are questioned but is still the basis in which subsequent authors built and it’s where one should start.

Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s The Book of the Crossbow

As the name implies, it’s mostly about crossbows. It has however a delicious final chapter dedicated to siege engines, a complete breakthrough considering that it was written in 1903. It includes a very good series of drawings and pictures, commented with a critical mind (we wish all modern authors were like that).


One can measure its popularity by the fact that facsimile copies are cheap and to find.

Konstantin S. Nossov’s Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons: A Fully Illustrated Guide to Siege Weapons and Tactics

It is a brilliant book, as it brings a fresh view, different perspectives and unpreviously published sources (namely eastern European), as the author had also demonstrated with his more recent (also brilliant) book on gladiators. It really makes some books of anglo-saxon historians look like they are just the same dull copy. If you want one reference book, get this one.

J.G. Landels’ Engineering in the Ancient World

Very interesting book about classical general engineering, as it focuses on a number of points not mentioned by most other authors. It gives you a sense of admiration for the classical Greek and Roman engineers. Not many pictures, some diagrams. Chapter 5 is dedicated to catapults. As Marsden’s, it’s a basic, fundamental book.

Dick Parry’s Engineering the Ancient World

A nice edition, extremely well illustrated with pictures, covering most of the usual features (hydraulics, fortifications, architecture…) and not just about the Mediterranean basin (but mostly). Nothing about catapults, though.

L.Sprague De Camp’s The Ancient Engineers

The author is better known for writing some sci-fi and fantasy books, but in this volume his passion and admiration for the engineers of the past really stands up. It has pictures and diagrams (but not a lot) but it’s a good read, not overly technical or full of jargon.

Paul Bentley Kern’s Ancient Siege Warfare

Starting in the earliest known sources in Mesopotamia and stretching until the Roman Empire. Not much in the manner of illustrations but is a serious and thoughtful book with a lot of detail on each epoch’s treatment of the captures cities.

Duncan B. Campbell’s Besieged: Siege Warfare in the Ancient World

It’s a wonderfully edition profusely illustrated in color. Although the book it has nothing new in the way of science or history, it’s a good overall review and introduction the theme.

Jim Bradbury’sThe Medieval Siege

The author has a bit of a thick, boring writing style, as his other book on archery also shows. It’s a standard book; it delivers but doesn’t grip you. The staple black & white images, diagrams and pictures can be seen in a number of other books. 

John Norris’ Medieval Siege Warfare

Another standard book, that delivers but feels a bit hollow. The same sources and examples can be read in a number of other books.  One can’t help thinking that wouldn’t be amiss a bit more of historical accuracy and criticism: some of the artillery pieces presented is just fantasy, as Nossov’s book (and Payne-Gallwey’s!) points out. Its worth for the nice re-enactment pictures, including a bunch of colour plates.

  Martin Windrow’s The Great Sieges

It’s interesting as it encompasses more than 2000 years of siege history, from the classical Greek period until the XXth century. A very nice edition with some schematics, but not many pictures.

Christopher Duffy’s  Siege Warfare: Fortress in the Early Modern World, 1494-1660”

As modern gunpowder artillery starts making its debut, one can see that although some things change, some stay the same: circumvallation, breaching the walls, mining, sapping, and the treatment of captured cities.

J. Warry’s Warfare in the Classical World: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Weapons, Warriors and Warfare in the Ancient Civilizations of Greece and Rome

It’s a good book in general and it includes a, evolution of artillery in the Roman and Greek worlds. It gives the necessary background for the artillery subject. It sports the artillery science of Marsden and Landels’ books (nothing new, but something solid) and has wonderful colour drawings illustrations.

Peter Connolly’s Greece and Rome at War

Similar in scope and style (wonderful colour drawings) to Warry’s book, but with a totally independent view, as it is proper for a serious historian (some might learn from these two). Not that big on artillery, but the Appendix 2 has some of the finest and better known torsion artillery illustrations.

Vitruvius’ The Ten Books on Architecture

If you feel like going strait to the source, from the 10th Chapter of Book X onwards, this Treaty deals with siege engines, including the description of the components of the arrow-shooters and its proportions.

VegetiusEpitoma Rei Militaris(Epitome of military Science)

A classical book, wrote in the III Century AD in adverse conditions. It describes the use and types of several siege engines. There are a lot of editions available.

William Gurstelle’s The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets and More Ancient Artillery

It’s a fun book, dealing with making toys and models with everyday items, which use the principles of the mentioned siege artillery. Also has very entertaining descriptions of the siege engines throught the ages. A nice light reading.

 And, of course, all the Osprey’s, that are good quick-reference books, with nice illustrations and they have been expanding on the siege theme:



Medieval Siege Warfare
Medieval Siege Weapons 1: Western Europe
Medieval Siege Weapons 2: Byzantium, the Islamic World and India
Siege Weapons of the Far East: AD 612-1300 v.1
Siege Weapons of the Far East: AD 960-1644 v.2
Siege Warfare in the Roman World: 146 BC-AD 378
Ancient Siege Warfare: Persians, Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans, 546-105 BC
Greek and Roman Siege Machinery 399 BC-AD 363
Greek and Roman Artillery 399 BC - AD 363

Articles (papers)

·         Dietwulf Baatz (1978) “Recent Finds of Ancient Artillery

·         Werner Soedel and Vernard Foley (1979) “Ancient Catapults

·         V.G. Hart and M.J.T. Lewis (1986) “Mechanics of the Onager

·         Paul E. Chevedden, Les Eigenbrod, Vernard Foley and Werner Soedel (1995) “The Trebuchet

·         John Anstee (1998) “’Tours de Force’ an experimental Catapult/Ballista”

·         Paul e. Chevedden (2000) “The Invention of the Counterweight Trebuchet: A Study in Cultural Diffusion

·         Eliseo Gil, Idoia Filloy and Aitor Iriarte (2000) “Late Roman military equipment from the city of Iruña/Veleia

·         Alan Wilkins (2000) “Scorpio and cheiroballistra

·         Donald B. Siano (2001) “Trebuchet Mechanics

·         Aitor Iriarte (2003) “The Inswinging Theory

·         Current World Archaeology (2003) “Roman Artillery - The archaeology of a Roman technological revolution: the cheiroballistra





Lancaster Armory(


Roger Lankford is a friend and its weapons and armour are the best, being almost unbreakable.

That approach of keeping the looks but going for modern engineering materials to provide the safest possible tool, is dear to Cerco21’s hearts.



Knights's Armoury(


Kurt Suleski’s site seems to be around since forever, but now has a DNS name, not just the number-dot-number address. It inspired a lot of people to build siege engines and he’s webpage has a lot of content, namely pictures and construction directions.




·         Espada Lusitana

·         Federação de Esgrima (2)

·         Federação Arqueiros e Besteiros