top of page

Cannonballs and pig skulls

Using X-rays for archaeology at Canterbury Christ Church University

A photograph of the cannonball. Some of the exterior was beginning to flake off.


We imaged a cannonball (round shot) that was brought in by Alan Nutten and Louise Richards. The ball, found within Kent, may date to the 17th Century. A key question was whether it was hollow or of variable density. For example, was it a stone encased in lead? Either way, I was doubtful that we would be able to image the item successfully. Despite my initial reservations, we took several images that demonstrate its outline (the low exposure image) and internal composition (high exposure image). Regrettably, there was some image artefact upon the digital detector - potentially due to the weight of the ball. Nevertheless, the overall density of the cannonball seems similar. We cannot tell what the composition of the interior is, but it does not seem to be hollow. Alan and Louise will continue their investigations to identify the age of the cannon ball.

Pig skull fragment

I also spent some time with Carrie Woollard (undergraduate archaeology student) and Dr Ellie Williams imaging some ancient pig skull fragments. The images will be used in Carrie's dissertation, looking into possible trauma to pig skulls from Sudan (~1300BC). Each bone has a small depression which may indicate blunt force trauma, and yet they are well rounded and appear healed? We undertook several images of the bones to see the potential trauma. The bones come from an archaeological investigation which Dr Ellie has been involved in for a number of years. Among other remains, Ellie has investigated goat remains from the ancient site called Amara West. Personally, I found the sinus pattern to be very interesting (bone fragment on the far left).

Her article 'Holey Goats: Multiple Cases of Supratrochlear Foramina in the Humerus of Caprines from the New Kingdom Pharaonic Town of Amara West, Northern Sudan' can be found using this link.

Alas, it is not open access but very interesting none the less.

All images:

James Elliot

Please contact me for usage.

78 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page