10 Archaeological Finds That Alter History

9. Roman Terror Weapons


A recent discovery suggests that the Romans employed psychological warfare using whistling slingshot bullets. They used a staff sling called a fustibalus which could throw lemon-sized rocks over a long distance. But certain bullets found at one site in Scotland have a peculiar characteristic—they are drilled through their center.

The stone bullets were found at Burnswark Hill, the site of a massive fight between Romans and Scots about 1,800 years ago. Drilling the holes would have been a time-consuming endeavor, especially for something used only once.

Archaeologist John Reid was puzzled by the stones’ purpose. But Reid’s brother, a keen fisherman, deduced the purpose of the bullets based on his experience of using holed-out lures. When thrown, the bullets caused a sharp whistling noise. Only small stones were drilled, so multiple bullets could be thrown at once, creating a stereo effect for added terror.

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