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"Gabions- how early?" Topic

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Von Trinkenessen16 Jul 2012 1:01 p.m. PST

A question to the experts:
gabions -the wicker baskets full of earth etc, when did they start to appear?
I am working on an Italian wars project with my sons and I am looking for some field defences for cannon etc.Would – 1500 – 1525 be too early for their use?
If so can anyone suggest any alternatives?
Thanks in advance
Guy T

irondog16 Jul 2012 1:24 p.m. PST

No They were the first form of "sandbag"

Malatesta150016 Jul 2012 1:25 p.m. PST

Maximillians "Der Weisskunig" is dated c.1515 and shows many engravings with Gabions being used in assaults on town walls.

vexillia16 Jul 2012 2:18 p.m. PST

If your project is in 15mm then don't forget the Baueda gabions:



Available in the UK from

Martin Stephenson
Vexillia Limited: Wargames Miniatures & Accessories

14Bore16 Jul 2012 3:42 p.m. PST

Look back on TMP about making your own. I made a few and am very happy with them.

Mr Pumblechook16 Jul 2012 3:50 p.m. PST

One thing to remember, before the industrial revolution (spinning jenny, power-looms) cloth was very expensive. Before machine made cloth, no-one would waste it on making bags for dirt.

Early morning writer16 Jul 2012 8:52 p.m. PST

good question, I have a vague memory of seeing them associated with classical romans, but not sure…checked google and found:

The ancient Roman architectural invention was reconsidered by Italian engineers in the middle of the 20th century, and was eventually brought to perfection by the German. The word "gabion" is descended originally from the Italian "gabbione" meaning "big cage". The cylindrical "cages" filled with sand and soil were first used for military purposes in the 16th century (16th century photo). Later on, by the use of the stone-filling, the gabions were used to protect against erosion.

so, yes, roman, but apparently later military application…didn't know about their extensive civil use over time, including now

Patrice17 Jul 2012 1:47 a.m. PST

One thing to remember, before the industrial revolution (spinning jenny, power-looms) cloth was very expensive. Before machine made cloth, no-one would waste it on making bags for dirt

Yes whereas all people in the countryside did know how to make wattle fences (for farming activities), it was cheap: they had small trees and branches growing on every earth bank to make them. A gabion only is a circle wattle fence.

Gabions became very useful when the artillery developped. A main threat of cannon balls was not only the cannon ball itself, but also the stones projected in all directions when the ball hit the ground. To be on stony ground when fired upon by artillery was terrible. You needed soft earth around you for the cannon balls to bury in, so a lot of gabions.

Sysiphus17 Jul 2012 12:28 p.m. PST

Yes, there are some nice ones along the road through NJ. Stone and mesh two levels high. They are impressive.

Angel Barracks19 Jul 2012 2:03 p.m. PST

I used to design retaining walls with them a century ago for a short period of time.

OMG how old are you??

smolders20 Jul 2012 9:04 a.m. PST

@ Vex

thanks for the link, I've been trying to find just that for months!!!!

smolders20 Jul 2012 9:06 a.m. PST

@ Angel

HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH!!!!! Thas very very funny (illustarted by my avoidance of using the standard 'LOL' or 'LMAO')!!!

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