Musket, 1588. Museum no. M.948-1983

Musket, 1588. Museum no. M.948-1983

Musket
England
1588
Steel; wooden stock inlaid with engraved staghorn
Length 159 cm x Width 14.2 cm (maximum, stock) x Depth 5.5 cm (maximum, stock)
Museum no. M.948-1983
Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund

The large musket is a type of gun that was popular with captains of trained bands in late 16th-century England. Large muskets of this length were invariably used with forked rests to support their great weight.

This musket belonged originally to Sir William Harris of Shenfield House, Margaretting, Essex, who married into the Raymond family in the early 17th century. A staghorn panel on the butt (end) of the musket bears the date 1588. As a result this group of firearms and flask have been known as the Armada relics.

The stock (the wooden support for the barrel by which the gun is held) is inlaid with a staghorn panel engraved with the initials 'RI' and 'DI' for two craftsmen with the same surname who worked on it. The panels in the stock are engraved with motifs found on contemporary engravings and textiles. The locks and barrel were almost certainly originally damascened (inlaid) in gold and silver, as is the accompanying wheel-lock (a system of ignition operated by a revolving wheel). Surviving English 16th-century firearms are very rare.