Triple barrel cannon by Leonardo Da Vinci. In Benkovac?

I love when I find or just hear about something quite rare. Although it will be in the news soon – as the exhibition on Klicevica opens tomorrow – this is a fairly first report on this interesting triple barrel cannon.

Triple barrel canon
Triple barrel canon

I first heard about this canon few months back while hanging out with my friend who is an antiques dealer and he pointed out that there was a wonderful curiosity found at the local museum of small town of Benkovac. The area surrounding Benkovac is the oldest inhabited area in Dalmatia and there are numerous important discoveries yet to be made. But there are already so many interesting places and findings that make this area very interesting for everyone into history and archaeology. Sites like Asseria, Karin, Klicevica… are all very important sites of our history!

In poor shape...
In poor shape...

This canon has been made of bronze and it is now in poor shape as it, apparently, exploded on one occasion when it was used. Whoever was nearby, did not live too long to tell what happened… There are numerous findings of “bullets” or projectiles this and other canons of the time used. Klicevica Fortress was a border fortress at the time when the Turks started their advance in this area. It was heavily armed but never thoroughly explored. This canon was found in 1968 by a group of kids and donated to the museum only after the 90s war. Even then, no one quite knew the history of this canon…

The projectiles of the 15th and 16th century found in Klicevica
The projectiles of the 15th and 16th century found in Klicevica

Triple barrel cannons are quite a rare find in Europe and no one knows the exact history of this canon. The best guess is the drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci in his Codex Atlanticus. Leonardo designed numerous military weapons and equipment as he lived at the times of serious wars between the North Italian city-states. However, there is not a single record that a canon like this was ever made. Until now…

History of Leonardo's canon
History of Leonardo's canon

The cannon on the drawings and the model from the museum in Milan strongly resemble the Klićevica cannon. Almost all elements, despite “our” cannon being so terribly damaged, are there. It is most likely that the canon was made in Italy (well. there was no Italy at the time…)  and then brought to Dalmatia by the Venetians who ruled the area back in those days.

We don’t know if Leonardo had anything to do with this cannon but it definitely looks like it!

If in the area, Benkovac museum is worth stopping at as there are some quite interesting findings and the local curator is very knowledgeable and willing to show all the riches of the area!

More on Leonardo’s canon: and here is the link to the museum:

Contact me if you want to go and visit the canon and the fortress:

I also heard, from a very reliable source, that there is ANOTHER canon just like this one, buried in one man’s garden in Benkovac. But he does not know exactly where he buried it 😉

Travel in Croatia


  1. da Vinci, Benkovac, Dalmacija…neumoran si…a mi usput puno tega naučimo…poz…

  2. to mi je skoro pa u dvorištu. Nego mi je prijatelj javija da ima još jedan! Ali ovaj šta ga je zakopa u ratu nezna di ga je zakopa 😉 eto ti naše povijesti i arheologije

  3. nabavit čemo meteldetektor
    pa gremo tražit…;)

  4. Geoff Smith says:

    Multiple barrel guns are known from even earlier periods c.1450 but this is certainly an interesting and important find. The poor condition of the gun illustrates well why the design failed. The thickness of metal between the barrels is about half the thickness of the rest of the barrel and too thin to withstand firing three charges together.
    The other reason why such designs were not developed is that that the idea of standing in front of two loaded barrels while charging the third was unlikely to be popular with the gunners!
    It would be very interesting if someone could give the calibre

  5. Hi. Thank you for your comments!
    The diameter of each barrel is 3,4 cm so it would be around 133 in caliber. It is 61 cm long.

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