With the advent of firearms, skirmishing became a popular tactic, but soldiers complained that it was almost impossible to sneak up on the enemy with a lot of little metal flasks clanging together on your chest.

A selection of apostles from the wreck.  They hung from a bandoleer across the chest and each contained enough powder for one charge

A selection of 'apostles' from the wreck. They hung from a bandoleer across the chest and each contained enough powder for one charge

25 intact, semi-intact or fragmented ‘apostles’ were recovered. These were used to contain a single charge of powder for a musket. The amount of powder in a charge was critical; too much and the weapon might be damaged, or backfire into the eye of the shooter; too little and the shot would lose range and accuracy. In a firefight there was not time to measure out the precise amount of propellant, so musketeers usually prepared a number of charges in advance which they hung in small flasks from a bandoleer across the chest. Often these numbered twelve, hence the name ‘apostle’.

The apostles from the wreck were all cut from copper alloy sheeting and joined along their seams with lead/tin solder. Their bodies were of truncated form on base-discs of 27-30 mm diameter. Caps were pill-shaped with diameters of approximately 16 mm. Eyes were applied to the cap and body to take the cord from which they were hung. Heights ranged from 86 to 106 mm. One apostle (496) was stamped with palmettes and pyramidal arrangements of three small circles. Some of the apostles contained a few grams of a back substance and several smelt of saltpetre, an ingrediant of gunpowder.

For additional discussion see Monaghan and Bound, 2001, A Ship Cast Away About Alderney, 95 – 98.

Artefact index: 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 126, 127, 128, 129, 496, 510, 511, 579 and 1200.

Also, x-rays reveal a yet unnumbered example in a concretion currently in conservation that contains two triangular, wooden powder flaskes.