By Russell Miller
Gun manufacturers have shown amazing ingenuity in the making of firearms throughout history. Concealed weapons have taken the shape of pocket watches, whip handles, smoking pipes, flashlights, belt buckles, gloves, helmets, shields, and umbrellas. There is even a surviving example of a Spanish flintlock key pistol.
ODDLY ENOUGH … Possibly the weirdest, if not the most dangerous demonstration of hidden weaponry is a set of German tableware made in 1715. Talk about “shooting your mouth off.”
Carlisle Castle in the English county of Cumbria has been a working castle for nine hundred years. Three hundred years ago, after the fall of the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, more than 300 Scots and Irish prisoners were brought and held here. The prisoners, tried for treason, were sent South to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Others were sold as slaves. During the summer of 1746, while awaiting trial, as many as 90 people were held in a single dungeon. In desperation for water, many prisoners were reduced to licking the moisture that collected on the vault walls in order to stay alive.
ODDLY ENOUGH … These damp stones were visited so often that permanent tongue grooves were worn into them and can still be seen to this day. They are known as the “licking stones of Carlisle Castle.”
Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper, motorcycle enthusiast, and reference librarian. Currently, he illustrates books for Cody Lundin and Bart King.