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Cannon with a tale to tell

The rare bronze cannon which is being auctioned.

The rare bronze cannon which is being auctioned.

A rare and historic cannon which used to sit outside a north Northumberland castle is to be auctioned next month.

The gun is among 37 lots belonging to north Northumberland man, the late Eric Purvis, which will appear in Holts Auctioneers’ next London sale on Thursday, September 18. The sale estimate is £8,000 to £12,000.

Made for the Khedive Ismail in Egypt, it is a 3.5-inch rifled muzzle-loading bronze cannon, manufactured in 1864-5 by the Turkish especially for the Egyptian army.

The army was completely destroyed and massacred at El-Obeid, just south of Khartoum, with more than 10,000 officers and men were killed in the engagement, and the captured guns were taken into the service of the Mahdi – a religious leader.

In 1898, just prior to the decisive battle of Omdurman, Kitchener attacked the Mahdi’s son’s army at Atbara River, causing more than 6,500 casualties and recaptured the guns.

This actual gun was captured by Lt (later Lt Gen) William Sitwell at Atbara. Sitwell states in his later book, A History of Barmoor, how the cannon made it back to England.

It then resided outside on the lawn of Barmoor Castle until 1958 when it was loaned to the Northumberland Pistol Club and used by them for numerous demonstration shoots.

The wheels and carriage were renovated in 1959 and in 1964 it was purchased from William Sitwell by Mr RH Walton, who subsequently willed it to Eric Purvis.

 

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