Siege Ladder, Rome, 537 CE
by Kristen Lindberg '98 and Eliana Sugarman '98
The articulated moveable siege ladder, usually referred to simply as the siege ladder,
is one of a class of weapons used in offensive siege warfare. It is the simplest, and
probably the oldest, of the offensive siege craft. The siege ladder allows attacking
soldiers to cross moats or other blockades around castle walls. From the protected
platform at the top of the rope ladder, soldiers may fire down upon defending soldiers
within the castle. The siege ladder also provided offensive armies with a method of
gaining entrance to a castle without first knocking down the castle walls. The first
documented use of a siege ladder was in 537 CE in Rome. It then disappeared from the
history books for many centuries, reappearing in accounts of the llth Century Crusades.
We hypothesize that siege ladders were used infrequently because of the difficulty involved
in transporting these heavy and bulky vehicles over rough terrain.