Help identifying cartridge

Hi all. I’ve joined just to ask for some help identifying a cartridge that I dug up in my back garden in Hertfordshire UK. I can make out KN14 on the headstamp and also vii. Foes this suggest it was military ammunition made in kings norton in 1914? I knew nothing about cartridges until I dug this up yesterday. I love history and my kids have enjoyed the detective work.

Any help much appreciated.

Welcome aboard.

Pictures would help but my guess would be that you have a .303 British Mark VII Ball made (as you correctly identified) by Kings Norton in 1914. This is definitely a military cartridge.

Thank you @Mayhem for such a quick reply. I have just taken a couple of photos.

Just trying to work out how it could have ended up buried in my garden? All I can come up with is maybe a souvenir from one of the World Wars, although not sure why someone would have a cartridge with no bullet (I didn’t even know the two were separate things until yesterday). Would it make possible that a cartridge made in 1914 would have been used at a later date such as WW2? Could it have been used in anti aircraft guns? I have no idea myself about any of this and I guess that I’ll never know.

Thanks again for your help

Another picture.

The round has been fired (the dent is the primer is from the firing pin of the rifle), so you wouldn’t expect to find the bullet. Depending on what the land your house was on previously, this could be from training exercises. It could also be from hunting (surplus ammunition sold after the war) or it could be a case picked up by someone. Give the round is over 100 years old, there are only two points in its history that are know for sure.

  1. when and where the case was manufactured; and
  2. that you found it in your garden and currently have possession of it.

Thanks again @Mayhem. You make 2 very good points there.

I’ll give it to my 6 year old to take to school once they are back.

Might do a bit more digging. Never know what I might find next.


Welcome to the forum.

Nice find and great story. Lots of history in that empty cartridge case.

Please consider one thing very carefully, do NOT let your 6 year old take this to school. With the “politically correct” thinking now days the empty cartridge case may well be confiscated and your child could possibly be expelled from school. Why all this, because those in charge will very possibly see this empty cartridge case as AMMUNITION and a threat to the school and students. Sad but very possibly true.



Brian is absolutely correct. Taking the empty case to school will almost certainly have undesirable results.

I’m more likely find a horde of potatoes.

Thank you Brian, I didn’t think of that. If she does go ahead I would square it with the Head Teacher first. Thanks though, it wouldn’t have occurred to me as in my brain it’s an old piece of history and not ammunition.

Thanks @Sportclay. Noted.

Brian and Sportclay are absolutely correct. Please do not send that corroded old empty/fired cartridge case to school with your child. It’s a near-certainty that someone in officialdom will have a negative reaction, either out of ignorance or because they will see an opportunity to advance their careers, even at the cost of some sort of traumatic injury to your child.

To me, the chances are very real that someone will call out the bomb squad or cause the school to be surrounded by a couple squads of armed police while saying “see how vigilant I am. I protected us from this vicious little terrorist.”

It could even result in you being on the receiving end of some sort of child endangerment charges.

Thank you for your concern I really appreciate it. Please don’t worry. I was just going to throw it away, but to my 6 year old it’s an exciting dug up treasure from over 100 years ago. I am on first name terms with all of the teaching staff and the head. I have had children at the school for over 12 years. I volunteer at the school in the classroom once a week and I run a club there during lunchtimes. If she was to bring it in for show and tell I would make sure the school was ok with this.

Incidentally my 6 year old decided to wash and polish it yesterday and managed to snap it, so chances are it will be binned if she’ll let me.

I genuinely am touched by everyone’s concern. Great forum.

Soak it in vinegar for an hour, it will look like new.

…and smell old! (smiley)

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Most likely not in this case. It seems that the zinc content of the brass has broken down if the case was fragile enough to break.

I have seen this before with cases that were buried in certain types of soil.

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