Hoping for some info


#1

Hi guys - I’ve recently recovered some cartridges with the headstamp K C VI - I’ve no real background in ammunition (the finds were from an archaeological excavation), but so far I’ve managed to work out that they are star-crimped .303 rounds, probably Kynoch (based on various identification pages on the web).
If anyone has time could they answer two or three basic questions:

  • what does the K C VI refer to (Kynoch/Cordite/Mark VI?) and does that imply any particular date range
  • what is the purpose of star-crimping and does it imply the round has been fired
  • is there any blindingly obvious comment that should be made when you see a star-crimped casing with a headstamp ‘K C VI’?
    Feel free to be as patronising as possible with your answers…

John


#2

These are blank cartridges for training that only produce the sound effects of live ammunition. You are right about “K C VI”. It is “Kynoch, Cordite, Blank mark 6”. These are pre-1908, as no British made .303 Cartridges made before 1908 were date stamped. They were made between 1907 and 1908 as Mk VI blanks made before 1908 had a brass mock bullet that was a separate piece to the case, which was dropped because there were deats resulting from this actually firing. These would have also had the case chemically blackened. So, the overall information on these cartridges is:

Cartridge SA (small arms) .303 Inch Blank Mark 6, Made by Kynoch, Birmingham, England between 1907 and 1908.

I hope this is what you were looking for. Are you willing to say roughly where these were found?


#3

Thanks for that Falcon.

They were found during some trial excavations (which are ongoing) at a hilltop enclosure in County Wicklow in Ireland (which may be a Late Bronze Age hillfort, but proving that was the purpose of the excavation - and that has not yet become clear).
The site is about 20 miles from the former Kynoch factory in Arklow.
There were around 15 of these cartridges in the base of a pit which was dug into the ditch of the hilltop enclosure. As they were blanks and disposed of in this way, it suggests an intention to conceal them that might be indicating illegal weapons training, probably by the IRA and dating to the period of the Irish Civil War or War of Independence (maybe 1918-1923).

John


#4

[quote=“jjconeill”]Thanks for that Falcon.

They were found during some trial excavations (which are ongoing) at a hilltop enclosure in County Wicklow in Ireland (which may be a Late Bronze Age hillfort, but proving that was the purpose of the excavation - and that has not yet become clear).
The site is about 20 miles from the former Kynoch factory in Arklow.
There were around 15 of these cartridges in the base of a pit which was dug into the ditch of the hilltop enclosure. As they were blanks and disposed of in this way, it suggests an intention to conceal them that might be indicating illegal weapons training, probably by the IRA and dating to the period of the Irish Civil War or War of Independence (maybe 1918-1923).

John[/quote]

These IRA folks would have had little use for blanks. If they did obtain them they may have just thrown them away as you found them.


#5

I suppose there are many reasons they could have been buried there, eg. someone who wanted to sispose of them, kids putting them there etc. I still think the idea of illegal weapons training in a remote area could perhaps be a viable explanation. Would there be any chance of me having one of these for my collection? I do not have that blank or headstamp, and they may have a bit of history to them. What sort of condition are they in?


#6

Legally, all finds from archaeological excavations in the Republic of Ireland are the property of the National Museum of Ireland (and the landowner is the state in this case as well), so unfortunately it isn’t in my gift to send you one. Sorry about that. They were found in the last couple of days and have barely been cleaned - they are covered in copper alloy corrosion products and I can only read the complete headstamp on two or three.


#7

No problem, I understand. Is there anything that separates an archaeological find from something old but unrelated to the site? Just wondering, as does this mean that absolutely anything dug up is an “archaeological find”.

There may possibly be some other headstamps if you clean them. These are legal as live rounds as far as they know as they are blanks.

Do you have to report any possible IRA weapons caches, no matter how small, to the police? However these are so old I think anyone official who had a problem with them would would be wasting their time.


#8

All archaeological excavations in Ireland must be carried out under a licence issued jointly by the National Museum and Department of Environment. While all ‘archaeological objects’ become property of the state (unlike the UK system), and there are some nuances in how people define what should be considered an ‘archaeological’ object, all finds on a licenced excavation are considered as such.

As to reporting an IRA weapons cache to the police - if it was recent it would be an issue, I suppose, since I would then be in illegal possession of viable ammunition and weapons, as it is historical, I think it isn’t a problem.


#9

These most likely ended up there after being used (if fired) or brought along for use in, some sort of ceremonial function (e.g.- commemoration of a patriotic event, funeral services for a nearby burial) or perhaps in connection with a sham battle or training exercise involving local troops/militia/cadet corps. Although clearly made circa 1908, ammunition stocks remain on hand and can be used many years later- 30-50 years is not uncommon.
At some point the line is crossed between archaeological artifacts to be preserved, and “litter” which ought to be removed.


#10

Are these live rounds or fired? In the UK I’m not too sure what the laws are on archaeological items, but I know items such as gold coins are legally crown property, no matter who owns the land they are found on or has permission to dig there. I believe there is also a law stating “artefacts of major historical importance” or something similar are government property.

As for ammunition stocks, I still regularly shoot .303 British ball ammo made by FN in 1952 (with a few misfires). I recently shot some blanks made by RG and RL in 1943, all fired perfectly as they would have the day they were made. Due to our restrictive UK laws I own no guns, I have to use guns owned by the club.


#11

I would think it is just as likely that these were cartridges that someone was simply disposing of, either because they thought they were dangerous to keep around the house or perhaps were illegal to possess. That’s exactly how I get rid of unwanted ammunition.