An English schoolboy digging a hole in his family’s yard unearthed an eight-pound cannonball dating back more than 350 years to the English Civil War.
Jack Sinclair, 10, of Southwell, Nottinghamshire, continued tunneling after his father had dug down to remove a tree root and the lad came across what he at first thought was a rock.
Further work revealed that it was bigger and denser, and when Jack pulled it from the ground he had a heavy, rusty, muddy lump.
“His mother was concerned that it might be an unexploded bomb from World War II, but when they cleaned off the dirt, they saw it was an iron cannonball,” according to The History Blog.
Jack’s grandfather researched the artifact and took it to the nearby Museum Resource Centre in Newark, where experts verified with 90 percent certainty that it is a 17th century cannonball used during the English Civil War.
Its weight and dimensions suggest it was shot from a saker cannon, a medium-caliber long-range cannon widely used in the early 16th century and 17th century, according to The History Blog.
The find strengthens Southwell’s strong links with the 1642-51 conflict.
On this date in 1667 English writer John Milton sold the copyright for Paradise Lost for the seemingly insignificant sum of £10.
Even more galling in retrospect, given that Paradise Lost is now considered one of the greatest literary works in the English language, is that Milton didn’t even get all his money up front.
He received £5 outright and a further £5 to be paid each time a print run of between 1,300 and 1,500 copies sold out, as the blog Armchair Anglophile points out.
Given that Milton died in 1674 as a second edition was being planned, he therefore reaped but one extra payment of £5.
In fairness, that’s worth a total of about £15,000 today, but given that millions of copies of Milton’s book have been printed over the centuries, it still seems like a paltry sum.
The Toronto Globe and Mail called Milton’s rendering of the Fall of Man “the greatest epic poem in the English language, the anvil of words on which every subsequent poem has been forged, the only contender to Shakespeare’s greatness, (and) quite possibly the most profound meditation on good and evil ever written.”