Top 10 Greatest Siege Engines

The Top Ten
1 Trebuchet

A truly ingenious upgrade over the existing catapult. Greater range meant the attackers could fire from farther away, and therefore stay out of range of defensive projectiles.

2 Cannon

From a certain perspective, the cannon brought about the downfall of the castle as an effective defensible position. If an attacker had enough gunpowder and shot, they could simply find the range on a particular soft spot of the wall and continue to hammer it with successive shots. Inevitably, the wall would breach, and the attackers could then take the next step in their assault. They could either launch an infantry assault through the breach or continue to barrage the fortification with cannon, but now with an opening to see inside the fortification.

3 Catapult

This engine allowed the attackers to hurl rocks, fire, or other projectiles at the walls and even into the interior of a defensive position.

4 Siege Tower

Used with great effect by Alexander in his siege of Tyre, it gave attackers the ability to gain height and fight defenders at their level, or even above them. More importantly, it allowed them to view the inside of the fortification and to adjust the attack accordingly.

5 Ballista
6 Onager
7 Roman Ram

The Romans, with their well-deserved accolades for improving on existing ingenuity, made the ram into a highly effective siege engine of antiquity. Once devising a covering (a roof) for the ram, the device became a mainstay of castle assault. The device could be enhanced in the field by adding weight to the ram, thereby increasing its kinetic energy.

8 Battering Ram
9 Mangonel
10 Siege Ladder

As long as the attackers could accept some early losses, this form of attack usually proved effective, at least initially. As more attackers kept the defenders occupied with hand-to-hand skirmishes, more attackers made it over the wall and into the enemy's fortification. As any military personnel would agree, having hostiles within your perimeter is not good. This form of attack would prove difficult to maintain over time as effective defensive measures were forthcoming.

The Contenders
11 Bunker Buster

If you've ever seen videos of this highly effective weapon, you'll know how devastating it can be for enemy bunkers, even reinforced modern bunkers. The weapon delivers two payloads: the initial blast to break through the reinforced outer shell of an enemy's bunker, and the secondary blast to vaporize any combatants or equipment therein.

12 Arquebus
13 Fire Arrow

Obviously, these could be lobbed inside defensive positions of antiquity. The fires started within could prove devastating, as the defenders had to focus on the fire and not the attackers outside.

14 Missile
15 Mortar

Same principle as a fire arrow, but with a more modern twist. Explosive charges could now be lobbed within a defensive structure.

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