A cleanup job at the home of a deceased antique collector turned dangerous when family members found “a suspicious spherical object” that turned out to be an unstable Civil War cannonball.
The discovery was made in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and Massachusetts State Police said the explosive embedded inside ignited during the disposal process.
“Bomb Squad soldiers counter-loaded the cannonball safely,” state police said in a July 14 news release.
“The manner in which the bullet exploded when counter-charged confirmed the Troopers’ suspicions that it was indeed alive and could still have posed a threat.”
Mansfield Police said the explosive find happened on July 7 as the family of a deceased antique collector was cleaning out their Charlene Drive home.
It was described as metallic, about 4 inches in diameter, and badly corroded – classic qualities associated with antique cannonballs.
State Police bomb experts were quickly contacted “to assess” the relic’s threat level.
“Bomb Squad soldiers then took multiple X-rays of the object, which revealed inconsistencies within, indicating that its interior was not a homogeneous material,” state police reported.
“The x-ray image was consistent with cannonballs which have an interior void space filled with any explosive material used by its maker. Based on this finding…they determined the object to be a cannonball from the Civil War era and that he could be alive.
A ‘swift controlled demolition’ was staged at the Mansfield Police Department firing range, and police later apologized to neighbors in the area when the resulting late-night explosion turned out to be loud .
Investigators did not say where the antique collector kept the cannonball in his home.