A closeup of a hand holding a dark-coloured ball.

Photo Credit: Mike Kelly / Facebook

Rrrrrr Matey, There Be Pirates

What in the heck is this?

Rockhounds took turns guessing what this could be

Folks in the Vancouver Island Rockhounds Facebook group had a bit of mystery on their hands. Mike Kelly, a member of the group, found a heavy metal ball in his garden.

Mike’s first thought? Pirates. This must be a cannonball from a pirate ship.

His guess might not be far off. But folks in the group came in with a few guesses of their own.

British cannonball

The British and other European navies used to shoot cannonballs along the bluffs near Comox. Some folks said the navies used the cedar trees as target practice. But navies also shot cannonballs at people.

The Terror of the Coast by Chris Arnett tells the story of how the British gunboat HMS Forward attacked the Penelakut who lived on what was then called Kuper Island. The Penelakut beat the British in that battle.

The British were not happy about being beaten so badly. They staged a whole military operation up and down eastern VanIsle, which helped form the Province of British Columbia.

Could this cannonball be an artifact from that operation?

Ore grinder ball

Balls like this were used in ore grinders and milling machines. There were lots of these in the Comox Valley area around the turn of the 20th century.

If this is a grinding ball, it may be made of crude iron from England or Wales. Ships from Britain would use mining balls as ballast coming over to VanIsle, and then fill up with coal or rocks to go back.

Some folks thought balls for a ball mill would be smoother. But the ball may have been buried for a hundred years, which could have caused the pits.

Ripe avocado

Lots of folks said this looked like lunch!

Though it’s definitely made of metal, the ball looks like an avocado that is either perfect inside or totally rotten. It’s hard to know with an avocado.

What do you think this ball is?