Sheets of lead with “fingers” were used to cover the touch hole of a cannon, protecting the powder and the fuse from water spraying into the gun ports. Lead is malleable and could be formed to the shape of the cannon barrel, while the fingers could be bent to create a tight fit around the breech of the cannon. A hole on either edge of the apron would fit a lash to keep the apron tied in place.
Many of the cannon aprons from Queen Anne’s Revenge also have a variety of marks carved into them, the most obvious are “wigglework” M’s or W’s and etched arrows. These marks appear similar to those carved into timbers in 17th and 18th century English homes, called “apotropaic” symbols, meant to protect the residents from witchcraft.
For more information, see Aprons of Lead.
Updated 03/14/18 Courtney Page