Arrow baskets

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Jim Smith
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Arrow baskets

Postby Jim Smith » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:23 pm

This has been discussed before, only the conversation drifted away into a debate on the most commonly used type of arrow head in war.

What I'm trying to dig out is evidence for how commonly used the linen covered wicker arrow bag/basket actually was. Those carried by many re-enactors seem a touch unwieldy for the march - and remind me rather of fish/eel traps. Perhaps a smaller linen bag carried at the hip?


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Tod » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:29 pm

I've got a linen one with a leather insert with holes in. I strap it around my waist or sling it over my shoulder. I even sewed a strap to it and its still a pain to use but can't find any thing better. Although I carry blunts in it it would stop me sticking sharps in various parts of my body as I walk around.



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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:02 am

Which has to be a good thing.
If the English way of fighting was largely static, would the issue of an arrow "bag" made of whicker be a big problem?
Mind you my own thought is that you would be given a job lot, use them and then call for more, therefore doing away with the bag completely.
What we need are barrels of arrows and young boys running back and forth from them to the line, maybe?


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Midland Spinner » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:14 am

My understanding is that the baskets were for transport, to stop the arrows being crushed in waggons or on board ship. ISTR that we took 1,000,000 or thereabouts arrows to Agincourt. So baskets to protect the fletchings seem sensible.

Your young boys would probably have found baskets easier to carry than barrels (as would the waggons) as baskets are largely air, not wood ifswim.

For the modern re-enactor Arrow baskets are still a sensible way of protecting the fletchings in transport, but these days it's a transit, not an ox-cart.



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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Nigel » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:56 am

Midland Spinner wrote:My understanding is that the baskets were for transport, to stop the arrows being crushed in waggons or on board ship. ISTR that we took 1,000,000 or thereabouts arrows to Agincourt. So baskets to protect the fletchings seem sensible.

Your young boys would probably have found baskets easier to carry than barrels (as would the waggons) as baskets are largely air, not wood ifswim.

For the modern re-enactor Arrow baskets are still a sensible way of protecting the fletchings in transport, but these days it's a transit, not an ox-cart.


A good theorry Until you realise that the actual things were stored in pipes for bulk transport. Possibly within baskets inside the pipes but I dont honestly know.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Nigel » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:19 pm

A pipe = a form of barrel narrower at the ends than the middle


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Brian la Zouche » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:00 pm

i'd guess the need to know how many arrows did archers carry on their person when on the march ?, would help to understand any method of carrying them. which i take to be the main point of the disscussion,



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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:15 pm

I have only ever "marched" with mine unstrung and in it's bag. By the time I got around to knocking any arrow it would have been a waste of time.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Brian la Zouche » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:08 pm

i wonder if archers in real combat situations would have not done the same ?, which if so it would seem to negate the need for them to carry their own arrows, and of course remove the question of how these were carried

although i would think scouting/ foraging parties ( for want of a better word ) would have included some archers, and again i'd think if used in such a role, they would need arrows readily at hand ( although again i have no idea as to how many arrows each archer would carry, which would also dictate the method of carrying them )

if i recall right most HYW battles were arranged, with the day aggreed on as to when the battle was to take place, which if that was the case there would have been plenty of time for arrows to be distributed from supply wagons etc

i guess some of the problems in re-enactment, are supply of arrows, is it a suprise attack, do people have enough 'lads' to resupply the archers, and the mentality of ''i've made this basket/ bag/ quiver so i'm gonna use it ''

i have seen somewhere ( looking for it again ) a quote that stated archers carried ''two sheafs'' ( 24 ) but i dont recall any mention of if that was common practise. or just for that one instance,.. or in fact as to how reliable the quote is

the problem with the Mary Rose type bags and spacers is that because of the size of blunts, you need to increase the size of hole in the leather spacer, which wont allow you to fit in 24 and keep the spacer and bag dimensions as those recovered,

but the Mary Rose recoverys are at least a 100 years after my prefered period, and as no one can say ''for sure'' if they were just for storage or for being carried, i dont use them ( i also find them quite bulky if slung around the waist, and way too bulky and inaccessable if over the shoulder, if sized for half inch war arrows anyway )

for a re-enacting option i made a linen bag as seen in ( dont laugh ) robin hood ( crowes version ) tied around the waist, even with 2 dozen blunts in its not so bulky, and by adding weight to the closed/ blunt/ head end it prevents your arrows from tipping out over the field

I would dearly love to know for certain historicly how archers carried their arrows, and as to how many on their person, most contempory illustrations i have come accross show about 3 or 4 tucked in their belt

i can imagine that different periods have different thoughts
Last edited by Brian la Zouche on Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Nigel » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:10 pm

My theory for that its worth

arrows bulk transported in baskets inside pipes look at the shape of the basket put two back to back then look at the shape of a pipe

then issued to individuals companies etc by the basket then further issued by the man who would pop them in a bag

please feel free to have a pop as this is interesting me now


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Bittersweet » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:55 am

Isn't it possible that any and all of these methods were used depending on the archer and circumstances. A 'static' battle formation would be easier to supply from stock than archers on the move.
Wouldn't an archer employ any method available to keep his stock of available ammunition at its maximum at all times?


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Brian la Zouche » Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:56 am

ah you mean that they used common sense :D

thats always been my thoughts too,

i have found in re-enacting tho that, several times the wearer / user of a item is justified by their own judgment and thinking of their veiw of common sense, ..

myself included with the ''russel crowe'' arrow bag, as this looks very much like a Mary Rose style bag,although without the spacer, and tied on the waist at the back, after using this i found, if running the arrows tended to tip out fletchings first, so i added a small peice of lead ( i also tried a stone ) at the closed end of the bag, and that seemed to work well,

BUT i can not find this doccumented, which is the case on so much connected with meddy archery, ie people use arrow bags based on the MR finds, yet these finds also show side nocked bows, and so many bows used are front nocked, and use hand grips,

i guess like the poster of this thread i would like to know what they really did,
to me knowing the number of arrows carried on the person, would go a long way to working out how these were carried



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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Merlon. » Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:22 pm

With regards to the bulk transport of arrows
Close Rolls, Edward III: May 1333 wrote:May 26. Tweedmouth.
To the treasurer and barons of the exchequer, and to the chamberlains. Order to cause three tuns full of arrows to be bought and provided without delay, and to be brought and carried to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to be delivered to the keeper of the wardrobe, and the treasurer and chamberlains shall pay the expenses there upon out of the treasury. By K.

Close Rolls, Edward III: July 1359 wrote:July 1. Westminster.
To William de Rothewell, the king's clerk, keeper of the privy wardrobe in the Tower of London. Order to cause all the bows, arrows, bowstrings and winches for stretching crossbows which are in his keeping in the said wardrobe to be packed and placed in chests, quivers, pipes and barrels and sent to Sandwich for the king's passage to parts beyond the sea, and there delivered by indenture to Henry de Sneyth, clerk of the privy wardrobe of the king's household, by which indenture and the present order the king wishes the keeper to have full allowance for the said bows, etc. and for thecosts incurred by him in the premises. By p.s.

A Tun can be a large chest of a barrel of 252 Gallons volume, a pipe is a barrel of 126 gallons volume.

A lot of the links on Karen Larsdatter's site have gone error 404 but the ones below are still relevant for personal storage.
http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server/images/7004963.JPG
http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08100553&E=JPEG&Deb=96&Fin=96&Param=C
http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08100553&E=JPEG&Deb=201&Fin=201&Param=C
http://classes.bnf.fr/phebus/grands/c71_616.htm
http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server/images/7004520.JPG
http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/images/standard/WebLarge/WebImg_000131/3553_1345140.jpg



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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Bittersweet » Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:04 am

Thank you for those. They do all seem to be variations on a theme (apart from the last one which seems to dive off to a different sort of bow and arrow altogether).
Variations on a theme seems reasonable as individuals vay as well as common practice within areas/regions....a bit like dialects in language.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Jim Smith » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:27 am

Yes, many thanks for posting those sources. The ones from Edward IIIs close rolls are especially interesting. The picture sources are too, although they do seem to have a bias for recurve bows. Since these were not generally used further west than Hungary they are not as relevant- although the recurve bowmen portrayed still have arrow quivers by their sides. The Mary Rose finds are also a good (if over-quoted) source. Longbows with a 150lb plus draw weight were found on the Mary Rose but that does not mean that 150lb was a typical draw weight for a WoTR longbowman (as I've heard more than one WoTR re-enactor tell the public).

So I guess we're left with a belt quiver bag with 12 to 24 arrows. Resupply comes from the baggage train.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Bittersweet » Mon Apr 09, 2012 7:24 am

Jim Smith wrote:
So I guess we're left with a belt quiver bag with 12 to 24 arrows. Resupply comes from the baggage train.


Without evidence of anything different, I don't see why this shouldn't be the case. It just seems like common sense.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Brian la Zouche » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:34 am

[quote="Jim Smith"] Longbows with a 150lb plus draw weight were found on the Mary Rose but that does not mean that 150lb was a typical draw weight for a WoTR longbowman [/quote]


OMG finally someone else who doesnt feel the need to ''big up'' longbows :thumbup:



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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby EnglishArcher » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:04 am

Jim Smith wrote:Longbows with a 150lb plus draw weight were found on the Mary Rose but that does not mean that 150lb was a typical draw weight for a WoTR longbowman (as I've heard more than one WoTR re-enactor tell the public).


In the face of an contrary evidence why would you NOT believe 150lb to be a typical draw-weight? We know it's physically possible. We also know from empirical evidence that bows of that weight give an 'optimal' performance for military-spec arrows.

Do you have primary evidence to support lower bow weights from 15th Century Military bows? I would be very interested to hear this. It could revise everything we know.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Hinny Annie » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:06 pm

EnglishArcher wrote:
Jim Smith wrote:Longbows with a 150lb plus draw weight were found on the Mary Rose but that does not mean that 150lb was a typical draw weight for a WoTR longbowman (as I've heard more than one WoTR re-enactor tell the public).


In the face of an contrary evidence why would you NOT believe 150lb to be a typical draw-weight? We know it's physically possible. We also know from empirical evidence that bows of that weight give an 'optimal' performance for military-spec arrows.

Do you have primary evidence to support lower bow weights from 15th Century Military bows? I would be very interested to hear this. It could revise everything we know.



I was under the impression that the Mary Rose sank in 1545, that would make the bows 16th Century ?


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:07 pm

There you go with your dates and things.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Hinny Annie » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:03 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:There you go with your dates and things.


ahh Marcus I am a women after all


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Bittersweet » Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:36 am

The danger of digressing into arguments about bow weights is a bit discourteous to the original poster (so, my apologies to Jim Smith) but I would like to point out that I could kill an unprotected body with a 30lb draw weight bow if I was using the right sort of arrow and was a good target shooter :wink: So, the development of higher weight bows was, presumaly to find the optimum bow weight/arrow/archer for the battle conditions being fought under.
A 'sniper' may use a different bow to a 'massed artillery ranks' archer for example?

To bring this back to Jim's post, the supply of arrows may be affected in the same way...a 'sniper' would carry specific arrows with him (either bagged or stuck in his belt or something), whereas a 'massed ranks artillery archer' may have the arrows stuck in the ground in front of him, ready to pick up and shoot with or in a big basket in front of him?


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby EnglishArcher » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:09 am

Again, where's your evidence for 'sniper archers' with specialist equipment?


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Adam R » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:17 am

English soldiery shot - some would have been better than the norm (retained ones, enthusiasts et al), come war, it is not unreasonable to presume these would pick / be given better kit. Once the hand to hand starts the riff raff may pick up their other weapons as required - or keep their bows on hand to shoot within the melee.

There is no evidence of that of which I am aware, but it fits human nature and the accurate shooting of famed, bevorless nobles...

Just a supposition - but is it less reasonable than the supposition that there were not specialists? :arrow:


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Adam R » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:29 am

Back to Jim's original point: It's interesting that in the typical battle depictions of the time, archers seem to be predominantly shown with no bag/quiver. I know that many aspects of the images beg questions, but if they were a common feature of an archer I would have expected them to be shown as something that was typically "archer-ey", along with their apparently typical clothing/armour et, although not their number or disposition.

I have just done a swift wizz through the usual suspects - are there any contemporary paintings showing arrows anywhere other than stuffed in belts or the ground? (for war I mean, rather than the interesting hunting ones Merlon kindly linked to)


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Jim Smith » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:46 am

Found this one, which I think is of the Battle of Poitiers. I'll have a look for others.
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Battle-poitiers(1356).jpg


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Jim Smith » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:54 am

In the interests of keeping this thread on topic, I've opened a new one on medieval war bow draw weights.


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Adam R » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:43 pm

Jim Smith wrote:Found this one, which I think is of the Battle of Poitiers. I'll have a look for others.


Cool - this one was one I looked at from the usual suspects (ie images from books to hand on the bookshelf :) ) - the archers don't have bags/quivers on them - the sack on the floor might imply that arrows are carried in bulk for groups - rather than individually. The medieval mindset was far less burdened with our desire for individuality I think. I'm seeing it like more modern carrying of anti-tank rounds, the size (in numbers for arrows, rather than individual encumbrance) making their logistics a group endeavour...


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Re: Arrow baskets

Postby Bittersweet » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:44 am

EnglishArcher wrote:Again, where's your evidence for 'sniper archers' with specialist equipment?


I never suggested having evidence...there seems to be a dearth of it anywhere for anything. Just speculation, ideas and some little knowledge of human nature, war, campaigns old and modern, etc.

Actually, pure speculation but isn't that how theories are born so people like you, with better brains for research, etc., can disseminate a theory and prove or disprove it?

Also, I would question "evidence" anyway. just because someone chose to write about something, even at the time, or paint a pretty picture, there's no "evidence" that what they portrayed was accurate or true.


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