Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

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r33nact0r
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby r33nact0r » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:24 am

By the way, bodkin arrowheads were specifically designed for use against maille. Against good quality plate armour at battle distances - 100 - 300 yards, they were quite useless. They might be of some use close up against poor quality armour, or thin plate.



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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Langley » Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:14 pm

A rate of shooting does not imply keeping it up - there were indeed a lot of arrows at Azincourt - the preparations for the adventure had been going on for 5 years before they left but they would indeed have all been used up in minutes. Howeve, if I were commanding a body of arcehrs I would want to know that faced with a cavalry charge they could work at that rate for the time it took to reduce the enthusiasm of the cavalry. I also think archers shot both "clout" and close to flat depending on the range. Did not Earpingham get the archers to drop a volly short of the French who then thought they were out of range and could move up a bit without danger. Oops - wrong! That does suggest clout shooting at maximum (nearly) range.Way back when I was learning to shoot from Tony Harcourt of Beaufort Foresters, he told me that there would be bundles of "livery" arrows dropped at your feet by boys from the supply train but you would have with you a set of your own arrows cut to your own lenght and which you would have practiced wiht and these were your sniper rounds in effect. This is why it is a bad idea to open your visor to get some oxygen. If Henry V got one at the angle described it could be that he was either hit by a dropping shaft or that he was bending forward to look at something lower down and took a flat one so unfortunately I don't think we can draw many conclusions from his wound. I have always heard the "you have to be able to shoot 12 per minute to earn your pay as an archer" but I am not sure of the provenance. Can anyone enlighten me on that? I had got to the point of not questioning it...



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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Langley » Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:20 pm

Oh - and to all those I have insisted crescent arrow heads were for wildfowl over the year. Apologies. I had based that on a study of paintings in the Prado in Madrid where there are a lot of hunting scenes. I had heard there was on in the Burrell in Glasgow showing crescents being used for deer but thought that might have been an abberation. I just had another visit to the Prado and there is a deerhunt painting there I missed last time. They are using crossbows but there are crescents in use. Interestingly, the hunters may be arranged in pairs, one with broadhead and one with crescent. That pairing intrigues me. As for broadheads in war - they are meant for large animals. Maybe they were used as anti-tank rounds would be today?



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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby EnglishArcher » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:21 pm

I have always heard the "you have to be able to shoot 12 per minute to earn your pay as an archer" but I am not sure of the provenance. Can anyone enlighten me on that? I had got to the point of not questioning it...


This one does the rounds so often it might as well be true.

In the last 2 years I've yet to find any period evidence for this 'fact'.

There is a reference in "Agincourt" by Juliet Barker p317 (of the paperback version) where she seems to imply that the exchequer records for 6 October 1415, 2nd financial quarter state that four of the 300 archers in the retinue of the Duke of York were struck off because they were not able to shoot the required 10 arrows per minute.

However, I went on to the 'Soldier in Later Medieval England' database and it says the following:

The process of raising armies in England was highly bureaucratic and driven by the Exchequer with their obsession for accounting for monies being spent. Forces were raised by indenture (a contract), which specified size, rank, length and location of service. The expeditionary force was subject then subject to muster and review. Thus the muster rolls themselves are annotated with soldiers who have not turned up for service or who have not 'passed muster', deaths, promotions and replacements.

[My emphasis in bold]

I wonder if the Duke of York’s archers were struck off for not passing muster, and from that Barker has assumed that 10 arrows a minute was the standard for passing muster.

In my limited experience financial rolls do not contain detailed information like what constitutes 'failing' a muster - for example the number of arrows to be shot in one minute. Such information has no bearing on the problem, from an accountant’s point of view - that is, who gets paid, etc.

I would have liked a reference for this 'fact' from Barker, but none is cited.

Perhaps someone with access to the said records (and more time on their hands than me!) can confirm / deny what is actually written. If this is confirmed it would be the first conclusive evidence of the 'mythical 12 arrows'.


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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Man from Coventry » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:40 pm

I’ve joined this somewhat late (due to having to keep my nose to the grindstone with the day job).

A lot of the topics discussed here have been included in a previous thread on the Forum, which is still available “lacquering leather armour (has become Archer vs Armour)” and which is well worth a read. Also I’d strongly recommend the following books to anyone interested in these topics;
1. Secrets of the English Warbow – Hugh Soar, Mark Stretton et al.
2. The Great Warbow - Hardy & Strickland
3. Longbow - Robert Hardy
4. The Knight and the Blast Furnace – Dr Alan Williams.

12 Arrows a minute – This hoary old chestnut comes up yet again. Like English Archer I can’t find this anywhere in contemporary accounts. My understanding, but I can’t remember where this came from, is that it was deduced from modern tests with lightweight bows in the 1960’s. Those that shoot today with heavy (~140lb bows), struggle to shoot a such rates for more than 1.5 mins. This does not preclude shooting at a rate of 12 arrows a minute (for a shorter duration than a minute),i.e a brief rapid shooting burst say whilst receiving a charge, but that it would not be used for sustained shooting.

The other question that has always puzzled me is how would they have timed this to the precision of a minute, given the limited availability of accurate clocks (particularly in proximity to a shooting ground) – a sand timer ? Its more likely IMHO that to pass muster you would be observed by a knowledgeable Commissioner of Array or his advisors and a subjective judgement of your ability would be made.

“By the way, bodkin arrowheads were specifically designed for use against maille. Against good quality plate armour at battle distances - 100 - 300 yards, they were quite useless. They might be of some use close up against poor quality armour, or thin plate”

Bodkin arrowsheads have been in use since at least Roman times, whilst certain types of bodkin and there are many variants are good mail penetrators, other forms from the available modern trials (short/medium lozenge cross sectioned bodkins) are also the most efficient penetrators of plate (see 1). Against most plate, any arrow regardless of head type is unlikely to penetrate plate torso or head armour at the above ranges by the time of the WOR. However armour on the limbs is thinner, most plate armours have areas protected by mail and there is the chance of lucky hits to exposed parts of the body- notably the face Henry V (Shrewsbury), James IV (Flodden), Lord Dacre (Towton). Also until the introduction of improved smelting techniques and the introduction of plate munition armours in the early 1500’s, very few individuals would have worn full plate on an English Battlefield. Full plate is grossly over-represented within re-enactment (certainly in my own period WOR), the vast majority would have been vulnerable to some degree at longer ranges.

Its not impossible that Broadheads would have been present on the battlefield, hunting tools would have been used by the poor as weapons and they would be very effective against horse, but I suggest that they would have been used extremely sparing against certain targets, in small quantities - as such you might have a few in your belt, but never bagfuls of them. Broadheads are expensive to make in both time and materials compared to a bodkin.
I would therefore expect an arrow bag to be suited to carrying the best general purpose battlefield arrow, which can be manufactured in the shortest time – a short bodkin.

Crescent Heads – Modern trials (see 1) suggest that the crescent head is more effective against wildfowl than other arrows, it’s almost as good as a broadhead against larger game. As such having such an arrow on the string, would allow you take advantage of any game that you might stumble on. Alternatively the scene described earlier which shows both broadheads and crescentheads could be a “general” depiction of hunting.

Type 16’s Commonest – Again another legend of unknown provenance. Certainly in my limited experience of Battlefield finds, short bodkins have been by far the most common.


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Man from Coventry
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Man from Coventry » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:12 am

and a bit more;

Towton Head – The Towton Head (as depicted by Hector Cole – I’ve not seen any of the originals, so cannot comment on whether Hector's reconstruction is accurate) is not a conventional bodkin but is closer to a leaf shape, it also bears a resemblance to a Tudor Bodkin (also on display on Hectors website), in that it has a thin flat cutting edge (possibly a steel sliver) supported by central spine and it may be a pre-cursor to this type. The cutting edge whilst wider than a traditional bodkin has a smaller X-sectional area than a Type 16.

To my knowledge only a handful of arrowheads has been analysed metallurgically, certainly nothing to compare with metallurgical analysis of plate armour (see ref 4) above, which shows wide variation in quality, so I think its dangerous to draw far-reaching conclusions that as the Type 16 that has been tested is steel and the Bodkins were not, that this is true for all arrowheads of thesetype. From a visual inspection of arrowhead founds that I have seen, the majority appear to have been iron, but two show clear signs of case hardening.


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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:20 pm

From reading the posts it seems clear to me that, despite the advances in archeology and related sciences, we still know very little about the medieval world.

However, just to add to the mix - If we think of today's archers, we have those who are average, those who are good and those who are excellent. If the same was true of the past, then is it possible that those archers who were of 'excellent' quality were used as 'sniping' units, getting closer to the enemy and deploying a variety of different heads (including the likes of broadheads etc) against their targets? After all, what military commander worth their salt would not use any resource that could possibly give a tactical advantage to his own side? If this were to be the case, then it might explain why so few other types of arrow heads have been found other than bodkins (which would be used en-masse by the rank and file archers), and also how perhaps some shots that seemed 'lucky' ones at the time might not have been, but rather precison shots by very skilled men!



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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby PoD » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:24 pm

John Waller wrote:Found a pic of it here along with some nice bracers.One of my pet hates is the use of huge laced up 'gutter' bracers by re-enactor archers.

http://leatherworkingreverend.wordpress ... 5/testing/


I have just made an archery bracer modelled on the Mary Rose Museum ones pictured in that link and also the one in the British Museum (AN464658001).

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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Mark Griffin » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:53 pm

By the way, bodkin arrowheads were specifically designed for use against maille


always smirk when I hear/see that.

Designed by who? Did they have a design committee or hire an expensive consultant? Any proof that this 'modern' kind of thought process and methodology was applied to working out what shapes of arrow heads were dreamt up. Love to see the evidence for this.

and here is a good link for a discussion on earlier types. Notice the single barbed ones, v interesting

http://www.kelticos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1069

and note there are some early bodkin types too. Which the celts designed to use against mail :?

I'm being a bit pedantic and I've mentioned this before, just seems a strange way of describing it and, dare I say it, a bit of a reenactorism.

This is a great thread btw, good stuff!


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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Tomsk » Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:18 pm

Wedge shape medieval harrow pic:
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/MEDharrow.htm

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The Peddler
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby The Peddler » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:28 pm

I'm sure i've seen an illustration somewhere of an archers bag (basically a wicker frame covered with a canvas cover) tied to the gunwhale of a ship and therefore ready to be used. Circa about 1300, but not sure if these would be used on land....i'll look for the diagram.




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