Recurve Bows

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Tiddles
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Recurve Bows

Postby Tiddles » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:02 pm

What evidence is there of recurve bows being used in Western Europe in the 9th and 10th century. Ether for sport, hunting or fighting?



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Neil of Ormsheim
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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:55 pm

You can count the pieces of evidence on the fingers of one foot. (i.e. none) Eastern Europe and horse nomads from the steps are OK. Scythians with the Roman army are OK. The first is geographically challenged, the second is temporally challenged. Soz.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:56 pm

Second thoughts - you might find some in Moorish Spain........... Still not here and still not then though.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby haukr » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:02 pm

Hurstwic has a page talking about Icelandic evidence: http://www.hurstwic.org/history/article ... ng_bow.htm

Basically in the 12th and 13th centuries you have references to húnbogi and hornbogi - presumably meaning Hunnish bows and horn bows. Both of which could be recurves?
There's also a find of a possible bow-ring.

So yes. No clear & certain evidence, I certainly wouldn't use one at a public show, but there's some intriguing possibilities...



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Type16 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:26 pm

Hinnie Annie has some new data re Roman recurves in the UK.
Not sure if its for general release, so best PM her directly.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Tiddles » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:31 am

Thank you for the link to the Hurstwic site.
I had a good look around it, fantastic lot of information. Dealing with the actual know facts and the possibility's.
http://www.hurstwic.org/history/article ... t/arms.htm

I will try to contact "Hinnie Annie" about the Roman bows. I know the evidence of a recurve bow was found at Carnuntum now Noricum Austria. It was a large Celtic kingdom of 12 tribes and an important Roman military position.

Certainly the Vikings had contact through trade and conflict withe cultures that used the compound bow.



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:10 pm

Vikings had trade links to India but they didn't ride into battle on elephants! Contact, direct or indirect is one thing - assuming that there was weapons technology transfer is entirely different.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:22 pm

Neil of Ormsheim wrote:Vikings had trade links to India but they didn't ride into battle on elephants!



LENEL Neil, LENEL. :devil:

If the Vikings didn't have elephants, where did Anglo- Saxon ladies get those nice ivory rings that they used for purse mounts eh?


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Fri Nov 04, 2011 3:01 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:
If the Vikings didn't have elephants, where did Anglo- Saxon ladies get those nice ivory rings that they used for purse mounts eh?



Quite simple if you put some thought to it. They got those bits from the left over Roman Elephants.



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Nov 04, 2011 5:08 pm

Of course! Good job there's a roman here to teach us these things.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Fri Nov 04, 2011 5:53 pm

I do believe that the ivory rings in question are from African Elephants.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:08 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:Of course! Good job there's a roman here to teach us these things.



Yup, Illuminating those Dark Age mysteries.



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Tiddles » Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:30 pm

Hinnie Annie is on the case :D

Optio I would appreciate your opinion to help illuminate this dark age mystery 8-)



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:39 pm

Tiddles wrote:Hinnie Annie is on the case :D

Optio I would appreciate your opinion to help illuminate this dark age mystery 8-)



With a serious view to the thread, I would personally (if I were to be attracted to Viking archery) stick to the accepted norm for Britain, so, afaik a longbow type thing, or if you fancy something just a bit different try a replica of one of the Viking Burial find, like a longbow, but with an odd metal ferrule on the bottom (it strings above this fitting) limb, I believe Richard Head has made one or two, they are comparitivly short draw tho (about 24") and appear to be used using a pinch grip style of hold/release.

I personally would only go down the flashy composite road if I were doing Rus or Magyar with kit to suit, but it'd still most probably get you a 'rooster' tag from others on the shooting line, your choice I suppose :wink:

Now, back to Medicus and his Elephant fixation, I agree with Neil, they were def African :)



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Tiddles » Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:14 pm

Optio wrote:if you fancy something just a bit different try a replica of one of the Viking Burial find, like a longbow, but with an odd metal ferrule on the bottom (it strings above this fitting) limb, I believe Richard Head has made one or two, they are comparitivly short draw tho (about 24") and appear to be used using a pinch grip style of hold/release.

I personally would only go down the flashy composite road if I were doing Rus or Magyar with kit to suit, but it'd still most probably get you a 'rooster' tag from others on the shooting line, your choice I suppose :wink:


Hi Optio.

The burial find bow sounds interesting, I will look in to that.
I am trying to do Rus Viking as that is the part of Viking culture that sparks my interest. What or who is Magyar?



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:03 pm

Magyar I suppose is a bit of Rus style cross over, I beleive Nomadic Hungarian sums it up best, but use of recurve bows and similar armour to Mongols etc, tis quite a nice look I have to admit :)

Back to recurve bows, now I'm no expert, but not to long ago I had a good discussion with our amourer, he loves archery, and from what I recall was not totally against recurves, but a bit sceptical for many in Britain (his beef being too many Roman Auxiallarys being equipped with recurves when they are re enacting serving over here, and their primary source for this is reliefs showing auxiallarys in the East), now he does know a bit about this, his main concern is the construction method of period composite bows. It's very very good, but not terribly stable in this climate. As an example, there are recurve bows in palace armories in the middle east that are from the 15C, and they are still usable as the climate is exceptionally arid and the glues used work, however take one to our relativly damp climate and things start to move and the thing loses it's integrity. I think he mentioned that thumb rings have been found, and part of a broken recurve bow over here, but otherwise it's a bit scant.
I have to admit that looking at it from a military perspective, you wouldn't be too happy with something that may break, hence the inherant weakness of a composite bow in an inclemant climate would make it unreliable (think, it would only have to break in a serious situation and you are dead), so using a bow that is similar in construction to what the locals are using (and have developed over generations to be usable and reliable in this clime, namely a self bow) and take this up as the best solution. It's also not impossible to shoot a normal bow with a thumb ring??

Horses for course I suppose, but I think yes, it would be a reasonable talking point at an event, but not being able to quantify it's existence past very limited resourses would be a tad dubious. :D



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:29 pm

Sorry folks but its rant time......AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :headbang:
Please, not more flaming Rus-Vikings!

Just like recurve bows, the evidence for "Rus" traders/Raiders in the UK is next to nil. Yes, goods travel but that does not mean that people travel that far with them. After all, in a modern context, when was the last time you saw a cow being milked in a supermarket? How many traders had the the milk passed through (sorry for that phrasing) before it got to you? Farmer sells to Dairy who sells to Wholesaler who sells to Supermarket who sells to You. Also, the chances of a "Rus" viking being found dressed as most geographically challenged re-enactors want to look are nil. See this thread - viewtopic.php?f=3&t=27217 I hate to pour cold water on some very fancy kit but why oh why would any sensible, business-minded entrepraneur will risk his profit and his neck by risking an extra long journey when they can get a decent enough profit by just stopping at the next market down the road? The only time recorded when people from vaguely that part of Europe ended up here was at the battle of Maldon. And they were Wends from the baltic coast of what is now Germany/Poland.

Rant done. I will go away and hide now.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:33 pm

:D Nice. Rus kit is lovely tho, and girl rus Kit is fab for a roving Roman eye :D As with any era in re enacting, the blingy bits get the most interest.



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Tiddles » Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:04 am

Neil of Ormsheim wrote:Rant done. I will go away and hide now.


Going away and hiding as an excellent idea.

I am not a member of your group and and have no intention of joining it.

Rus Vikings are MY interest, MY passion and its MY hobby that I spend MY money on and MY time doing it.

Reenactors have the unique opportunity to educate and introduce the public to cultures from around the world and from across human history.



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:46 am

Tiddles - I did not mean to offend or upset. Sorry if I did.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Hinny Annie » Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:24 pm

First of all, the original question was "were there recurve bows around in the 9th/10th century in Western Europe?".
Now, "recurve bow" simply describes a shape, without describing materials. We need to distinguish between wooden recurve bows and composite bows (what most replies relate to).

Wooden recurve bows are simply sticks with a recurved bend in the ends. Like a longbow that's got a bit of a funny shape. These bows generally perform better than the 'simple' longbow shape due to the bow geometry. If the bowyer is lucky enough, he finds a suitable piece of wood that already has this natural bend to it and he makes a bow out of it. This sort of recurve would have been around everywhere you had simple wooden bows. it just comes natural with the wood.
If the bowyer finds only straight pieces of wood (now that would be a first!), he can heat-bend recurved ends into the ends of otherwise "normal" longbows. The technology goes back to the stone age where spear-straighteners have been found that were used to heat-straighten wood. To which degree this was done in the 9th/10th century I don't know. Archaeology doesn't help that much either, because over the centuries this artificially introduced bend will straighten out. Maybe a Viking woodworker could help here confirming to which degree this technology was used.

Composite bows, i.e. bows built using a variety of materials (normally horn, wood, and sinew), have been around for around 5000 years. They were generally the bows of the peoples of the steppes of what is now called Eurasia, the Mediterranean, the Roman auxiliaries from the mediterranean.
After a quick look at a map of Europe, i found that the westernmost countries are Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, and Britain.
The Iberian Peninsula certainly saw its share of composite bows: you have the Moorish invasion in the 7th century, and the Kingdom of Granada only fell in 1492. In Southern France you also had a lot of composite bows. The trickier part are the British Isles. Personally, i don't believe that composite bows were ever MADE here, the generally damp climate certainly wouldn't help with curing of the animal based glues. So the answer to the question is Yes they were in the West, if they ended up in this part of the world was until now unknown

Which leads me to the find on Hadrians wall, some months ago a pair of wooden Siyah's were found the, data is still being collected and then the findings will be published I have been promised a copy :). I wont know the date of them until the paper is published, but they are definitely not from a Scythian bow, as Siyahs are from later period bows.

I have been trying to post pictures but all my efforts have failed, so if one of you chaps would like to send me an email address I can send them to perhaps you might have more luck than me

Annie


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:33 pm

Hinny Annie wrote:

The trickier part are the British Isles. Personally, i don't believe that composite bows were ever MADE here, the generally damp climate certainly wouldn't help with curing of the animal based glues. So the answer to the question is Yes they were in the West, if they ended up in this part of the world was until now unknown

Which leads me to the find on Hadrians wall, some months ago a pair of wooden Siyah's were found the, data is still being collected and then the findings will be published I have been promised a copy :). I wont know the date of them until the paper is published, but they are definitely not from a Scythian bow, as Siyahs are from later period bows.

Annie


The Sycthian and Hamian archer auxiallarys are well know, and documented, and they for certain used composite recurves, but never served over here, but not all Roman auxiallaries were from such exotic climes, I believe we had a lot of Germans and border country types serving here in Britannia, and I go with our armourer, and you about the reliablity of a composite bow, but the use of a self bow of whatever design is suely a remedy to this?

I think the siyah found over here (I'm sure he said only one and a bit of similar wood) were from a composite bow, but one that broke, hence why it was deposited in a midden? A sycthian doesn't use siyahs does it?

Enjoying this, very imformative :)



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Peter Murphy » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:19 pm

Optio wrote:The Sycthian and Hamian archer auxiallarys are well know, and documented, and they for certain used composite recurves, but never served over here


Some sources show that Cohors I Hamiorum Sagittariorum were based at Carvoran fort before being moved to Bar Hill on the Antonine Wall during the second occupation period (c.AD158). It's been said that they were very likely stationed at the Vercovicium (Housesteads) fort on the Wall, though the occupation period there is unknown.

The Roman Army Museum, on the site of Carvoran has some good information on them.


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:02 pm

Now that has short circuited a lot of difficult reading, I have been, admittedly, on and off, ploughing through known units that served in Britannia, I could discount the sythians, as they are quite easy to trace, and was on the trail of a substantial unit from what is the Balkan region today, but they seemed to be a lot later on (towards the end of the empire) 4-5C ? But I couldn't find anything except from earlier references for Hamian except from other parts of the empire :? , hence from your description and name I've just flipped up a gear and a few chapters from your post, and can now make a tenuous link to the midden bow part finds (or at least how I see it, as the stuff I have on the siyah remains have no date region on the notes I have) which would make sense, and go a way towards showing composite bows reliablity in Britains climate :D . I think a lot can be sensibly deduced by arrow heads (which is the next area I'm looking at) as we have a fantastic selection of survivng arrows used in Roman warfare from Massada, and their construction leads to use using a thumb ring, which is commonplace when using a composite bow, and the sheer dimensions of the heads would throw pretty good proof of what was used by what. You havn't got any of those details to hand have you? 8-)



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Peter Murphy » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:29 pm

The link to Housesteads was due to a gravestone (dated between 125 and 140 AD). It's now in the Hancock museum in Newcastle and shows equipment associated with the Hamian archers including a bow of a recurved composite type.

Horn reinforces for composite reflex bows have been found at Bar Hill (where they were stationed for a while), Corbridge military depot and also, further afield, the 3rd C. workshops at Caerleon. The Bar Hill examples have been dated to mid 2nd C. and are in the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow

A bone archer's ring is in the museum at Chesters fort.

Arrows apparently were being made in large numbers at Housesteads as late as the 4th C. which I know is a little outside of your dateline ;)


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Optio » Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:44 pm

Peter Murphy wrote:The link to Housesteads was due to a gravestone (dated between 125 and 140 AD). It's now in the Hancock museum in Newcastle and shows equipment associated with the Hamian archers including a bow of a recurved composite type.

Horn reinforces for composite reflex bows have been found at Bar Hill (where they were stationed for a while), Corbridge military depot and also, further afield, the 3rd C. workshops at Caerleon. The Bar Hill examples have been dated to mid 2nd C. and are in the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow

A bone archer's ring is in the museum at Chesters fort.

Arrows apparently were being made in large numbers at Housesteads as late as the 4th C. which I know is a little outside of your dateline ;)



Hmm, Newcastle, hmmm, thats a fair way from the midlands, may have to combine a trip to a more Northerly event and pop by. Not even going to mention Glasgow as thats akin to another country. I have been to Caerleon once when D stopped there on the way back from Margam, the trouble was the museum actually shows very little :( and the staff were, well, a bit vague to say the least. I'l speak to D again, who I think has written a few pages on neolithic bows, and he'l know some more hopefully. Do you know if there are any articles available online for Bar Hill and Corbridge?



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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Peter Murphy » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:00 pm

Plenty around, apart from the Hancock, Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum are worth a joint trip, it is after all, Wall country :)

I often use a very useful site in conjunction with books, some signposted at the bottom of the articles, for information. I've attached the main links for Bar Hill and Corbridge but there is a lot more information to mine, don't blame me if you lose yourself for a bit. Enjoy! :)

http://www.roman-britain.org/places/bar_hill.htm

http://www.roman-britain.org/places/corstopitum.htm


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Re: Recurve Bows

Postby Tiddles » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:31 pm

Taking this to the next level.

I am looking at the possibility and even better for evidence of a bow like my Hungarian Recurve being in use in the UK at the time of the War Of The Roses.

I usd my bow at Tewkesbury this year and met lot of wonderful friendly archers some of whom where fascinated by my "funny little bow" :D
They where also impressed by its power and range :rock:




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