Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

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Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:35 pm

Having recently thought about making my own medieval canvas arrow bag,I began to do some research into them, but now finding myself a little confused. Most of the opinions that i have seen are very much based on the idea of the archer having a bag that has a leather spacer punched with holes in it (the number seemingly beinhg about 20 - 24). Similarly the illustrations I have seen in the Osprey Series book (Bartlett - 'English bowman') also show this arrangement.

Whilst I can see the logic of it (ie - the bag open at either end so that an archer can draw out from the bottom of the bag, the fletchings folding as they pass through the leather disc, the spacer acting to keep the fletchings apart and therefore protecting them from a 'crush' of arrows), I am wondering if this worked in reality. How, for instance, would it work with any other heads than bodkins, given the large broadhead or swallow tail types)? Did the archer carry only bodkins in the bag and the others issued as required?

Also, if an archer's rate of loosing 12 / 20 arrows per minute is correct (and have seen video footage of people being able to achieve a rate similar to this), wouldn't an archer exhaust his supply of arrows very quickly? Even with young lads /lasses re-supplying them, surely this rate of fire would quickly outstrip the ability of those to run back and forth?

Is it perhaps the case that such spacers were used to transport the arrows safely to the battle site or with the army as it moved, but that individual archers had simply bags that could be closed off against the weather with no spacer, as I have found that my own arrows can be kept in a similar bag and not suffer crush problems.

Sorry for the amount of questions, but In short, what is fact and what is fiction?

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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby EnglishArcher » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:23 pm

Phoenix Rising wrote:Having recently thought about making my own medieval canvas arrow bag,I began to do some research into them, but now finding myself a little confused. Most of the opinions that i have seen are very much based on the idea of the archer having a bag that has a leather spacer punched with holes in it (the number seemingly beinhg about 20 - 24). Similarly the illustrations I have seen in the Osprey Series book (Bartlett - 'English bowman') also show this arrangement.

Whilst I can see the logic of it (ie - the bag open at either end so that an archer can draw out from the bottom of the bag, the fletchings folding as they pass through the leather disc, the spacer acting to keep the fletchings apart and therefore protecting them from a 'crush' of arrows), I am wondering if this worked in reality. How, for instance, would it work with any other heads than bodkins, given the large broadhead or swallow tail types)? Did the archer carry only bodkins in the bag and the others issued as required?

Also, if an archer's rate of loosing 12 / 20 arrows per minute is correct (and have seen video footage of people being able to achieve a rate similar to this), wouldn't an archer exhaust his supply of arrows very quickly? Even with young lads /lasses re-supplying them, surely this rate of fire would quickly outstrip the ability of those to run back and forth?

Is it perhaps the case that such spacers were used to transport the arrows safely to the battle site or with the army as it moved, but that individual archers had simply bags that could be closed off against the weather with no spacer, as I have found that my own arrows can be kept in a similar bag and not suffer crush problems.

Sorry for the amount of questions, but In short, what is fact and what is fiction?

Andy


Arrow spacers were found on the Mary Rose; still with the arrows through them. So there is no speculation there - except that they may be a Tudor invention and not medieval. The use of a linen bag comes from a drawing made in the late 18th century, and there is no reason to believe it doesn't represent a sketch of an extant arrow bag (now lost). There are also illustrations from the late 15th Century showing (what are most likely) arrow bags / baskets.

Twelve arrows a minute is certainly possible - IF you are shooting a piddly 50lb bow (like most re-enactors). With a military-weight bow (let's say, 140 - 150lb) 6 - 8 arrows a minute is far more realistic, if only for the following reasons:

Lactic acid build-up in the muscles limits the rate at which you can draw a heavy bow. After about 8 arrows you just can't move the bow any more! That means you are, effectively, useless for a couple of minutes.

To fully draw a bow, loose, and see where the arrow hits takes about 8 - 10 seconds. There doesn't seem much reason to loose arrows (especially when they are a limited resource!) without looking to see if you've actually hit something.

There is absolutely NO practical application to plinking arrows at an enemy as fast as you can. To be in any way effective the arrow has to hit fast and hard. All the archers I've seen do the '12 arrows or more' trick can barely penetrate a paper target at 20 yards, or send their arrows more than about 80 yards - both useless in warefare.


There is no evidence for the mythical '12 arrows a minute'. Forget about that. And demand anyone who mentions it produce their evidence. Then slap them (for good measure). :D

There is also no good evidence to suggest military archers used anything but bodkins for warfare. Swallow-tails and Fowling (crescent) heads are for hunting, not military use. They are just too expensive to supply in large quantity. With a bodkin, you can just pull it out from the spacer backward; there is no need to drag the fletchings through a tiny hole (which wrecks them).

I've use a linen bag, simply knotted at the bottom and tied at the top, to hold my arrows for years. I find it a simple and practical way to carry arrows, and actually does a very good job of protecting fletches.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Grymm » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:27 pm

EnglishArcher wrote:To fully draw a bow, loose, and see where the arrow hits takes about 8 - 10 seconds. There doesn't seem much reason to loose arrows (especially when they are a limited resource!) without looking to see if you've actually hit something.

There is absolutely NO practical application to plinking arrows at an enemy as fast as you can. To be in any way effective the arrow has to hit fast and hard.



I agree about the 12 arrows per min BS, but here's the thing, waiting to see what you've hit assumes that all your archers have line of sight to the target does that means the volley 'clout' stylee another 'nacterism and they should be spread in skirmish line in front of the rest of the foot troops?
Using the bow as an area effect weapon keeping your opponent tucked down and causing them to bunch could have it's tactical uses and as long as the front couple of rows can see the fall all any others have to do is point it at roughly the same angle 'etwallop' carpet bombing!
Just a thought.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:06 pm

Interesting thought about the lactic acid build-up, and as a medic I can see how that would work, as the build up of that acid is what causes a 'stitch' in runners etc. However, just as people who have long-standing respiratory diseases begin to stand a higher level of CO2 in their bodies than normal breathers, might it not have been the case that archers, given that thery began training at an early age and gradually worked up in poundage, began to be able to withstand higher levels of this build up in their tissues? After all, the skeletons of archers have been shown to be supportive of a greater muscle mass than the average, and if you were practicing day after day doing this perhaps the the body might adapt itself to this activity?

Can also see that the cost of swallow tails etc would be prohibitive to their use in volley after volley, but is it not also possible that in campaigns such as the Hundred Years War archers might be supplied with a limited number of such heads? Thinking along two lines here:

a) Campaigns had 'baggage trains' with them, and in these were what might be called the 'supportive cast'.Surely this cast would have also included blacksmiths etc who would be able to make such heads, as no doubt bowyers and fletchers were also in such trains (as well as the ladies to provide 'entertainment' for a few coins, no doubt! :D )

b) The swallow tails and broad heads give a large wound which produces severe blood loss and therefore shock sets in very rapidly. If this was seen in hunting, then is it not feasible that the heads would also be turned to use in war against other large animals such as horses? Thinking along the lines of the screwdriver for instance - what do you use a screwdriver for? Can think of a myriad of other uses apart form the intended one (even though you're not supposed to use it for anything else!). What works in one direction surely works in another?
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby EnglishArcher » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:27 pm

Grymm wrote:I agree about the 12 arrows per min BS, but here's the thing, waiting to see what you've hit assumes that all your archers have line of sight to the target...

I must have misunderstood this. Are you saying that archers would be positioned where they couldn't see their target? Except in siege conditions (where, presumably, your target is behind their walls) you'd have to be a pretty poor commander to position your troops in such a disadvantageous position.

Phoenix Rising wrote:Interesting thought about the lactic acid build-up, and as a medic I can see how that would work, as the build up of that acid is what causes a 'stitch' in runners etc. However, just as people who have long-standing respiratory diseases begin to stand a higher level of CO2 in their bodies than normal breathers, might it not have been the case that archers, given that thery began training at an early age and gradually worked up in poundage, began to be able to withstand higher levels of this build up in their tissues? After all, the skeletons of archers have been shown to be supportive of a greater muscle mass than the average, and if you were practicing day after day doing this perhaps the the body might adapt itself to this activity?


I think that, absolutely, military archers would be adapted to shooting these heavy bows, and supremely strong and fit.

That said, I've had this conversation with both Mark Stretton (current Guiness World Record holder: shooting 3 arrows, full-draw, off a 200lb bow) and Joseph Gibbs (who quite easily shoots a 160lb bow all day). They have both agreed: after about 8 arrows in quick succession, the lactic acid build is intense. Even if we assume our forebears could manage twice that without tiring, they'd still only manage a two-thirds of a arrow-bag full before burning out.

Can also see that the cost of swallow tails etc would be prohibitive to their use in volley after volley, but is it not also possible that in campaigns such as the Hundred Years War archers might be supplied with a limited number of such heads? Thinking along two lines here:

a) Campaigns had 'baggage trains' with them, and in these were what might be called the 'supportive cast'.Surely this cast would have also included blacksmiths etc who would be able to make such heads, as no doubt bowyers and fletchers were also in such trains (as well as the ladies to provide 'entertainment' for a few coins, no doubt! :D )


Possibly, but two points in response to that:

1) Where did the (expensive) steel come from? The blades of a swallow tail require a fairly large amount of steel - fine if you only need one or two to hunt with (and you normally get them back each time); not so good if you want to make several hundred.

2) Why spend half an hour making a swallow tail when simple iron bodkins can be made in 10 minutes?

Iron bodkins can be made and case-hardened en-masse, relatively cheaply and simply, with materials available to a baggage train. Being practical, I would think they would go with the simplest, most cost-effective option, given the choice.

b) The swallow tails and broad heads give a large wound which produces severe blood loss and therefore shock sets in very rapidly. If this was seen in hunting, then is it not feasible that the heads would also be turned to use in war against other large animals such as horses? Thinking along the lines of the screwdriver for instance - what do you use a screwdriver for? Can think of a myriad of other uses apart form the intended one (even though you're not supposed to use it for anything else!). What works in one direction surely works in another?


Again, I have no doubts that hunting heads would have been shot in battle situations. After all, you're not going to save an arrow if your life depends on it.

That still doesn't mean hunting heads were military (livery) issue.

Further, a hunting head is designed to be used at relatively close range. If shot for distance (as an area suppression weapon) the drag from the large fletches (needed to stabilise such a heavy arrow quickly so it flies straight to the prey) restrict the range of the arrow, and the large 'wings' of the head tend to steer the arrow off course.

I can find very few compelling arguments for the use of hunting heads in military situations. Once you've shot a few hunting heads you just know they weren't used for war.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Phoenix Rising » Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:56 pm

That said, I've had this conversation with both Mark Stretton (current Guiness World Record holder: shooting 3 arrows, full-draw, off a 200lb bow) and Joseph Gibbs (who quite easily shoots a 160lb bow all day). They have both agreed: after about 8 arrows in quick succession, the lactic acid build is intense. Even if we assume our forebears could manage twice that without tiring, they'd still only manage a two-thirds of a arrow-bag full before burning out.


From what I've read and seen I believe the optimal poundage for a longbow is about 140 lbs, as after that its efficiency decreases due to the thickness of the limbs and the energy disipated in them. Given the above then, does that possibly give credence to the thought that archers would have loosed their volleys in a staggered fashion, so as to create maximum efficency and lessening the lactic acid build up effect?

1) Where did the (expensive) steel come from? The blades of a swallow tail require a fairly large amount of steel - fine if you only need one or two to hunt with (and you normally get them back each time); not so good if you want to make several hundred.

2) Why spend half an hour making a swallow tail when simple iron bodkins can be made in 10 minutes?

Iron bodkins can be made and case-hardened en-masse, relatively cheaply and simply, with materials available to a baggage train. Being practical, I would think they would go with the simplest, most cost-effective option, given the choice.


Couldn't a broadhead / swallowtail head be made of the same material that bodkins were made from, therefore lessening the cost /time of manufacture? Interestingly the Royal Armouries site gives information with regard to the Medieval arrows, and they are now saying that the most common head used is the Type 16 (compact broadhead), and that it is the only one that they've found was treated differently in manufacture. I've put the relevant bit below:

Results of analysis
Even within the small group of arrowheads which have been studied metallographically, one type stands out as being unusually carefully constructed using the relatively expensive material, steel, for points and cutting edges and usually being quenched to achieve maximum hardness. This is the Type 16 compact barbed and socketed head.

Significance
Despite claims that bodkin and quarrel heads were suited to the attack of armour, there is no evidence that these were normally constructed of materials that would provide sufficient mechanical strength to overcome metallic plate armour. By contrast the care and expense expended on the “high-tech” hardened composite iron/steel Type 16 heads suggests that these were intended for such a purpose.


Perhaps the arrow head evolved into this, maybe a hybrid design of the time, combining the atributes of both bodkins and broadheads. One thing's for sure - wouldn't have like to have been on the recieving end of them! Would love to have gone back in time to see how it was done though -would give us all the answers to out most intriguing questions!!
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby EnglishArcher » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:37 am

The Type16 may well have been the most commonly-found head (but I dispute this) but the RA don't say where all these Type16s were found. Given that most major excavations are around urban areas, rather than battlefields, it is perhaps not surprising you would find more hunting / civilian arrowheads.

Do the RA give a statistical analysis of the distribution of arrowhead types at battlefield sites like Crecy, Agincourt or Towton?


If you case-harden an iron bodkin, by heating it in a source of carbon (such as bone meal) you'll get a very thin, very hard casing; more than capable of penetrating iron plate. The case will only be a few microns thick. If you then bury the arrowhead in the ground for 500 years that case-hardening will be completely eroded away. This may well explain why you only find (what appear to be) soft iron bodkins.

The Type16 is no more effective as a military head than the simple bodkin. All the talk about Type16s being used against horses are purely thought experiments - to my knowledge, no-one has actually shot a horse with both arrowhead types to see which enrages the horse more! Similarly, I don't know of any human who's been shoot with a heavy warbow and war arrow to see how he feels about it.

Then, as now, military logistics and capability where money-driven. I can see no reason why accountants would spend so much more money on composite steel/iron arrow heads that have so little improvement over case-hardened iron bodkins.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby gregory23b » Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:25 am

EA

"Are you saying that archers would be positioned where they couldn't see their target? Except in siege conditions (where, presumably, your target is behind their walls) you'd have to be a pretty poor commander to position your troops in such a disadvantageous position."

He means block of archers, rather than lines, ie (possibly) shooting at a distance over the heads of the archers in front. Alluding to the various formations suggested by 'herce' etc. they are not linear but block. If they didn't or could not then that reduces the amount of actual arrows shot in one time by the unit.

It is a good point because there are issues of visibility and trajectory, the closer an enemy gets to the lines, the fewer archers in anything other than the front of a line could shoot.


---


Arrow bags - this also comes from the possible portrayal of them in the Schilling Chronicles of the wars with Burgundy, where archers are shown with 'bags' attached to their belts. See picture, however, this may also be a lazy way to portray arrows in belts, the drawing style here is quite economical. There are other similar images.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby EnglishArcher » Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:40 pm

gregory23b wrote:He means block of archers, rather than lines, ie (possibly) shooting at a distance over the heads of the archers in front. Alluding to the various formations suggested by 'herce' etc. they are not linear but block. If they didn't or could not then that reduces the amount of actual arrows shot in one time by the unit.

It is a good point because there are issues of visibility and trajectory, the closer an enemy gets to the lines, the fewer archers in anything other than the front of a line could shoot.


Do we know for sure 'herce' implies 'block'?

A lot of the logistical 'facts' we take about archer formation were taken from Lt-Col Alfred H Bourne's work in the early 20th Century, The Agincourt War and The Crecy War. His interpretation was based on his military experience of trench warfare, artillery and machine gunnery in WWI.

Hardy presents a different interpretation for archer deployment in The Great Warbow. Although there are many things I disagree with Hardy about, but I think his interpretation has merit.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby gregory23b » Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:14 pm

"Do we know for sure 'herce' implies 'block'?"

As I said, alluded to.


There are various interpretations of that, if it is to fit into a relatively enclosed space, say Azincourt, then the question and it is a question, where and how do archers position themselves, or if not in a block, do they shoot at all from the back? Are they thin lines in front of the main body etc. At the end of the day a few thousand men of whatever type take up either a wide frontage, or a deep formation, there are not that many options. So the question remains, how easy is it for rear rank archers to shoot over those in front? Is it a viable proposition? Presumably there would be a limit to the depth of any such body due to the effective ranges.

I am not advocating a particular formation, but Grymm's question still stands, we do know it is possible to shoot at an unseen enemy with arrows, after all they have the steep trajectories that allow that, notably even in the 19th C, British soldiers were being shot at by Afghan bowmen when they could not by afghan muskets.

On top of that, this is for another debate really, but do we actually know the archers formed separately from the non-bows? Especially in the case of WOTR set pieces when men of all types were commissioned under a series of lords' livery?
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Grymm » Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:14 pm

No you did read it right, it was just my usual random and disjointed musing plus someone has to ask the 'stupid' questions =o) but I wasn't suggesting it was completely 'indirect' shooting with some bloke waving an arm at where he thought the French should be saying '"Somewhere overthere chaps, just bang a few off you're bound to hit summat".

Whilst we're on 'random and disjointed musings;
EA, how much room do you need or do you think an archer of the period would need to effectively/comfortabley use a bow?*

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My rather demented drug addled ideas on the 'herse' thang is not the wedgy shapes that were the accepted wisdoms when I used ( read, in the days when I could be arsed) to shoot/fight, but rather an open order formation, like the pins on a harrow (or intersections on a portcullis, which is another muddyevil usage of the word herse)
Y'still run into line of sight probs at rank 3 or 4 though........ And even shoulder to shoulder(not good for archery) the 5-7,000 archers, at Azincourt is gonna be a pretty long line.
'S been so long since I read Hardy's....or was that Longbow, and I can't remember who I loaned it too either, or my Chaucer's Knight either come to think of it, OH huge hairy bum'ole need to start gathering the strays together again....erm, where was I? Oh yeah. What's his current take on the herse/archers deployment in combat then?

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I know chroniclers tend to wax lyrical but I'm not sure how easy tracking one arrow in flight is going to be when they are, “… so fast and thick that it seemed to the beholders like a thick cloud, for the sun, which at that time was bright and clear then lost its brightness so thick were the arrows…”
Waurin's description of the 'barrage' laid down by Percy's bowmen at Shrewsbury.
Oh, I know during the above the future No.5 copped an arrow in the face 'at an angle to a depth of 6" but does anyone know was that down, up, oblique?
“…smetyn in the face be syd the nose on the lefte syd with an arrow the wyche sayd arrow entryd overwharte and after the schafte was takyn owt and the hede ther of a bod styll in the hyndyr parte of a bone of the hede after the mesur of vj ynche”

None of this is about arrow bags, sorry.


* This particular daft question came after I remembered getting painfully poked in the pods by the pointy horn knock of a 'neighbours' bow whilst twanging away at a Tewksbury some time last millenium.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Alan E » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:35 am

On archer's formations: I believe the 'herce' thing comes from Froissart, usually translated as 'harrow' and (given that modern harrows tend to be wedge-shaped) implying a wedge formation. Of course medieval harrows (if that is what was meant by 'herce') were not necessarily (ever?) wedge shaped - in fact I've seen arguments for them being square; including - I can't remember the source :sweat: , a heavy open square framework dragged flat over the ground, with spikes sticking down where the beams joined.

So what did Froissart actually say? I've not seen a complete answer to that, but the other day came across a more complete translation than I've seen for a while (from Medieval Mercenaries - the business of war: William Urban - p91 of the edition I have):
"The English, who were drawn up in the three divisions and seated on the ground, on seeing their enemies advance rose undauntedly up and fell into their ranks. That of the prince was the first to do so, whose archers were formed up in the manner of a portcullis or harrow and the men at arms to the rear...."

So on this occasion (Crecy) at least one body of archers was in front of the men at arms. Whatever is meant by "harrow" doesn't seem to me to be a wedge as it is also a "portcullis". Either a (open?) screen in front of the MaAs or ... well, that picture of a flat harrow with spikes at the joints, did look awfully like a portcullis laid flat on the ground! Archers at the spike positions = an open block with staggered lines?

On the argument about bodkins vs type16 :devil: What after all are type16s, but a bodkin with a thin bit of steel folded over them ? :shh: How better to conserve your expensive steel than to use it to coat the iron core. :thumbup: In which case, how many bodkins are actually type16s with the steel case eroded away?

Fully agree that hunting swallow-heads etc are far too expensive, large, wasteful and short range, to be anywhere near a battlefield supply (except in the lord's hunting equipment, along with his gazehounds and hawk ]:) ).

Edit: Just read Grymm's post properly and see that he has already mentioned the portcullis/herse thing, so take mine as agreeing with that as a possibillity :D . On the subject of Warbow: I thought I'd lent mine out to " :$ I forgott who" as well, then it eventually turned up hidden in a box a year or so later: There's hope yet!
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Langley » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:53 am

Possibly more re-enactorisms but just to add to the discussion. What if fletched shafts and heads were shipped separately and assembled just prior to battle. Isn't there something about barrels of bodkins in the record IIRC? I have heard it said the French accused the English of using poisoned arrows because the piles were stuck on wiht a "glue" made of blood and dung on the field. The "bags" in the illustration look more like wicker baskets. I carry my stock of several dozen in a wicker basket with a linen canvas cover to keep them dry. I also have a small arrow bag with a dozen matched bodkin headed arrows and was told that some archers did carry a set of arrows which they had practiced with like this for use as "sniper" rounds when they wanted real accuracy. My leathe "Mary Rose" style spacer has holes around the edge for sewing into a canvas bag. I think some but not all examples have similar. About all I would be prepared to say is that they were used as spacers to protect fletchings but not sure in exactly what way they were used or even in a bag at all.

Yes, lactic acid builds up but with repeated practice, you also build up the levles of the enzymes which metabolise it which is why practice runs before tackling a marathon are a good idea but I am not going to argue with someone I respect as much as Mark Stretton who does practice as much as we are told mediaeval archers did. I personally can put 16 arrows into a target in a minute pulling 75lb without anything like as much regular practice and I know Ray Rees of Cwymni'r Bwa can loose a sheaf of 24 from his 90lb bow in 90 seconds. As to running out of ammo, well, you might want to keep up a high rate of shooting for a few minutes at the start of a battle then reduce, possibly even shooting in ranks after that. There is so much we do not know about exactly how it was done but trying to work it out is one of the fun bits of this hobby and valuable contribution to knowledge as experimental archaeology too!
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby John Waller » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:12 pm

There is a leather spacer in the Museum of London, which has, if memory serves, 25 holes. Can't recall if it had evidence of stitching holes.

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.

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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Langley » Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:03 pm

And slots around the holes which would permit type 16s to be inserted. Had forgotten that detail! That and the Mary Rose one further down the page may have stitching holes but difficult to see - they may be on the edge at an angle and only visible from one side but there are indentations around the circumference which look as though they might. Must go take another look!
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby John Waller » Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:09 pm

Langley wrote:And slots around the holes which would permit type 16s to be inserted.


That's what I thought. :)
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Tod » Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:35 pm

I've just made an arrow bag with the multi hole insert. The first problem I had was that I had to make the spacer bigger to allow for the blunts we use - mine has 21 holes. The top and bottom both close and I put wool in the head end although I can't see what it would do even if I used sharpes. I added a belt as there is no way the whole thing would fit inside the belt I already wear. Mine is based on the pictures in the Osprey book. I looked at the picture above and couldn't work out why the bottom is much wider than the top, why would you pull the arrows out head first?
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Langley » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:47 am

I think there are baskets which are hour glass shaped. Pointy ends go in the bottom but the fletches spread out at the top to keep them apart. Those illustrations do not show the tops. Can't remember where I saw the pics of the hour glass ones though. Even if they were not, points down, the fletches would still be able to spread out if the arrows were taller than the basket itself.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:31 pm

The Type16 may well have been the most commonly-found head (but I dispute this)


So do I - the basis for the London Museum Medieval Catalogue typology still used defiantly by the Royal Armouries people was comprehensively shot to pieces by Oliver Jessop's 1996 revised typology, which makes no mention of the former type 16 (his type M4) being the most common form - in fact he points out that they only occur in 14th to 16th century contexts, whereas the bodkin is found in various forms from the 9th century onwards.
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby JC Milwr » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:17 am

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.


Embaressingly, it's never occured to me to check the authenticity of my bracer! I have a piece of thick leather laced up at the back, which is effectively gutter shaped as it keeps its shape.

thanks for the link John!
Oh dear, an excuse to buy more stuff ;)
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby John Waller » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:50 am

JC Milwr wrote:
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.


Embaressingly, it's never occured to me to check the authenticity of my bracer! I have a piece of thick leather laced up at the back, which is effectively gutter shaped as it keeps its shape.

thanks for the link John!
Oh dear, an excuse to buy more stuff ;)


Not difficult to make. I've made half a dozen or so including one in horn. If you want to buy I would recommend Karl Robinson http://www.karlrobinson.co.uk/other_stu ... racers.php or Todstuff www.todsstuff.co.uk
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby woodwatcher » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:01 pm

Perhaps they werent all pulling back huge poundage bows?
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby EnglishArcher » Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:00 pm

woodwatcher wrote:Perhaps they werent all pulling back huge poundage bows?


Why not?
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby The_Kyle » Sat Oct 01, 2011 11:08 pm

John Waller wrote:Can't recall if it had evidence of stitching holes.


Seeing as I was in the parish...

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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Grymm » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:16 pm

French 16thC ivory arm guard from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. They have several in ivory and horn up in the 'weapons' gallery on the top floor.

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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Friesian » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:16 am

There is also no good evidence to suggest military archers used anything but bodkins for warfare. Swallow-tails and Fowling (crescent) heads are for hunting, not military use. They are just too expensive to supply in large quantity. With a bodkin, you can just pull it out from the spacer backward; there is no need to drag the fletchings through a tiny hole (which wrecks them).



Not an archer myself so please correct me if Im wrong, but are'nt all the Towton finds type 16 rather than bodkins ?
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby EnglishArcher » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:36 am

What is it with re-enactors and Type16s?!

Here's Hector Cole's interpretation of the Towton arrowhead. It was once thought to be a Type16; but that may be by the same people who are convinced the Type16 was the most common military head, and they saw what they wanted to see.

http://www.hectorcoleironwork.com/image ... Towton.jpg

The most plausible theory I've heard about the 'classic' Type16 - from Master Arrowsmith Mark Stretton, who's been studying this for many years - is that the Type16 is a corrupted swallowtail head. That is, a swallowtail that has been sharpened again and again (and again) from repeated re-use (as it's a hunting head) until the 'blades' are thinned right down; then buried in the ground for 500 years, which compresses the barbs flat against the socket.

Once again, until I see conclusive geographical distribution statistics, showing the highest concentration of Type16 arrowheads at known battle locations, I will remain unconvinced they were used as the primary military arrowhead.

I suspect the evidence will show that, even if the Type16 is the most common arrowhead discovered, most finds will have come from settlement areas or their surroundings - the sort of places you might go hunting (or come back from hunting to)
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby Friesian » Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:47 pm

EnglishArcher wrote:What is it with re-enactors and Type16s?!

Here's Hector Cole's interpretation of the Towton arrowhead. It was once thought to be a Type16; but that may be by the same people who are convinced the Type16 was the most common military head, and they saw what they wanted to see.

http://www.hectorcoleironwork.com/image ... Towton.jpg

The most plausible theory I've heard about the 'classic' Type16 - from Master Arrowsmith Mark Stretton, who's been studying this for many years - is that the Type16 is a corrupted swallowtail head. That is, a swallowtail that has been sharpened again and again (and again) from repeated re-use (as it's a hunting head) until the 'blades' are thinned right down; then buried in the ground for 500 years, which compresses the barbs flat against the socket.

Once again, until I see conclusive geographical distribution statistics, showing the highest concentration of Type16 arrowheads at known battle locations, I will remain unconvinced they were used as the primary military arrowhead.

I suspect the evidence will show that, even if the Type16 is the most common arrowhead discovered, most finds will have come from settlement areas or their surroundings - the sort of places you might go hunting (or come back from hunting to)


What is it with reenactors & type 16s ? Nothing in my case - as I said I'm not an archer !........But I would hardly call the reproduction arrow head you have posted as a typical bodkin would you ? Again, correct me if I'm wrong but wasnt the original arrow head (labeled type 16) found embeded in a roof timber in Westminster Hall rather than in the ground ?......I have not done any research on this (was told this by a friend )
Not looking for an argument here BTW , just interested in a subject outside of my usual sphere of interest/research
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby uksimes » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:40 pm

Friesian wrote:There is also no good evidence to suggest military archers used anything but bodkins for warfare. Swallow-tails and Fowling (crescent) heads are for hunting, not military use. They are just too expensive to supply in large quantity. With a bodkin, you can just pull it out from the spacer backward; there is no need to drag the fletchings through a tiny hole (which wrecks them).

Not an archer myself so please correct me if Im wrong, but are'nt all the Towton finds type 16 rather than bodkins ?


I've recently constructed an arrow bag, using a spacer bought from Richard Head supplies. As an 'experiment', I also pulled one of his shop supplied reenactment arrows with linen binding, through the spacer 200 times, and then fired it, without any significant damage to the fletchings, or flight of the arrow, (hitting the gold, at 20m, using a 35lb longbow).

Whilst I wouldn't call the experiment scientific, or a defining moment, it would seem to prove, at least to me, that the use of arrow bags, where the arrow is pulled down through the spacer, doesn't do any damage to the arrow - although it is a damn sight quicker, and easier, to pull the arrow out of the bag by it's nock, and 'load' it that way!! :)
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Re: Arrow Bags - Sorting fact from fiction?

Postby r33nact0r » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:17 am

As an archer of many years standing I have read the posts in this debate with some interest. The one thing that stands out to my mind, is the debate over "12 arrows a minute". I'd like to examine that for a moment. While I agree that it is pefectly possible to shoot 12 arrows a minute, I can keep up a rate of 16 a minute for some time, and not with a piddly little 50 pounder but a 110 pounder - that surely is not the point. Medieval archery was based on the arrowstorm - that is to say 5,000 archers loosing their arrows at the same moment (more or less), so as to create abject terror in their enemy. You did not need to shoot a continuous rain of arrows - shooting say, 10 arrows a minute means you have six seconds to recover nock draw and loose - surely enough time even for a poor archer to keep up. There is some evidence that at Azincourt, the English archers were supplied with 750,000 arrows. If 5,000 archers kept up a rate of shooting near to 12 arrows a minute - 60,000 per minute - all three quarters of a million arrows would have been exhausted in 12 and a half minutes. At half the rate of shooting, - 6 arrows a minute - giving 10 seconds per arrow - that would still only be 25 minutes. But why would an archer need 10 seconds to shoot one arrow? When a medieval archer "block" shot their arrows, they were not "flat-shooting" but into the air at 45 degrees, so that the heavy war arrow would benefit from the extra impetus given to it by the height reached before it began it's plunge to earth. Remember also that there were 5,000 arrows all doing this over a front of perhaps 200 yards. This is what made the arrowstorm so utterly terrifying to those who lay under it. So, 12 arrows a minute? 6 a minute? I think perhaps this was not a requirement for archers in a battle situation, but a training requirement, meant to show how competent an archer was. How did they train? Not by shooting at 20, 30, 50 yards - but at distances of 220 yards and more - battle distance. What do other archers think?
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