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Silk serving on Mary Rose arrows

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:37 pm
by fezbat
In the instructions to make the english Warbow society livery arrow it catagorically states that all the Mary rose arrows were served with silk
http://www.englishwarbow.com/ewbs_livery_arrow.html
Am I correct in assuming that this information has come from this book?
The Archaeology of the Mary Rose Volume 3, Mary Rose Trust 2008
Now waiting to be published as
Weapons of Warre: The Armaments of the Mary Rose
edited by Alexzandra Hildred

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:05 pm
by John Waller
Difficult to say, seeing, as you say, it has not yet been published. Clairvoyant am I not.

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:28 pm
by lucy the tudor
From "Before the mast" Life and death aboard the Mary Rose, 2005 Mary Rose Trust
p 633
Binding
Six samples of binding from the fletching of an arrow were analysed and found to be silk (83s0002 from arrow 81a0429, one of a sheaf in chest 81a2582 in 09) . Examination also suggested that wax was put on in a series of layers. There appeared to be no extraneous matter trapped within the wax.

If that's any help

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:08 pm
by fezbat
absolutely excellent,
Also I know the book hasn't been published but the archeological report has (with limited acces to accademics)
fezbat

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:44 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Ah, John, but my crystal balls tell me that you soon will be.

Look into my eyes, don't look around my eyes...

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:35 pm
by John Waller
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Ah, John, but my crystal balls tell me that you soon will be.

Look into my eyes, don't look around my eyes...
Well I plan to get the book :?

weapons of warre

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:44 pm
by fezbat
well if you want the book heres where to get it!
http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ ... tion/Oxbow

I'm down for one

Linen Thread

Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:55 pm
by fezbat
So how authentic is the use of Linen thread, are there any archeological finds to back its use up?

Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:27 pm
by Mark Griffin
Anyone know what the Westminster arrow fletchings are bound on with? Its the only other arrow I know of existing apart from the Mary Rose ones.

westminster arrow

Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:32 pm
by fezbat
To the best of my knowledge They could not determine and decided it was a 50% chance of silk or linen and as they believed silk was too expensive they went with linen
Hence the common use of linen today

Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:27 pm
by Flesh&Blood
Mark Griffin wrote:Anyone know what the Westminster arrow fletchings are bound on with? Its the only other arrow I know of existing apart from the Mary Rose ones.
I recall it being bound with silk thread, and the remnants of the actual fletching was peacock feather.

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:11 pm
by gregory23b
The westminster one? I dont reemeber it having any feather or thread, but the glue and the indentations where the threads went, showing the wrap. But that was decades ago and tbh would not make that a water tight claim ;-)

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:16 pm
by John Waller
There would appear to have been a lot of Cologne silk thread imported -at least according to the 1480-81 Petty Custom accounts. Whether it was too expensive for all arrows - dunno. Will do some more digging.

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:33 pm
by Hobbitstomper
Silk makes sense if you consider that you don’t need much silk and it is easier to make fine silk threads than linen. Finer threads reduce drag and mean longer ranges. Compared to the cost of making an arrow, the increase in costs from a few feet of silk thread might have been marginal.

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:04 pm
by fezbat
Hobbitstomper wrote:Silk makes sense if you consider that you don’t need much silk and it is easier to make fine silk threads than linen. Finer threads reduce drag and mean longer ranges. Compared to the cost of making an arrow, the increase in costs from a few feet of silk thread might have been marginal.
I have had it suggested to me that the rich would have used silk and the poor would have used Horsehair, for exactly the same reasons as above and that linen was too thick to do the job

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:15 pm
by gregory23b
You can happily have fine linen thread, the thread is mainly there to hold it to the glue while it sets and keep the fletch straight (or not as required), ie you dont necessarily need a fine wire like thread to do the job for arrows that might be manufactured in the thousands for general use.

That does not contradict the idea of a possible marginal difference for silk, just that linen can come fine.

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:34 pm
by Flesh&Blood
Hobbitstomper wrote: Finer threads reduce drag and mean longer ranges.
I take it that that comment was tongue in cheek, or I do hope it was,

G23B, I could be mistaken , I may have confused the arrow at the tower that was found with silk serving and peacock feather.

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:02 pm
by Colin Middleton
I'm guessing that you get two types of arrow too (and you'll have to pardon my use of modern terms);

Munitions - Mass produced for use in war. Handed out by the cart load. These are more likley to be cheap-and-chearful one-use affairs.

Personal - Produced at the request of the purchaser in small amounts (a few dozen) for use in competition and hunting. More likley to be something nice, good quality and probably re-used often.

Just a thought...

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:12 pm
by fezbat
Colin Middleton wrote:I'm guessing that you get two types of arrow too (and you'll have to pardon my use of modern terms);

Munitions - Mass produced for use in war. Handed out by the cart load. These are more likley to be cheap-and-chearful one-use affairs.

Personal - Produced at the request of the purchaser in small amounts (a few dozen) for use in competition and hunting. More likley to be something nice, good quality and probably re-used often.

Just a thought...
I think you are probably quite correct there

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:06 pm
by Flesh&Blood
Colin Middleton wrote:I'm guessing that you get two types of arrow too (and you'll have to pardon my use of modern terms);

Munitions - Mass produced for use in war. Handed out by the cart load. These are more likley to be cheap-and-chearful one-use affairs.

Personal - Produced at the request of the purchaser in small amounts (a few dozen) for use in competition and hunting. More likley to be something nice, good quality and probably re-used often.

Just a thought...
Yep, mass production subbed out for general stockpiling, best arrows for private purchase, or as would have most probably been the case self manufacture.

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:19 pm
by Hobbitstomper
Not really.

The wrapping threads are almost perpendicular to movement of the arrow, and nicely spaced so the air flow can rejoin the shaft before it hits the next winding. 10 windings around a 10mm diameter arrow with a 1/4 mm thick thread gives 77mm^2 of increased frontal area which is about the same as the shaft itself (I think this is probably a rotten model for an arrow in flight as most of the drag will be down the length of the shaft and the frontal area won’t make a big difference). Another way of looking at it is that the wrapping thread makes the part of the shaft where the feathers are wrapped really rough. Thinner thread makes this area behave as if it is less rough.

This probably needs some experimentation (preferably with a crossbow for consistency) to see if it makes a difference.

Does a bit of extra range or long distance striking energy help win a battle? Don’t know- I’ve never been on a real medieval battlefield. It would certainly be something that might give an edge in competition.

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:20 pm
by gregory23b
"G23B, I could be mistaken"

wouldn't bet on it, I reckon I am the mistaken one. ;-)

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:36 pm
by fezbat
Hobbitstomper wrote:Not really.

The wrapping threads are almost perpendicular to movement of the arrow, and nicely spaced so the air flow can rejoin the shaft before it hits the next winding. 10 windings around a 10mm diameter arrow with a 1/4 mm thick thread gives 77mm^2 of increased frontal area which is about the same as the shaft itself (I think this is probably a rotten model for an arrow in flight as most of the drag will be down the length of the shaft and the frontal area won’t make a big difference). Another way of looking at it is that the wrapping thread makes the part of the shaft where the feathers are wrapped really rough. Thinner thread makes this area behave as if it is less rough.

This probably needs some experimentation (preferably with a crossbow for consistency) to see if it makes a difference.

Does a bit of extra range or long distance striking energy help win a battle? Don’t know- I’ve never been on a real medieval battlefield. It would certainly be something that might give an edge in competition.
3/92 ecru linen thread is 0.4-0.6mm thick on average,
the silk I use on my arrows is 0.08mm also it is waxed over so do you think that might just give it the smooth airflow to give it the edge?

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:53 pm
by Flesh&Blood
allowing that the tickness of a medieval steele is considerably greater than anything commercially used by the average archer today, and was made for flight stability, and impact, the serving thickness is of little or no importance to the standard issued by the bundle to soldiers on the field, reliability,re use, and trueness are the paramount (and we know accounts of wobbly arrows making it to battles).

The thickness of a serving, and linen thread is not all like thin rope, you can get some very fine stuff, is going to have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on a standard middle ages arrow, to state that an increase would be gained that would be in any way discernable is quite frankley risable.

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:21 pm
by fezbat
Very true,

I just became fascinated by the drag factor

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:06 pm
by Flesh&Blood
I did a lot of research into arrows, distances, manufacture, climate and bow performance a little while back whilst constructing some Roman tapered arrows for a Museum commission. The findings were quite interesting, but in essence, when you get your head around it, quite logical.

English Warbows pulling 160 + lbs, shoot a long and heavy projectile, being heavy it retains a lot of hitting power, which was essential for the job in hand (reducing numbers at range, without the enemy having an effective manner of reply), the increase in performance from say a 120lb bow compared to a 160lb is not as huge as might be imagined, the heavier bow demands a heavier/thicker/stronger projectile which decreases the effective potential range compared to the 120lb shooting lighter (but just as deadly) projectiles.
The English bow is a sluggard in comparison to some of the recurved composite bows, which have been proven to easily shoot between 300 and 400 meters, with a 'big' bow of this construction being a 100lb draw, but at this range the arrows being shot are no more than a nuisance to an enemy, they will penetrate unprotected skin, but not mail or lammela, however at closer range they are absolutely lethal. Some of these arrows are manufactered from wood alone (and they are time consuming and fiddly to make, please believe me on that :lol: ) others being reed and wood composite (which makes them very fragile). The only binding on these arrows is at the nock, they have no bindings on the fletch at all, and as we are lucky enough to have complete examples from places like Masada, there can be no conjecture to it having rotted off, or been eaten by the elusive 'material I want to find worm'. (as an aside, it was interesting to see that some of the arrows lacked any type of head at all, being just sharpened fire hardened hardwood).

The English bow ruled at this end of Europe because of its stable one piece construction (it is outperformed by a composite recurve in range, rate of fire and accuracy), it has to be conceeded that the glues of the time were not reliable in the sense that we accept it now, binding gave the fletching time to settle and set in the glue band, and allowed a more robust construction for transportation and re use, the thickness of bindings of arrows handed out would have fallen into a parameter of acceptability from the Kings Ordnance guideline, if silk had given such a marked improvement (as has been suggested by one poster) it would become 'par for the course' for all arrows to have this as standard fitment which is not the case.

This is wher we come to 'Best Arrows", would every archer have had a set of 'best arrows', possibly if he made them himself, if he were a Master Archer, most certainly, and they would have been provided by the patron, we know gambling was rife (as with all armies through history) and there is evidence of Lords placing wagers on best archers competitions whilst on campaign.

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:42 pm
by matlot
dont know if the arrows have gone but acording to the news a load of the artifacts off the mary rose are going on display in london for three months
inculding the sword unfortunately i did not see where

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:16 pm
by John Waller
matlot wrote:dont know if the arrows have gone but acording to the news a load of the artifacts off the mary rose are going on display in london for three months
inculding the sword unfortunately i did not see where
Hidden Treasures from the Mary Rose - A superb exhibition of Mary Rose artefacts will be shown outside Portsmouth for the first time at the Whitgift Conference Centre in Croydon. The exhibition lasts from April 7 until August 7. Visit the Hidden Treasures site for more information
http://www.maryrosehiddentreasures.org

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:39 pm
by fezbat
ah!
If only I knew then where my interests lie now!!!
I have walked past the Mary Rose exhibition more times in a day than most have seen it in their lives, thinking I really must have a look at that! Somehow the pub or the train station appeared more appealing.
If I have one regret in life its the fact that I never found the time to have a look!
so I will have to pay a visit to Croydon!
Cos I hate Pompii (DSC-portsmouth)

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:34 pm
by Hobbitstomper
According to Mr Rhiengan’s calculator, for a half inch diameter arrow 2/3 to 3/4 of the drag is down to the fletchings (for 3* 4 to 6 square inch fletchings respectively). If you double the drag of the fletched length of the shaft by making it really rough (roughness is important in turbulent flow) you increase the overall drag by up to 5%. Are you seriously saying that this isn’t important and someone smart enough to make a tapered arrow with a cleverly designed head wouldn’t be interested this gain in long range performance?

At least one minor battle was won by one group of archers outranging the other due to the prevailing conditions.