Meare Heath Bow

Read Only - storage of past discussions of the authentic replication of historical bows.
jake411
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April 17th, 2011, 12:16 pm #41

I too plan on building a replica but haven't been able to find much info on it.  I read in The Bent Stick that the bow was 66 inches long, limbs were two inches wide near the handle to a point slightly past midlimb, from there it tapered to half inch nocksThe limb thickness was 5\8 of an inch near the handle, 1\2 inch at midlimb and 3\8 inches at the nocks. Now if the point of the meare heath is overbuilding these dimensions seem too narrow and short.  However, Paul Comstock said that these dimensions made a great bow.  I think what I'm going to do is build a 72" bow with limbs that are 2 and 3\4 inches wide near the handle to a little past midlimb, from there tapering to half inch nocks. I will also build one as described in The Bent Stick.  Then I will put them to the test.  I'm more interested in performance instead of historical accuracy but since I couldn't find any dimensions I sort of had to design my own. (P.S.- forgot to ad I plan on making them out of white ash considering I have 50 staves on the way.)
Last edited by jake411 on April 17th, 2011, 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rod
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April 18th, 2011, 11:26 am #42

It's all very well worrying about the exact dimensions, but in what context?
We don't know the draw-weight,  draw-length or capability of the original user and if in his day there were five hundred Meare Heaths you can pretty much guarantee that they would not have all been identical in dimensions.
All we need to know in  making one for our own use are the style and type criteria, which we can easily extrapolate from the existing information and adjust to suit our own build and shooting style.
In any case, of the Meare Heaths I have seen in use, most are being absurdly under drawn, scarcely more than half-drawn in some cases if we look at the possible maximum safe draw length.
These, being drawn only to the chin or to corner of the mouth could quite easily be made shorter and therefore have a shorter and more efficient full-draw length than the artefact.
The Meare Heath is without doubt a long-draw bow and shouild be used as such if we hope to obtain anything close to it's true potential.

Rod.
Last edited by Rod on April 18th, 2011, 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Dennis La Varenne
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April 27th, 2012, 3:09 pm #43

For anybody interested, I have been in contact with Stuart Prior who wrote the Digital Diggings paper about some actual dimensions of the MH bow artifact. He has replied once already and I have asked him to check a full-size drawing I did based some of the measurements given in his article. It turns out that my scaled up reproduction of the drawings in Stuart's article are maybe not too far off the mark. My drawing has a maximum width of 71mm and he told me that the artifact measures 68.5mm at its widest with a handle width of just over 25mm where my drawing shows 24mm. 

Anyway, here is my full sized drawing based on a 10 cm long handle with the overall length being 190.5 as his article suggested. I built the picture by simply duplicating each of the drawings of the artifact (which I presumed were to scale) and laid them end-to-end in Photoshop and interpolated the image upwards to 190.cm long. I then took the width and thickness dimensions from the drawing using the ruler and guides functions in Photoshop laying the guides in the centre of the drawn black lines at each of the 75mm measurement intervals. There were some shorter measurement intervals at the handle and at the nock end. 


I don't know if it is downloadable from PP, but do email me if you would like a copy as a JPEG picture or PDF file.




One thing which amazes me is the picture above of Andrew Hall's repro. It seems to have a width approaching 90mm.


I did raise the issue of the swamped handle section of the artifact. I wondered why he did not reproduce this feature in his repro as it is a significant (if worrisome) feature of the original to those of us with bowyery experience. His picture of the original artifact at Fig 10 in his paper clearly shows that it was cut deeply through the original back growth rings to a depth which I estimate in my drawing to be around 14mm. 


At first I wondered if this bow originally had some kind of short mid-bow reflexed section extending over some 60cm, but the picture in his paper clearly shows that this was NOT the case. The shape was clearly cut down through the original surface layer.


Anyway, I have a Yew stave here at home of T. brevifola which is juuuuuust big enough to make a repro, but I am a bit worried about the swamped handle section. Stuart is interested to see if my repro has the same performance figures as his (which is why I am waiting on confirmation of the dimensions in my repro drawing above or his amendments. Like Rod above, I believe that it was intended to be drawn veeeery long on account of its sheer length and overall bulk. A 30 inch draw would not be straining such a bow at all - except for that dodgy handle section.


Dennis La Varénne
Last edited by Dennis La Varenne on April 27th, 2012, 3:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Dennis La Varenne
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April 27th, 2012, 3:13 pm #44

PS to the post above, I tried downloading the image, but it drops to 1/3 of my original drawing. If anybody wants a copy of my orignal, please email a request. I would prefer if Stuart Prior gets back to me with any amendments he may have.

Dennis La Varénne
Last edited by Dennis La Varenne on April 27th, 2012, 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Alan H
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April 28th, 2012, 3:43 pm #45

This is great, thanks Dennis, PM sent.
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Rod
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May 4th, 2012, 3:44 pm #46

I actually spent the best part of a day in Cambridge some years go, with the Meare Heath, but didn't bother to measure it. :-)
This because I wanted to see and handle it, not to measure it.
I am not interested in precisely duplicating the dimensions of another man's bow, especially when I don't know his draw-length.
Chances are a bow of this sort would have been drawn to the ear; with those tips there's not much sense in under drawing it.
And while we might wish to know precise dimensions, we only have half of the bow to go by.
While think it likely that it was symmetrical, we don't know.
And that handle, stylish but not a great idea in functional terms, which is probably why Andrew cheated on the handle.
And it is not as Comstock appears to think, a flat-bow, It is a broad bow,certainly, but nowhere is it flat.
And it appears to be entirely of yew heart-wood, worked to shape both sides, front and back, not unlike an Andaman in this respect.  

Rod. 
Last edited by Rod on May 4th, 2012, 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Woodbear
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May 25th, 2012, 7:54 am #47

As was posted near the beginning of this thread, Mark in England made measurements of the bow. He got the width every inch, and a bit more detail near the tip. I made the "techie" drawing and analysis of the bow. I believe that Mark made a replica, but that it was tillered to something like 50# at 25in. My analysis is based on Mark's dimensions, and the drawings from the traditional bowyers bible. I am not sure where the handle depth value came from, but i used 38mm. The rest of the thicknesses were chosen to yield 50# at 25in. with pacific yew, and to have uniform strain in the working arms, while accounting for the cross section shapes shown in TBB, and described by Mark.

If the thickness of the bow is chosen to give 50# at 25" and uniform strain, a working strain of 83% of failure strain on the compression side (belly) gives a draw length of 32". The back strain is still just a tad under the failure strain at this draw. Of course these thicknesses are conjecture and not nearly as good as thickness measurements. However they should make a replica possible that is faithful to the width and length, and reasonably safe out to about 30" draw.

For the record, I agree with Mark's guess that the handle popped of a section on the belly side, and then the rest of the handle snapped clean thru.

For reference, here are the dimensions Mark got as recorded in my sheet:
L is the length from the center of the bow (inches), W is the width in (mm) {apologies for the mixed inch and mm dimensions}
L W
0.000 25
1.000 22
2.000 23
3.000 23
3.500 27
4.000 33
4.500 38
5.000 42
5.500 46
6.000 50
6.500 52
7.000 54
7.500 55
8.000 57
9.000 60
10.000 62
11.000 64
12.000 66
13.000 67
14.000 68
15.000 68
16.000 68
17.000 67
18.000 67
19.000 66
20.000 64
21.000 63
22.000 62
23.000 61
24.000 60
25.000 59
26.000 58
27.000 57
28.000 55
29.000 53
30.000 51
31.000 51
32.000 50
33.000 48
34.000 45
35.000 43
36.000 41
37.000 39
37.500 36
38.000 32
38.125 27
38.250 18
38.375 18
38.500 17
38.625 14
38.750 12
38.875 0
here is a link to the techie diagram on flickr:
Meare Heath bow by cedarwoodbear, on Flickr

also; http://www.flickr.com/pho...63758724@N00/7266309646/

Dave
Last edited by Woodbear on May 25th, 2012, 7:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Rod
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August 11th, 2012, 10:26 am #48

Thanks for that Dave, very useful.

It would be good to see a replica that is of yew heartwood worked on both the front and the back, with the correct cross-section and  a draw-length with matches the bow length. 
The more I look at Andaman bows, although they are a very different beast, the more I see in common with the Meare Heath.
Long ntn, heartwood worked front and back, skillfully crafted crowned back in the limbs, keeled belly in the fades and into the inner limb, narrow handled, often questionably weak in the handle.
Then I look at the draw-length on the Andaman and at the ridiculously short draw of some replicas of the Meare Heath.

As for the break, having held the original and looked at the break, it should be no surprise to an experienced archer that it broke where it did, though I do think that the opinion that the back was damaged at that point cannot be discounted. 
Like Andrew I would be reluctant to exactly reproduce the handle on a bow that I wanted to shoot for any time.

But if I wanted a European neolithic hunting bow, I would look no further than the Mollegabet. ;-)

Rod.
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sleek
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December 30th, 2012, 8:19 am #49

Rod, having myself been recently asked to build one of these I would have to ask you. What do you think would be a good length of bow for a 26 inch draw length at 50-55 lbs, made of BL. I have no yew, and the prices on that stuff is retarded, so Black Locust it is. I know its kind of a newbie type question, but having never built a bow of this profile, I find myself asking. Also, for longevity, I emagine leaving out the swan neck handle is a good idea?
Once I was making some paleo mulch from a stick and after many hours was astonished to find myself holding a bow.
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Alan H
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January 3rd, 2013, 5:28 am #50

Sleek

My good wife got me a copy of Hillary Greenland's book "The Traditional Archer's Handbook" for christmas, she has design for a Meare Heath that is 68" ntn, I'm going to make myslf something similar to it our of Elm as it lookss like a good hunting bow. Shortly as I'm also having a hard time getting Yew.
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Rod
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January 5th, 2013, 11:57 am #51

Sleek,
I take the view that a true Meare Heath should be a long draw bow, to the ear.
It is way overbuilt for anything less.
And 26" would definitely be a short draw, delivering a relatively poor cast if you stick to the dimensions of the real thing.

When I spent a day with the real article, and also with the replica by Mr.Lilley, it sure didn't look to me or feel like any kind of flat bow.
Just a big, but elegant long, wide bow of worked yew heartwood, with a keeled belly that faded out into the limb. And being yew heartwood, it was worked all round, like an Andaman. Not an unworked crowned back. It had a sense of bulk, of volume, but not of undue weight in the hand strangely enough.I was very aware of it's crowned section, more substantial in the hand than when you see a scale drawing.

For a short draw, you should perhaps be looking at more of a Comstock "meare heath", meaning more of a conventional flat bow that has width in the outer limbs.
For the 26" draw, if indeed that is full draw for your client, (most folks underestimate their real draw-length, mistaking their habitual D/L for their potential real full D/L), I guess it comes down to whether you want to make it big, in relative terms, or the ideal NTN length for a short draw-length.
As for the handle, it can be done successfully, but it might be argued that it would be wiser as a commercial decision not have dips through the grain on the back of the handle and just make it a plain unbroken backed handle.
This should issue and that of scaling down the NTN to suit the draw length should probably be discussed with your client so that he understands the issue.

Rod.
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Thimosabv
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January 5th, 2013, 5:25 pm #52

Great info as usual Rod. Thank you.
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sleek
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January 6th, 2013, 6:15 am #53

Rod, thanks a bunch for the post. I am wanting to scale down the design for the customer. I am thinking on doing the swan handle for reasons of actually following the design. I have done this once befo re on an elm bow. So long as the handle is stiff I shouldnt have any problems I hope? If it does break in the handle at any time, I will just warantee it, and replace it.   And are you saying that the belly and the back are both worked, not just in chasing a ring or following the grain, but rounded?

I also have a question about the cordage on the back. It seems to me that that sinew on the the back would be a fantastic way to hold down a rawhide backing. It also seems to me that the fact that heat wood on yew isnt the best backing, and with the back being worked, it may have needed a rawhide or cordage backing held down with lashing and a glue?
Last edited by sleek on January 6th, 2013, 6:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
Once I was making some paleo mulch from a stick and after many hours was astonished to find myself holding a bow.
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Rod
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January 7th, 2013, 11:36 am #54

As far as the "swan neck" dips in the handle/fades area is concerned, you're probably right, if it is made stiff enough below the section where the rings on the back feather out.
As for backing, that's your choice. It seems to me likely that the extensive rawhide bindings developed as a decorative extension of the principle of binding at a place where a "lift" might occur on an edge, more often a response to a lift starting at a place where a questionable degree of run-off is situated.
Re scaling down, it might be a case of making the bow as long as possible at the client's full draw, or of making it as short as possible at his draw, or of persuading him that it should be drawn to the ear if that is longer than a 26" corner of the mouth draw.
A choice between looking like a big bow with a short draw, or getting the best cast to suit a short draw-length.
I look forward to seeing it.

Rod.
Last edited by Rod on January 7th, 2013, 11:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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sleek
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January 30th, 2013, 7:46 pm #55

Here is another question about the bindings on the bow. I wonder about two possibilities. Considering that this bow was not worked the " normal" way, yall reckon those bindings served to reduce the carnage if the bow were to have failed at full draw? To hold the splinters and other pieces together so they dont hit the archer? Another thing I was thinking is the possibility of it being there as it was just a convenient place to keep a spare string. Being the possibility this archer was nomadic, maybe if his string broke he wouldnt exactly have the exact dead animal he needed or materials otherwise to make a string. So have one ready made, or at least the materials already on hand wrapped around the bow, to make sure he could keep his weapon ready at all times. Anyways, just two ideas I have with nothing to back them other than, thats how I would do it.
Once I was making some paleo mulch from a stick and after many hours was astonished to find myself holding a bow.
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Rod
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February 1st, 2013, 5:34 pm #56

Not nomadic, an archer would at that period and in that place have belonged to an established farming culture.
See my comment above about "lifts" and the use of binding to inhibit their starting and decorative development of the such localised binding.
I figure it sensible to not over-elaborate the thinking on something that should be pretty simple.

Rod.
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Rod
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February 12th, 2013, 5:31 pm #57

Last night I was reading this file again, looking at his odd comparison of his Meare Heath's performance where he compares it with an obviously very inferior example of a longbow. So I hunted through my arrow tubes and came up with a close match to his arrow for weight. When the weather clears up I'm going to put it through the chronograph with one of my Boyton kid's bows, a full length hickory backed lemonwood that draws only 28 lb @30"as opposed to his 42 lb to 45 lb
I'll be very surprised if it doesn't beat his "like for like" report on cast.

Rod.


P.S.
A nice but ordinary light draw-weight Boyton hickory-backed bow not surprisingly underlines the inadequacy of his "Meare Heath" to longbow comparison.

His longbow, 42 lb @ 28" shooting an arrow of 30 grammes (1.058 oz/437.5 grains), is reported as showing a cast of 34 metres/sec (110.5  ft/sec).

My closest match to his arrow weight was a 30" shaft of  5/16" POC weighing in at 435 grains.

With the Boyton bow drawing 28 lb @ 30", shooting fluently at a moderate tempo, I recorded an  average speed out of a six arrow sample, of 133 ft/sec (40.538 metres/sec).
With a slightly longer hold this average could probably drop from 6 to 8 fps.
 
Last edited by Rod on February 14th, 2013, 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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sleek
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February 14th, 2013, 5:02 pm #58

Wow. I think you have hands down showed his inadequacies in his test and comparisons. So, that brings to question the actual capabilities  of the Mere Heath bow.
Once I was making some paleo mulch from a stick and after many hours was astonished to find myself holding a bow.
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Rod
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February 15th, 2013, 12:15 pm #59

I think it is clear that he has very little practical experience with making or shooting bows which makes his reconstruction of the Meare Heath the more creditable.
But as an exercise in examining relative performance it is of little value.
Clearly, if the Meare Heath was not burdened with overwide tips, something any competent archer should not need to be told, and if it was also shot with a longer draw more suited to its size, then it would not shoot so weakly. I would guess that reproducing the wide tips and short-drawing make the bow shoot as if it were at least 10lb to 15 lb weaker than we might expect  at its draw-weight.
That he thinks 133 fps fast is enough comment in itself. It is also clear that neither he nor his "bowyer" advisor were aware of the significance of mass distribution in bow limbs as it affects cast. 

Rod.
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sleek
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February 15th, 2013, 1:30 pm #60

Well, you have good points there. But what then, would you say, is the reason for the meare heath design anyway? It does look like a terrible design for tip width. Was the original bowyer of the meare heath uneducated in this? it does seem that the bow was used from the nock wear, so I have a hard time accepting the ceremonial idea... Also the binding to keep it together also kinda through that one out the door too...
Once I was making some paleo mulch from a stick and after many hours was astonished to find myself holding a bow.
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