Orientation of medieval fletching

Pathfinder78
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Pathfinder78
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June 6th, 2011, 10:17 am #1

The title almost says it all. How was medieval fletching oriented, do we know? I'm interested mostly in famous MR arrows. Was it straight, offset, helical? What kind of orientation is used in nowadays replications?
Buttercup: We'll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.
"The Princess Bride"

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Pathfinder78
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June 7th, 2011, 7:45 am #2

Buttercup: We'll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.
"The Princess Bride"

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garyduncan8
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June 7th, 2011, 6:02 pm #3

You might try the book Toxophilus by Roger Ascham, written in 1545. I remember seeing a reprint of it many years ago in the local library, but I am unable to answer your question specifically. The book has long ago been dropped from the shelves.

http://www.addall.com/New...tate=AK&dispCurr=USD

The book Longbow: a Social and Military History by Hardy might also give some answers. I haven't looked at a copy in a couple three decades although it is available at the local library.

[/size]http://www.addall.com/New...&title=&state=AK

Have you tried a google search for medieval arrows to see what information is available? I know that I've seen youtubes that show the making of medieval arrows.

It seems that I have seen medieval arrows posted in the forum. Perhaps a search there will give you an answer that you seek.

Hope this gets you a little down your path.

Gary
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Pathfinder78
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June 7th, 2011, 7:42 pm #4

Thanks Gary, the link I posted gives the answers, so I posted if anyone else was interested in this topic but also had no answer.
Buttercup: We'll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.
"The Princess Bride"

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garyduncan8
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June 7th, 2011, 11:02 pm #5

Path, thanks for the link. It was very interesting.

I don't know how, but I completely missed it when I provided my answer earlier.

Gary
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Rod
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June 20th, 2011, 8:44 am #6

I suppose mediaeval fletching might vary somewhat, but for livery shafts such as those in the Mary Rose, long straight-fletched, whipped on at a close and regular interval with a thin thread which was embedded a glue/varnish mixture on the shaftment.

Don't assume that everything you will see published and called an English or a mediaeval arrow will necessarily even be close.
There's lot of rubbish out there even in sources where we might expect better.

Look in the first instance at the livery arrow specification on www.theenglishwarbowsociety.com under Articles.
But bear in mind that we do not have any fletches from the Mary Rose and a very great many contemporary illustrations of mediaeval archers in battle situations show fork-tailed shafts. Nor does Jaroslav's specification for a "Welsh" shaft imply that these are a Welsh pattern, just I think a variation on the Standard Arrow concept.
I believe there are two good reasons for the military use of fork tailed shafts. One is that there is slightly less trimming involved. Not much admittedly, but in the manufacture of tens of thousands of shafts, every little saving of labour would count.
But more significantly perhaps, it is the flutter characteristic of the fork tailed fletch that best makes that intimidating zipping sound so beloved of film makers. This psychological element would perhaps account for the extensive use of the fork tailed fletch in military shafts.

Rod.
Last edited by Rod on March 26th, 2013, 5:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.
It's meant to be simple, not easy.
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Pathfinder78
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June 22nd, 2011, 12:22 pm #7

Rod, that EWBS specification, is it good or bad?
Buttercup: We'll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.
"The Princess Bride"

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Rod
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June 23rd, 2011, 12:54 pm #8

As good a guideline as you are likely to find, bearing in mind that they are society specifications, not absolute definitions.

Rod.
It's meant to be simple, not easy.
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IanS
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June 26th, 2011, 8:00 pm #9

The EWBS Livery is based on copying where possible then practical experimentation, I think they represent a very good all purpose shaft for any bow 130+ but as Rod said there is so much we don't know and never will exact specifications, fletchings for one are the most unknown and varied topics. It doesn't take long to find out what works and what doesn't when your shooting a heavy bow, I think the Livery is the closest specification published to date.
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bow toxo
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March 15th, 2013, 10:31 pm #10

Pathfinder78 wrote:
The title almost says it all. How was medieval fletching oriented, do we know? I'm interested mostly in famous MR arrows. Was it straight, offset, helical? What kind of orientation is used in nowadays replications?


 
It was mostly straight, also mentioned by Ascham, or only slightly helical, {especially in Viking arrows] as seen on MR and other preserved specimens.  We have lots of information on fletching sizes and forms, and even on dyed decoration of the feathers, what birds they came from and what age the birds were, what part of the wing was used and for what purpose. I can't think of an unanswered question apart from the authenticity of replications I haven't seen.
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Rod
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August 28th, 2013, 12:11 pm #11

The question of fletch size and angle is probably redundant if we bother to ask ourselves the function of the shaft in question.
When the answer is for shooting a barrage of arrows at a mass of people over a long range, low cut straight fletch is the obvious choice.
It's meant to be simple, not easy.
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