The Welsh and Irish Bows

Read Only - storage of past discussions of the authentic replication of historical bows.
David Morningstar
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March 12th, 2010, 9:45 am #61

The style of longbow he is championing was made famous by the English and it is within the English language that he is attempting this linguistic land-grab. One does not need to be English to be Anglocentric.
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Shaykh Idris
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March 12th, 2010, 10:02 am #62

Since when where the Danes not English? Alfred stopped them for a bit, so they stayed in the Danelaw: lowland Scotland & Northhymbria: { check out the very slight difference in accents between Scots & Dansk} then another batch of Norse settled in Normandy, whence The Conquered England , with a little help from the Norwegians , under Harold Hardrada, in 1066.http://www.historic-uk.co...story/NormanConquest.htm Some of my ancestors came over from Normandy. in 1124, others where well established in York by then. As for ' anglocentric', the Angles & the Jutes came from Denmark/ Danmark. Beowulf is set around the Skaggerak! Parliament is another cultural import thence. Just thought that a little historical perspective might be in order.
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David Morningstar
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March 12th, 2010, 11:05 am #63

I would say that these were Norse fighting amongst themselves to settle and rule Britain. By the time the bow in question came to historical prominence, the situation had developed such that a distinct English identity was beginning to emerge.

I did try, tongue in cheek, to build a case that Edward Longshanks, notable for the first large deployment of the longbow at the Battle of Falkirk 1298, was a Norman occupation ruler and there therefore we should refer to the D sectioned bow as the Norman longbow, but this after the Magna Carta so it fell through.
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CraigMBeckett
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March 13th, 2010, 2:28 pm #64

The style of longbow he is championing was made famous by the English and it is within the English language that he is attempting this linguistic land-grab. One does not need to be English to be Anglocentric.
David, I do not see the logic in your argument. To have been Anglocentric he would have had to be arguing that the D section longbow was an English invention.
Since when where the Danes not English?
Since the majority of Danes did not settle in England, that is when.
the Angles & the Jutes came from Denmark
While the Jutes did indeed come from Jutland  in present day Denmark, (the peninsular is named after them), the Angles and Saxons did not. I believe that historical perspective is in order.
As for ' anglocentric', the Angles & the Jutes came from Denmark/ Danmark. Beowulf is set around the Skaggerak! Parliament is another cultural import thence. Just thought that a little historical perspective might be in order.
The fact some of the English heritage comes from the Germanic peoples, other parts come from the peoples that were here long before the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Frisians, Danes, Norwegians, and other Norse peoples arrived on British shores. Just because the English makeup contains components of other peoples does not make those peoples English any more that it makes the English Scandinavian.

Craig.
Last edited by CraigMBeckett on March 13th, 2010, 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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CraigMBeckett
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March 13th, 2010, 11:45 pm #65

This has been raised several times but never answered clearly here.When we are talking about the Welsh and Irish longbows, are we talking about the D section longbows only or about the longbows of any cross-section profile?
When was this question previously asked? Please give me the number of the post in which you claim the question was previously raised? I have checked back and cannot find any such question,  if you wish to raise a question do so but do not exaggerate and when moving the question to a different point do not tell us to "get back to the main issue".

The main question in this thread has been the length of Irish, Welsh and indeed Scottish bows, a question I believe has been answered.

However to answer your question, I believe the majority of correspondents in this thread do not care as to the question of  section, a long bow is a bow that is man height or longer a short bow is shorter.

As to the contents of the site you posted.

The mere fact that various British archery societies define the longbow the way they do does not make their definition correct. The majority of the world does not agree with such a simplistic definition, you must realise the BL-BS was set up to protect a bow type that did not exist before the 17th century and not to protect the bow of the ancients.

Craig.
Last edited by CraigMBeckett on March 13th, 2010, 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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CraigMBeckett
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March 14th, 2010, 4:47 am #66

Post No 55 does not ask the question, I quote it below, please show where the question is asked! Your comprehension of English is somewhat different to mine.
There seems to be a little confusion on a often discussed subject here...

A longbow (in the sense of a medieval western european longbow) is a narrow, mansized bow without defined handgrip and a D cross section, in which the back of the bow is more or less flat, and the belly is more or less rounded. This kind of bow was most probably invented by the Germanic people of Southern Scandinavia at around the turn of the eras.

There are a lot of other bow types which are also man-tall, but they should not be called longbows, because they differ strongly from the shape described above. It´s a pity that rather frequently by some people who don´t know better (a lot of them being archaeologists or book writers like the authors of "The longbow" or "The Great Warbow" the term longbow is used for other bows, especially prehistoric bows.

The bow from Rotten bottom is a typical example of a neolithic flatbow. It is propeller shaped, has a retracted handgrip and a crowned back and a flat belly. It is man-sized... but not a longbow;-) When I was inspecting that find in edinburgh, I was told, that T. Hardy had been there the day before and he had told them it was a longbow... I said that it is not, but I think they didn´t believe me;-)

They even had a quite good replica made by some scottish bowyer, but Hardy told them it´s false, made "the other way round", and they thought of letting somebody make a new replica
Kfoushr is attempting to tell us that the only shaped bow that should be called a longbow is the D shaped one, he does not ask a question but makes a statement. If there is a question here please show me where.

Similarly posts 56, 57, 58 and 60 do not ask a question but instead make statements.

As I said previously please tell me where such a question was asked.

As for your question, even the BL-BS finds it necessary to qualify the name of the bow for in its aimes it states:
Firstly To safeguard and perpetuate the traditions of the English recreational Longbow.
Please note the quaifying word "English"
Is that why several people raised "this question"?
Do we agree on what it means for a bow to be "man height or longer"?
Were there any female archers?
How old do you have to be to be called a man?
It definately seems that your comprehension of the english language differs from mine, when one rerfers to something as man height one is refering to the "height of a human" which is a rather loose definition as humans range greatly in height but I believe that the majority of people understand this definition or do you believe in some magical length that makes a bow long rather than short?
What does it mean for the question of "the length of Irish,
Welsh and indeed Scottish bows" to have "been answered"?
Does that mean the majority of them were long bows?
Or just the majority of bows we know of?
Neither I nor the others of like mind have, in this thread, ever claimed that longbows were used exclusively, there will and have always been people who experiment or find a particular need that cannot be answered by the use of impliments used by the majority. Take for instance the Gallowglass soldiers that were shown at the beginning of this thread, it appears that they had a need that was met by short reflexed bows, however Albrecht Durer was painting towards the end of the 15th Century so his painting cannot be taken as anything but contemporary to that time.
Or just the majority of bows we know of?
Whilst anything is posible one can only base one belief on the bows that have been found, as the overwhealming majority found in western and northern Europe are long ,the logical deduction is the majority of bows in use were long. The Waterford bow is a rarity.

We are currently waiting for pedro to get back to us with more information as he appears to be incontact with the person who wrote the article on Irish bows.

Craig
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CraigMBeckett
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March 14th, 2010, 7:06 am #67

Scp

As you appear to be addressing the whole of your post to me I will answer as such.
Do we really agreed that
the longbow as defined by Kfoushr "was most probably invented
by the Germanic people of Southern Scandinavia at around the turn of the eras"?
 No I do not agree with Kfoushr, if you read my post on the subject you would see that.
Wouldn't it be much more agreeable to say that
as far as we can tell, certain people often used certain kind of bow?
As I said in my previous post "Neither I nor the others of like mind have, in this thread, ever claimed that longbows were used exclusively, there will and have always been people who experiment or find a particular need that cannot be answered by the use of implements used by the majority."
I'm not sure why you need to insist that
certain people mainly used certain kind of bow
when we don't have sufficient evidence.
There is overwhelming proof that man sized bows were used by our forefathers, virtually all the archaeological finds are of such bows, there is little to no evidence of the use of short bows. If however overwhelming proof of the widespread use of the short bow were to be discovered I would happily change my belief. as I said mine is based on the archaeological record.  You are free to believe what you want.
Are you trying to learn something, to teach use something,
or to make us agree with whatever you say?
I am always open to learn something, however learning does not include accepting peoples unsupported assertions.
This thread has been a debate on the archaeological record, and when people post something that differs from the record and by doing so claim it as the truth I will challenge them to produce their proof, not their assumptions. My belief as to the widespread use, note I said widespread use not exclusive use, only came into the discussion as a result of a direct question by Pedro in post No. 48.
I mainly make flat selfbows out of white oak, maple, or birch staves.
But as a poor shot, I make them "almost center shot" with arrow shelf.
Do you think I would ever make English style longbows
out of those white-wood staves?
I have no idea whether you will ever make an ELB, from the above I doubt if you know, however other than myself  I can point to a lot of people who do make ELB's and even Mary Rose style Medieval Warbows from white-woods so why shouldn't you do so at some time in the future.

Craig.
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Jur de Stoute
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March 14th, 2010, 8:52 pm #68

For me the famous Welsh bow is a short piramid bendy handle elm bow. Although alot of yew grows in the region, they choose to make their bows from wild elm just like Gerard of Wales states:

The bows they use are not made of horn, nor of sapwood, nor yet of yew. The Welsh carve their bows out of the dwarf elm-trees in the forest. They are nothing much to look at, not even rubbed smooth, but left in a rough and unpolished state. Still, they are firm and strong. You could not shoot far with them, but they are powerful enough to inflict serious wounds in a close fight. (Gerald, page 113)


I think because the yew trees I have seen in the south western part of England are extremely gnarly and twisted with lots of branches they preferred elm. Although very numerous, for some sort of reason the quality does not quite resemble Continental yew in straightness and quality.

Then there is the famous picture of the welsh archers:



I think this picture is more acurate then alot of people might think. The primary objective being the arrowheads which would have been too large. But everything completely matches. Look at the picture of the arrowhead below from the museum of Glastonbury. Its massive (4 finges wide) ! When shot from a powerfull bow It would indeed not fly very far as Gerald notes, but would certainly inflict serious wounds in a close fight! It also remarkably resembles the arrowhead in the picture of the Welsh archers.



I would love to make a heavy elm bow ca 150-160 cm long bendy handle pyramid style flatbow ca 3.5-4cm wide at handle of high density swamp elm from deep in the forrest. Athough I know a couple of those trees, I don't feel like cutting them down (legal issue). I would make it heavy say 100+ #@26" and forge myself some massive broadheads. This would be the ideal hunting bow I would say for hunting the large beasts of ancient Wales. It would probably also work against 4 finger thick oak doors or the legs of some mounted knight. 
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CraigMBeckett
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March 14th, 2010, 10:02 pm #69

Jur de Stoute,

Sorry but the translation you offer of Giraldus Cambrensis' work is the mis-translation that has caused problems for a long time.
In the first post of this Thread Pedro placed the more correct version, which I copy below, the bold section is where the translation differs from the erroneous one you quoted:

“not made of horn, nor of sapwood, nor yet of yew.  The Welsh carve their bows of the dwarf elm trees in the forest.  They are nothing much to look at, not even rubbed smooth but left in a rough and unpolished state.  Still they are firm and strong.  Not only could you shoot far with them, but they are also powerful enough to inflict serious wounds in a close fight” (Thorpe 1978,112).

Hardy in his book "Longbow" dedicates some time to the mis-translation.

I suggest you take a look at what was said earlier in this Thread and in

http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/33092

Craig
Last edited by CraigMBeckett on March 14th, 2010, 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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CraigMBeckett
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March 15th, 2010, 1:14 am #70

Have absolutely no idea, I have argued that they were as long as the bows used in England as Gerald did not make any comment as to them being short. I have also argued that as the forefathers of the archers of Gwent used man sized bows I would think it illogical for a warlike people to then adopt short bows that would reduce the cast and power of their arrows. There is also nothing in the historical record to suggest that the Welsh archers were forced to change bows when employed by the Normans.

Craig.
Last edited by CraigMBeckett on March 15th, 2010, 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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scp
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March 15th, 2010, 5:28 pm #71

I happen to be reading "The Crooked Stick" by Hugh D. H. Soar.
Regardless of whether the Welsh bow was
"not calculated to shoot an arrow to any great distance" or not, (P. 49)
the term "longbow" is not used in comparison to short bows
but to crossbows or composite bows.
(See, ibid. Chapter 3 note 21 at p. 222)

How short is too short for a selfbow to be called a longbow?
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CraigMBeckett
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March 16th, 2010, 12:18 am #72

I happen to be reading "The Crooked Stick" by Hugh D. H. Soar.
Regardless of whether the Welsh bow was
"not calculated to shoot an arrow to any great distance" or not, (P. 49)
So? A bad translation is still a bad translation no matter who publishes it. While Hugh Soar is a noted archery Historian he is not, I believe, a noted expert in Latin. I suggest you read page 37 of Hardy's Longbow where he quotes a noted expert.

If you are going to talk about the terms used for bows, talk about the earliest references in English. The term Longbow did not make an appearance until very late in the day, prior to that the term Bow or Hand bow was used to distinguish it from a crossbow. They also talked of Turkish bows. Now you may take this however you wish but to me the lack of a modifier to distinguish a short bow from a longbow at a time when we know that the long bow was prevalent, indicates that short bows did not generally exist.

Just realised I have not answered your final question, it is one that has been the cause of many an argument and I believe has no real answer, I believe 64 inch is a very short long bow but where a short bow begins I am not sure, I would definitely put a 55 inch bow down as a short bow, we are talking of adult bows here, but what a bow between those 2 is I have no idea.

Craig.
Last edited by CraigMBeckett on March 16th, 2010, 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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CraigMBeckett
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March 16th, 2010, 5:12 am #73

Is it generally accepted that the Welsh bow (at the time concerned)
was not backed by anything?
The description by Gerald of Wales is the only contemporary one I am aware of and as you can see it says nothing about the bows being backed, if they had he may have been more complimentary and not said they were rough and not much to look at. I would also doubt very much if they would/could be given the climate and the available glues of the time, so called hide glue is a very good glue until you get it damp.

Craig.
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Jorgumund
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March 16th, 2010, 8:49 am #74

I've always thought that the "rough and not much to look at" appearance of these bows could have simply been down to cambium, where the bark has been removed from a stave to create the back of the bow with no more working in that area. The same could be said of bows that had obvious knots on the back - let's face it, even today a lot of very experienced archers view character bows as grossly eccentric and they could easily be an object for disdain due to an overall lack of understanding of what they actually are and of how they can shoot.

Producing character bows or just taking the outer bark off to form the back can produce an appearance that some might find a little scruffy (I love it myself) by comparison to more heavily worked timber of other species.

A badly worked bow tends not to stay together over time or, if it does, it tend to perform very poorly, and most people who use bows tend to have refined things down quite well within the limitations of their climate, available materials and general use, so I find it difficult to believe that the bows, the bowyers who made them and the archers using them, were simply rubbish.

This is just a suspicion of mine, of course, but what might appear to be poor workmanship to some could be absolutely fascinating (and make perfect sense) to others with more relevant subject knowledge, and that scruffy-looking bow might still throw an arrow well, as we all know they can.

Here in the UK there is constant disagreement over what constitutes an English longbow to begin with. I can never make up my mind whether to be appalled by this, embarrassed, completely disillusioned or a combination of the above. Much of the 'educated' world thinks that the Victorian target longbows won Agincourt and yet the truth couldn't be more different if it tried.

Often we have a bunch of 'likely outcomes' when discussing historical topics, based largely on little evidence and on accounts that could be (and in some cases that very obviously are) flawed. Until something concrete comes along, 'likely outcomes' or 'best fit' is about all we have in many cases, and whether they agree with an individual account of the time or not is sometimes not as important as whether the 'likely outcomes' are just that.
if it ain't broke, don't tiller it...

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Thimosabv
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March 16th, 2010, 10:23 am #75

"I've always thought that the "rough and not much to look at"
appearance of these bows could have simply been down to cambium,
where the bark has been removed from a stave to create the back of
the bow with no more working in that area. The same could be said of
bows that had obvious knots on the back - let's face it, even today a
lot of very experienced archers view character bows as grossly
eccentric and they could easily be an object for disdain due to an
overall lack of understanding of what they actually are and of how
they can shoot."

I'm of the same school of thought on this.



"Here in the UK there is constant disagreement over what constitutes an
English longbow to begin with. I can never make up my mind whether to be
appalled by this, embarrassed, completely disillusioned or a combination of
the above. Much of the 'educated' world thinks that the Victorian target
longbows won Agincourt and yet the truth couldn't be more different if it tried."

Suspect the same.
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David Morningstar
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March 16th, 2010, 1:55 pm #76

There are some Victorian target longbows and one Mary Rose bow in Manchester Museum near me, you dont need to look at the labels to know which one is the warbow
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Jur de Stoute
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March 16th, 2010, 4:13 pm #77

Timo and Jorgumund,

Geraldus clearly states no sapwood/whitewood.
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Jorgumund
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March 16th, 2010, 5:14 pm #78

Jur de Stoute wrote:Timo and Jorgumund,

Geraldus clearly states no sapwood/whitewood.
That's fine as it stands, however, it is one account which may or may not be accurate and may also have suffered in translation.

Let's put it this way: if you make a bow with the back as rough as a badger's behind, sooner or later you will be getting shards of it in your face when it explodes at full draw.


An obviously rough bow tends not to survive for long under hard use, and if you multiply the number of rough bows by a number of 'artillery' users then the likelihood of catastrophic failure is increased accordingly, which can result is serious injury.


As I say, I rather prefer the concept of 'greatest likelihood' and 'best fit' than one account that may or may not be accurate.


I'm not trying to be difficult or belligerent in this, but I would hotly dispute anyone who suggested that numbers of bowmen went to war or generally used roughly hewn bows. That's the sort of thing that can end up costing an archer his eyes...
if it ain't broke, don't tiller it...

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KenHulme
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March 16th, 2010, 9:00 pm #79

SCP - we need a little more definition of a "combat situation". An elm flat bow in the style of the Pacific Northwest American Indians, which is a 36"-40" long, draws 50# at a 20" or 22" draw. Such bows have no riser (bend through handle design) and are perhaps 1.5" wide at the handle.

That will certainly kill a human from ambush out to 30 meters or so. But do you consider than a "combat situation"? I do!
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CraigMBeckett
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March 16th, 2010, 9:16 pm #80

SCP - we need a little more definition of a "combat situation". An elm flat bow in the style of the Pacific Northwest American Indians, which is a 36"-40" long, draws 50# at a 20" or 22" draw. Such bows have no riser (bend through handle design) and are perhaps 1.5" wide at the handle.

That will certainly kill a human from ambush out to 30 meters or so. But do you consider than a "combat situation"? I do!
Agreed, however assuming SCP's intent is to find out how short a "Welsh Bow" could be then I doubt that the same 50 lb bow would be capable of  penetrating completely through a thigh, the casing armour on both sides (maille), the part of a saddle know as the alva and mortally wounding the horse beneath it. Nor pinning an armoured man through his hip and casing armour to his saddle. Both of which Gerald relates happened to men of one Norman Lord.
For that I would assume a much stronger bow would be necessary.
Craig.
Last edited by CraigMBeckett on March 16th, 2010, 9:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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