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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
Joined: 22 Mar 2005

Posts: 89

PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 9:23 am    Post subject: Time to make an arrow head         Reply with quote

Hello,
I watched a TV prog last night on a UK terrestial channel; it was a Time Team program about Edward the Third and his "Round Table".
[Regular forumites may remember that the program was recently mentioned in a topic specifically because a re-enactor who was helping with the program was tragically killed during its making.]

One point that was raised by a contributor, was that Edward III when preparing for a campaign [maybe the Crecy one] requisitioned about 3 million arrows. It was mentioned by a current day blacksmith that it would take an hour to make single arrow head, although one that was good enough to kill a man would take maybe only 30 minutes.
The follow on was that about 1.5 million man hours would have been needed to make all the arrow heads if starting from scratch. Obviously an arrow maker would have stocks of heads to draw upon though big orders would eat into this.

In Juliet Barker's AGINCOURT book she indicated that one arrow maker [fletcher or whatever] had been requisitioned to make over 1 million arrows. It would seem reasonable to assume then that the 3 million figure is ok.

My question is this; does anyone know if the times taken to make an arrow head that I mentioned above are correct / reasonable? If it is, it gives a flavour of how much planning a campaign would need to requisition materials etc; Barker's book goes into this aspect quite well.

Another topic; I read somewhere that the arrow heads used by the English archers where actually hardened on the outside to assist with penetration of mail / armour. Is this true and if so do we know how it was done?

I look forward to hearing from you.

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself
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Robin Palmer




Location: herne bay Kent UK
Joined: 21 Dec 2007

Posts: 138

PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Malcolm

The question is a bit loaded a good man with a good supply of materials can turn out bodkins at about one every ten or fifteen minutes. Broard heads a bit longer big swallow tail barbs an hour each. It depends on the type I have seen a bodkin from start to finish in twenty minutes at a living history show and that was slowed down for the public.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,184

PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 1:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

DAvid Sim has times for making some Roman artefacts in Iron for the Eagles.
Plumbata heads: 35 mins for tanged; 41 minutes for socketed
Flat bladed arrow: 30 mins for blank; 5 mins for arrowhead; 2 mins for finishing
Fire arrow: 23 mins for forging and 7 mins for finishing.
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Chase S-R




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 31 Jan 2008

Posts: 166

PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have made tanged bodkins ground from nails and then hardened them they have only taken me about 5 min. but i already have the iron I don't know how long it would take if you counted in the smelting of the steal and pulling it into bars, hours I would guess. I have never tried it but maybe someone would know, can you cast an arrow-head? I would guess the steel would be to soft vs. armour.
Charles Stewart Rodriguez
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Robin Palmer




Location: herne bay Kent UK
Joined: 21 Dec 2007

Posts: 138

PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi chase

The only cast arrow heads I have ever seen are bronze cast iron is no good for arrow heads cast steel would be okey but the process would probably be un echonomical
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Chase S-R




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 31 Jan 2008

Posts: 166

PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Robin I have always wondered about that...
Charles Stewart Rodriguez
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 7:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have read of some ceremonial/ presentation grade Japanese arrowheads (pattern welded type construction) requiring as long as 7 hours to make one arrowhead.

I have to wonder if they would not have constructed some sort of die set to get the basic shape of an arrowhead from an appropriate sized piece of metal, and then a separate die to hold the formed piece while forming a socket. There does not seem to be any strong evidence of this based on artifacts.

There are inventories with references of quantities of arrows stored at castles. These usually seem to be a magnitude of of around 25,000 in a single location. The bigger inventories at a single location seem to coincide with production capacity limits to my way of thinking. "De Re Metallica: The Uses of Metal" by Robert Bork (page 208) states that the head makers of England total cross bolt production capacity at the major production center of Gloucestershire in 1256, was about 25,000 bolts per year. There is also a quote in his text from a period source suggesting that the soldiers were dissatisfied with the degree of point hardness.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Scott Eschenbrenner




Location: Georgia
Joined: 31 Jan 2008
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 10:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Time to make an arrow head         Reply with quote

Malcolm A wrote:

Another topic; I read somewhere that the arrow heads used by the English archers where actually hardened on the outside to assist with penetration of mail / armour. Is this true and if so do we know how it was done?


This study by the Royal Armouries sheds some light on this question, although their sample size is a bit small. The Type 16s seem to have been hardened on the edge, and certainly would have taken more time to make than the unhardened bodkins the RA examined.
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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
Joined: 22 Mar 2005

Posts: 89

PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many thanks to all who contributed; I really appreciate the information supplied.
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 7:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Malcolm,


I read somewhere here I think that swords were not made in the manner we tend to picture i.e. a single smith hammering out a blade from start to finish. Apparently the reality is that production lines predated Henry Ford by centuries. I don't see why they wouldn't do much the same thing for arrowheads, do it production line fashion as much as possible. That would considerably reduce the time per arrowhead and also make the optimum use of labor.

Ken Speed
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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Fri 29 Feb, 2008 1:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I have to wonder if they would not have constructed some sort of die set to get the basic shape of an arrowhead from an appropriate sized piece of metal, and then a separate die to hold the formed piece while forming a socket. There does not seem to be any strong evidence of this based on artifacts.

That makes me wonder if they weren't made in swaging dies like nails.

I don't know about broadheads but bodkins, especially tanged bodkins (sockets don't take that long for a skilled blacksmith to make either) are really just a special slightly chunky case of nail really and watching good nailers at work is awe-inspiring in terms of the number of nails they can produce an hour.

--
Al.
http://wherearetheelves.net
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