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Spenser T.




Location: West coast, Canada
Joined: 14 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2012 10:20 am    Post subject: Which types of bows were used by the hebridean gallowglass?         Reply with quote

I am wondering what kind(s) of bows the gallowglass mercenaries would have commonly used... I have found several sources stating that they were proficient in the use of bows & arrows, along with pictures in some cases, but none I have found mention what types of bows these would have been... and I'm curious!

Thanks for taking the time to input your thoughts and answers

-Spenser
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Tjarand Matre




Location: Nøtterøy, Norway
Joined: 19 Sep 2010

Posts: 158

PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2012 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Probably some longbow variety. If there's any value in comparing with Scandinavian 13 - to 16th century, the longbow was predominant here. Longbows were used in battles in Sweden at least in 1503 according to Paul Dolstein.
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Neal Matheson




Location: sussex UK
Joined: 08 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2012 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://ceathairne.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/gaelic-archery.html

Irish and Scots are almost universally depicted carrying small recurved bows. The Anglo Irish imported a great deal of archery equipment and fielded a high proportion of archers. I'm not sure that the Galloglass were particularly noted as archers.
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Spenser T.




Location: West coast, Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2012 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neal,
Thank you for sharing your article on the archery tradtions of the british isles & ireland. I enjoyed reading that. I see now that, as you put it, there are more questions than answers pertaining to this subject.
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Neal Matheson




Location: sussex UK
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2012 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glad you enjoyed it. At least the questions are good!
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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 710

PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2012 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

we have evidence of 2 kind of bows used in irish context:

the first one was a short bow introduced by the anglo-norman of which an example has been found at Waterford,

no long than 120 cm it was the same kind that you can see on the bayeux tapestry and that has been recovered in a couple of instances in Normandy as well, the bow depicted by Durer in is famous sketch of Galloglass mercenaries could have been a derivation of this short pattern

the other one is the Ballinderry bow, that is the same size of the english warbow of later medieval times, this kind of longbow is purely norwegian in origin and has been brought to ireland by the some viking settlers,

the kind of bows used later in irish and scottish context must have been a derivation of this two patterns,




in my personal opinion the depictions of short recurved bows that are usually associated with irish and scots in the XVIth century are not completely reliable, first of all the depictions come from continental european sources and at the time the irish and scots where regarded as wilder an exoctic people like the ones from asia or america, so the recurved bow must have been only a way to make the subject more exotic looking,

for sure the irish and scots where not using composite bow, a technology and a tradition completely out of place in the british isles context, on the other hands, making a short bow with moderate recurved end is not difficult and the bow depicted by Durer is absolutely plausible

i'm inclined to think that shorter and longer self bow with or without recurved end where used together in the same context both for hunting and for war,
but absolutely nothing even remotely similar to a composite bow
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2012 9:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the climate simply doesnt support the use of composite bows, its colder and wetter up in scotland and in northern continental europe in general, id also imagine the same for ireland to an extent composite bows as i understand need fairly dry conditions to function properly

so id imagine itd be mostly self bows.
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Mikael Ranelius




Location: Sweden
Joined: 06 Mar 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 20 Aug, 2012 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
the climate simply doesnt support the use of composite bows, its colder and wetter up in scotland and in northern continental europe in general, id also imagine the same for ireland to an extent composite bows as i understand need fairly dry conditions to function properly

so id imagine itd be mostly self bows.


Still though composite crossbows were widely used in northern continental Europe.
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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 710

PostPosted: Tue 21 Aug, 2012 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the composite bow was widely used in Russia, so the climate was not an issue for its use,

the making of a composite bow require a very skilled maker that only a long standing tradition is able to produce,

such a kind of tradition was simply unknow in the western european context, even where we have evidence of a limited use of the composite bow , like renaissance italy for example, we don't have evidence of local makers but more likely of imports from the balkan or turkey.


so the use of a self bow was more a choice dictated by culture and tradition, at least in my opinion...
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
Joined: 05 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Aug, 2012 9:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Like mentioned, composite crossbows were very popular in Europe since at least 13th century, so obviously there were plenty of people who could make good wood/horn/sinew composites.

The fact that it apparently haven't seen use in bows is probably indeed tradition/circumstances thing.
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Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 21 Aug, 2012 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think one major factor was the time needed to make a composite bow, as well as the cost because of this.

The proposed usage fo the bow was a factor as well.

If you have an infantry bowman, he does not need a shorter bow, a long one is going to work just fine. Plus it's cheaper to make.

The Eastern cultures, with a need to have a powerful but short bow, developed a tradition for the composite bow.

There are a lot of advantages with a composite bow, you can have a bow with a longer draw compared to the length of the bow, which results in a bow that can be made shorter and is less cumbersome. It's also more efficient, so a lesser weight draw can get the same results as a longer selfbow.
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