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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

String must be kept away from water, it's pretty obvious with natural materials. Otherwise, it will just get... wet - increase in volume, get soft.

In case of crossbow, where string is constantly on the prod, ready to draw, it's a bit bigger problem than in case of the bow, when longer, thiner string can be just taken away, rolled or whatever and hidden.

I think that's the point about weather and crossbows, although as pointed out, it obviously is not enough to stop people from using them, it would be just more problematic.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 7:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is loads of evidence for crossbows in the borders and lowlands from the 13th to the 16th but I'd have a hard time proving use in the Highlands with the sources I have. In the 14th they show up in several inventories of Scot lords such as the Earl of Dunbar. James II had a large amount, I think in the thousands, at hand in the 1450s.

All the testing I know of that has been done on crossbows and longbows with water and bad weather have showed no to very slight issues with cold. I think bad weather does very little to their overall use. They used them in northern Sweden which has some pretty harsh weather. I do not think it a big issue the rain or wet. The number of historic accounts detailing this is pretty low as well, no where like with firearms which anytime there is dampness the things fail.

RPM
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Jason Hollman




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The border Reivers display at Hexham Old Gaol Museum (although on the English side of the border) has a fair range of weaponry from the 15th C, through the Tudor period and into the 17th C representing arms used on both sides. Longbows and Crossbows were being used throughout the period, alongside all manner of firearms from the primitive pole gun to some rather evil looking 'home made' wheel lock hand guns. As the majority of Highland forces were raised from the general population (rather than a standing army of professionals with standardised kit) I would imagine that they would bring what they had to hand.

Recurve bows are pretty uncommon in the British Isles, they tend to be more common in areas where it was difficult to obtain suitable wood (The horn and sinew composite bows of the East for example) and an alternative technology had to be developed.

Yew staves were certainly being imported into England as early at the 15th Century, due to the supply of suitable native yew being almost exhausted. I believe at one point the demand was so high a tax was imposed whereby importers of luxury goods had to bring in a specified quantity of yew staves with every cargo (I'll try and find the reference, I think it's mentioned in Robert Hardy's excellent 'Longbow')

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 10:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason,

That is indeed an awesome museum. I'd love to get back to that area again. Hexham was also a very friendly place as well. My little family felt very welcome while traveling in the town.

You are right that yew was being imported to England, likely in the 14th as Southampton includes it on the list of tolled and not tolled items in the mid century. They are one of the most common item coming in Southampton's port books as well. I am not sure the yew supply in England was used up more that they found locations with better yew for bows. The same size bow in diameter from most English yew would have 20-30% less draw weight or even less, compared to yew from say Italy, Spain, Austria, etc. My guess is that the average Englishman could have been OK with native yew but they gents going to war would be requiring a better bow. Some recreations of yew bows using foreign and domestic wood have been very interesting in terms of difference in final poundage to bows of the same size.

There are two things the English kings did to get merchants to bring yew in. A duty free entry on yew and tax on other goods in yew from certain locations. It was also a diplimatic issue. The English try acquiring rights to yew from many countries and other countries use yew to make deals with the English. The State Papers of Henry VIII are full of interesting examples of this.

RPM
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Jason Hollman




Location: Derby
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The supply of yew wasn't completely obliterated and careful husbandry continued to produce a supply of bow staves but growing timber suitable for a powerful war bow takes time and English yew is a notoriously knotty and twisty timber. The huge demand for long bows in England (The training of the general population from an early age by law indicates how essential this discipline was to the Country's defence) easily outstript the supply of good quality domestic timber. The supply of foreign yew (Italian was highly prized) seems to have provided a straighter timber better suited to the large bows required. Reports of bows over six feet in length are fairly common, modern reconstruction suggests draw weights of over 120lbs were not uncommon and the skeletal remains of archers combined with contempary descriptions of their physique show how constant practice changed the bodies of these men making the continuous use of such a fearsome weapon possible for periods far longer than most modern archers could endure. The long bow in the hands of an experienced archer could outshoot most firearms up to the arrival of the repeating rifle.

Getting back to the original topic of the thread, the Jacobite forces in the 1745 still included some archers armed with longbows, presumably these weapons were still being used for hunting in the highlands. I would imagine a powerful longbow would be superior to a musket when stalking deer, less chance of a missfire, faster to reload,less noise and no stink of powder smoke to alert the game.

'A Stafford! A Stafford!'
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 4:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason Hollman wrote:
Getting back to the original topic of the thread, the Jacobite forces in the 1745 still included some archers armed with longbows, presumably these weapons were still being used for hunting in the highlands. I would imagine a powerful longbow would be superior to a musket when stalking deer, less chance of a missfire, faster to reload,less noise and no stink of powder smoke to alert the game.


Very interesting, I hadn't heard that before.

Could you include your references?

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am not aware that archers were part of the Jacobite array. Could you cite some references?
Lin Robinson

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Jason Hollman




Location: Derby
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm covered in confusion, teach me to quote unsupported sources!
After hurried consultation I have a mention of it, but there is no supporting documentry evidence after the 1698!

I shall retire to the Dark Room and apply the birch!

'A Stafford! A Stafford!'
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Jeffrey McClain




Location: Richmond Heights MO
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Primitive archery magazine published an article on this exact subject in its spring addition. Scottish bows were very similar to the english bows but the article went on to name a few Scottish bowyer who gained well know prominence. There still is a strong tradition of archery in Scotland, blbsscotland.com and the Royal company of Archers, the personal bodyguards to the royal family on official state visit, trace its lineage to the 16th or 17th century i believe.
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey McClain wrote:
Primitive archery magazine published an article on this exact subject in its spring addition. Scottish bows were very similar to the english bows but the article went on to name a few Scottish bowyer who gained well know prominence. There still is a strong tradition of archery in Scotland, blbsscotland.com and the Royal company of Archers, the personal bodyguards to the royal family on official state visit, trace its lineage to the 16th or 17th century i believe.


http://www.blbsscotland.co.uk/

Fixed your link. Interesting website!

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Wed 25 May, 2011 7:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey guys I though you all might be interested in this http://www.squidoo.com/highland-recurved-bow some of the info here might be a bit off but its handy to have all of the depictions of highland bows in one place.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2021 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I have been doing some research on 16th Century Scotland and ran across something a bit relevant to the last bits of discussion here, plus I have open questions.

First, on crossbows. I ran across a very interesting source called "The History of the Campaignes 1548 and 1549" (etc.) by Jean de Beaugué, first published in Paris in 1556. De Beaugué was a French soldier fighting with the Scots and against the English from 1548 and 1549 during the last part of the fighting of the "Rough Wooing", a series of invasions or incursions begun by Henry VIII (who died before it ended).

There is an English translation of this book on Google Books here

https://books.google.com/books?id=POhEhgztHHwC&pg=PA21&vq=%22him%20upon%20his%20Back%2C%20and%20in%20this%20Plight%20brought%20him%20to%20our%20Camp%3B%20where%20we%22&source=gbs_quotes_r&cad=5&fbclid=IwAR32nD8zsMQLAnWgfvujC9UauA6hpQrp-mUwvtIOGa3OJA9Pd3luSuePH4E#v=onepage&q=%22him%20upon%20his%20Back%2C%20and%20in%20this%20Plight%20brought%20him%20to%20our%20Camp%3B%20where%20we%22&f=false

Both armies were well equipped and fielded skilled mercenaries from the continent, they had many cannon and troops armed with firearms, including arquebusiers, musketeers, and German reiter cavalry armed with pistols. But interestingly, in this late date, the Scots and French also used crossbowmen, both as infantry and mounted.

This is one short passage from the book which mentions their use during a siege:

"A soldier of Gascony bended his crossbow, and from thence shot twice in upon the enemy, with the same unconcernedness as if he had been shooting at game merely for sport, then returned to us safe and unhurt.”


The English of course were also still using longbows. Scottish light cavalry are often mentioned carrying a crossbow they called a 'latch', which appears to have been a latchett crossbow. This is mentioned and depicted in the Osprey book on Border Reivers, though not much detail is given.

It certainly seems that crossbows were still in some significant use in the mid-16th Century in the British Isles at least.


What I'm still trying to figure out right now is about this 'Highland bow', also apparently used in Ireland and the Western Isles. I have run across various allusions or brief mentions of this weapon, and have seen both the Lucas de Heere woodcuts and the Dürer etching of the Gallowglass. Bows which seem to be shorter than longbows are also depicted in Hollingshead's chronicles. But I haven't been able to find out much about the weapon and would like to nail it down a bit better. If anyone knows anything else about it since this thread quietly died ten + years ago, please chime in. Especially if you know any good sources!

Jean de Beaugué describes Scots 'who inhabite the Islands of Orkney"of Orkney" as carrying 'large bows' and skirmishing successfully with the English using these, before being intimidated by cannon fire:

"The Scots, who inhabit the islands of Orkney, and those of the South, being assembled in great numbers at Edinburgh, in obedience to the queen's commands, came and joined us in the camp, and were very good company to us for the space of 18 or 20 days. They skimished very often and very early with the enemy; Nay, they entered into action before they gave themselves the leisure to enter the camp, for they had not thought of taking up their quarters when 5 or 600 stole away from the main body, marched close as they were wont to do, when upon martial expecitions, and run to rights to the gate of Hadingtoun:

They wore coat of mail, each had a large bow in his hand; and their quivers , swords, and shields hang as 'twere in a sling: They were follow'd by several Highlanders; and these last go almost naked, they have painted waist-coats, and a sort of woolen covering variously coloured, and ar armed as the rest with large bows, broad swords, and targets.

There was not one of them, who gave not convincing proofs, that they stood in now awe of the English, they beat off their advanced guards in a minute, with a volley of arrows and then with sword in hand advanced upon 5 or 600 that were posted between the port and the barriers; but the noise of the artillery, which they had not been acquainted, soon quelled their courage. The Highlanders shut their ears, and threw themselves on their bellies at each shot of the cannon."


It's clear that the Scots sometimes used English style longbows, but many illustrations depict Scots using shorter bows, and sometimes as in the de Heere illustration weapons which appear to be recurved or reflex. I'm very curious about how these weapons were made and sourced, I assume locally.

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