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Andrew V




Location: Wales, UK
Joined: 17 Jan 2018

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PostPosted: Thu 08 Aug, 2019 3:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just discovered this thread. I have a question about sinew over wood on prods; I found a ref in the Medieval Combat Society page on crossbows which says:

From the mid 12th century ... bows were used, copied from the bows of Asia, this type of bow was made from a wooden core to which the back was attached a thick layer of sinews held together by fish glue, but generally lacking the horn on the belly, see Josef Alm.

but I have seen virtually no comment or debate on this type of crossbow lath. I have made a low poundage yew and sinew prod and the advantages of the sinew are substantial in a short and highly stressed bow. Surely most wooden cross bows in Europe would have been sinewed in the 12th to 15th centuries?

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Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 10 Aug, 2019 8:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From what I understand it is made from a specific ligament that holds a horses head up. It's called the nuchal ligament.


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Andrew V




Location: Wales, UK
Joined: 17 Jan 2018

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sat 17 Aug, 2019 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, this is a 16th (?) century 2 axis crossbow currently in Stockholm. It has a wood and sinew lath with a stained parchment covering the sinew only. To my mind, this shows that heavy crossbows of high status were not exclusively equipped with either a steel or a 3 part horn-bow composite. I think this also demonstrates that these 2 part composite bows were a persistent technology that may have been more common than current theories suggest, i.e. only in cheap bows used by those who could not afford anything 'better'. It seems to me that if this lath were fully covered it would have been identified as a horn-bow, and, if this is the case, then there may be others in collections that have been incorrectly identified




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Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 19 Aug, 2019 3:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Andrew thanks for posting, very interesting and quite a beautiful crossbow. Can you explain the difference between the two and three part composite crossbow lathes? I wasn't aware of the distinction.
System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Andrew V




Location: Wales, UK
Joined: 17 Jan 2018

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue 20 Aug, 2019 2:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure, so a composite is a material, a 3-composite crossbow lath is (usually) a layer of wood, a layer of horn and a layer of sinew. A 2-composite crossbow is normally horn and sinew, typical of later horn-bows, but, it can also be a wood and sinew cross-bow as this is also made of 2 layers of material.

There is virtually no evidence for wood-and-sinew crossbow laths in literary sources that I have been able to find, but there are wood-and-sinew bows in the archaeological record - for instance the Berkhamsted bow seems to have been yew/sinew. I have a suspicion that writers of the period may not have felt a sinewed wooden bow unusual enough to warrant defining it - in 1382 German hunting ordinance instructs the hereditary master of the hunt to deliver to the Emperor on his visit, a crossbow with a bow of yew, a tiller of maple, a nut of ivory and a string of silk, (G. Landau., TheMCS web-page) - and I wonder if a yew bow, counted as only used by the poorest people in most sources, would have been a suitable presentation for the Emperor if it had not been sinewed, covered and decorated? Particularly as it is in a very high quality stock. Still that is entirely my supposition and I would be very glad to have it refuted or supported by someone more knowledgeable than me.

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