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Rod Parsons

Location: UK
Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Reading list: 11 books

Posts: 154

PostPosted: Mon 12 Jun, 2006 12:07 pm    Post subject: ELB or not 2B?         Reply with quote

To go back to some of the earlier points made about the origins of the English bow. It seems probable looking at the neolithic artefacts in NW Europe that the long bow, commonly in yew, had been the predominant type in the region since at least the neolithic, accepting a considerable range of variation in width and cross section.
There are bows that could be justifiably be called long flatbows, or transitional bows.
See "The Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society" 1963 article by JGD Clark.
The mesolithic Stellmoor artefact, lost in a WW2 bombing raid, suggests a longbow in pine, dating from a period when yew was not readily available in those latitudes.

As Mike correctly observes, one should be careful of certain "authorities" namely those who's knowledge of archery is questionable and who were (and unfortunately still are in some quarters) taken as being definitive authorities since they have been so often quoted.

It is a fact that where yew was not available or was less available, wych elm was a wood of choice, beimg common amongst Viking bow artefacts . Ash can be used and occurs, but ideally requires a design with wider more shallow section, being less reliable in compression with a narrow D section belly and is better employed in making a long flatbow, such as an American Eastern Woodlands type.
The sensible bowyer does not usually try to make a longbow precisely to yew bow section and dimensions in a alternative bow wood since the sapwood/heartwood combination in yew makes it uniquely suitable for the "ELB" design.

Nor does the strict D section of the late Victorian/Edwardian makers of the gentleman's sporting bow (as transmitted by most 19thC and early 20thC "authorities") necessarily strictly define an English long bow. This is another piece of misinformation which has gained a specious authority by being often repeated.
First of all define which kind of English long bow we are discussing....

A Scottish great uncle (who was known to take a deer once in a while) was a firm partisan of rowan for a bow wood, and rowan will make a bow very like yew, as will ERC (Eastern Red Cedar, which is a juniper, not a cedar) even so far as keeping a pale sapwood back.

As to the Welsh or the Scandinavians or anyone else post mesolithic/early neolithic "inventing" the "English" longbow is arrant nonsense. True the captains of Edward 1 learnt something from the Welsh about the efficacy of archery in wooded and mountainous terrain against the heavy cavalry which was at the heart of Norman military power.
But they also learnt a good deal about total force mobility from the crossborder incursions of the Scots.
These same Anglo-Norman captains also applied the same lessons in very short order against in particular, the Scots and the French.

As for the Welsh bow being "flat" I think it unlikely.The well known extant contemporary drawing looks like nothing more or less than a very knotty and thick longbow of possibly shorter than average length, which is entirely possible and not unlikely given Welsh terrain and tactics. I don't know who started the flat bow canard, but they probably had nothing better to do.

"ELB" is of course purely American shorthand for the longbow. Which itself was in it's day only known as a bowe, or more specifically an English bowe where differentiation was felt necessary.
The term longbow arose quite late in the history of the English bow, and only to distinguish it terminologically from the cross bow.
Finally a nice point which might outrage or amuse you according to your disposition.
Here in the UK it is properly referred to as "the" longbow, all other variants are only ever "a" longbow.
An American "traditional" longbow is, of course, an AFB (American Flatbow). The longbow is an LB in sporting abbreviation. ;-)

Last edited by Rod Parsons on Tue 13 Jun, 2006 1:58 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Rod Parsons

Location: UK
Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Reading list: 11 books

Posts: 154

PostPosted: Mon 12 Jun, 2006 2:10 pm    Post subject: Old artefact         Reply with quote

Probably the oldest bow artefact in the UK is the Rotten Bottom bow in Edinburgh, so bows have been around in Scotland for a long time. But culturally speaking, it was more of a hunting or ambush weapon. Bows tend not to be so greatly in evidence where the custom was to confront your foe, recite your antecedents and your own prowess, listen to him do the same and then come to hand strokes.
Using a bow in such a context would probably have more often than not been seen as demeaning to those involved where personal prestige was of great importance to a numerically small class of warrior/hunters.
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Jim Corrigan

Joined: 19 Jul 2008

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat 19 Jul, 2008 5:38 pm    Post subject: halberd         Reply with quote

i wanted to ask you to contact me about the cost of a halberd
Jim Corrigan
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