Somewhere around ten thousand years ago in scattered parts of the world, the bow was starting to replace or supplement the spear and the atlatl. European archeological sites and records reveal rich evidence of prototypic self longbows of the flat variety going back about 9,000 years, and others with deep "D" sections reaching back perhaps 5,000 years.
Select replicas of some of these ancient European weapons are offered as well as some of the bows of modern history. Bows from Poland and Hungary are in the Eastern Asian section because their archery origins are in Asia more than in Europe.
The Holmegarrd by Fleming Alrune of Denmark
The artifacts of this replica are in the Copenhagen Museum, some 60 miles east of the Holmegarrd bog where they were found, layer dated at about 9,000 years old. The principal bow is broken at the handle but still has evidence of being nicely finished. Made from elm saplings taken near that bog into a 69" bow, 2+" limbs at the widest point, and a 6+" brace height. The uniqueness of this architecture is that the limbs abruptly narrow about a foot from the tips from the viewpoint of the belly, but from a side view the limbs thicken at that same point. Nocks are simply bulbous rings of red deer sinew fixed in hide glue. Linseed oil finish. String is Irish Flax treated many times with beeswax, rather than replicating sinew, plant fiber, or rawhide strings. A 60# bow with a 28" draw casts a 550 grain arrow at 160 fps. Some hand shock, but a deadly weapon, and an incredible tribute to the intelligence of these very ancient peoples.
Matching pine or viburnum arrows with gray goose or mute swan fletchings fastened with tar and sinew, with field points, or with knapped flint.
Meare Heath and Ashcott
The roots for these two models may reach back a little over 4,000 years and are based on artifacts pulled from bogs in England. The Meare Heath is a paddle type bow with very wide limbs extending clear out to the tip. Limbs were usually bound with sinew (probably in geometric patterns). The Ashcott is a narrow and deep limbed bow resembling the Victorian English longbow. Both custom made to specifications by Hilary Greenland in England.
More recent European Traditions
English Longbow by Richard Head
A dramatic triple laminate traditional English longbow with a purpleheart core, lemon wood belly, and hickory back, set off with black horn nocks and a superb braid handle trimmed in leather decorated with gold leaf. Meticulously polished finish. No shelf; mother of pear striker plates on both sides. Also hickory backed lemon wood models available. (Cannot export yew bows from England.)
Head longbow may be matched with English influence quiver originally designed by Larry Snell and current made by other makers and a dozen arrows by Michael Reape from Germany or a set of 8 footed Victorian target arrows by Richard Head.
Unique reproduction of a type of bow from Abbey of Bows in Lausanne, Switzerland from the 1800s, but dating back to the 1500s in Italy as well. Limbs are reflexed by about 4" and are of a medium oval shape in cross section. Bow pictured is of a rare French timber called libernum. Orders will usually be of another substitute such as osage. Carved horn tips. Bows made by well-know bowyer Chris Boyton who apprenticed under the legendary but now deceased Richard Galloway.
Renaissance Recurved Longbow
Inspired by bows used by the Italian armies in the 14th and 15th centuries (documented by Alessio Cenni). 68" for draws up to 27" and 70" for draws up to 29" Exotic dark hardwood core sandwiched between laminations of light colored wood such as lemon wood. Made by Hilary Greenland of Sylvan Archery. Wrapped calfskin handle.
Heavy duty sock, special stringer, and extra two-color string at extra fees. Footed arrows to match the core wood of the bow, brass bullet points, self nocks, shield fletchings, set of 6.
English arrow materials
Several dozen styles of medieval arrowheads by leading makers in England, hand forged.
English War Arrow, heavy, thick ash shaft, laced fletchings, horn reinforced self nock, with very large hand-forged broadhead by Richard Head in England. Something very similar to this piece formed the “rain of arrows” in battles such as Agincourt, and Crecy.
Welchman English Longbow
Fantastic work of art made by Gerald Welch of Alaska from fine Cascade yew cut at 4,000 feet tipped with light-colored horn and with a wrapped strip leather handle. Light-colored layer on the back is sapwood plus a layer of rawhide added for preservation. 75" long. Two dacron strings and a nice green felt sock with a soft leather tie. Also ask about the self yew & laminated longbows of Jay St. Charles at Pacific Yew, Inc
Agincourt (a novel) by Bernard Cornwell, 2008.
Great Britain: HarperCollins. Faithful to the history and it makes the age fascinating even to those with a peripheral interest in the great archery battles of England. $27.99.
An Archer Looks at the Bible by David F. Hill.
Covering Biblical history from 800 B.C. and examining the 130 references to the bow and arrow in the Old and New Testament and the Apocrypha. Rather rare, 100 pages. Forward by Robert Hardy. $33.00.
“Ancient European Bows” by Paul Comstock, 1993.
In Traditional Bowyer’s Bible, Volume II. Texas; Bois d’Arc Press. $22.95
Bows of the World by David Gray, 2002.
New York: The Lyons Press. Available by search only.
Longbow: A Social and Military History by Robert Hardy, 1976, and 1992.
Paper 224 pages. Texas: Bois d’Arc Press.
Medieval Archery by Jim Bradbury.
From the Norman Conquest to the War of the Roses, a thorough but very readable account of the battles in which the bow was decisive. Challenges a number of myths. $20.00.
Secrets of the English War Bow by Hugh D. Soar, 2006.
Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing. $35.00.
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
A new beautifully illustrated release of an old classic. A feast of adventure, archery, history, and romance. $25.00.
The Bow: Some Notes on its Origin and Development by Gad Rausing (chemist , archeologist, and archer).
Extremely valuable collection on the origins of archery around the world, and of implements since the time of Christ. For example, about eight pages on ancient Avar and Magyar bows. Valuable drawings. Slightly oversized cloth, 200 pages. $79.
The Crooked Stick: A History of the Longbow by Hugh D. Soar, 2005.
Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing. $24.95.
The Great Warbow: From Hastings to the Mary Rose by M. Strickland and Robert Hardy, 2005.
England: Sutton Publishing Limited. Hardback, oversized , 539 pages. $58.95.
The Military Archer At Sea by Hugh David Soar.
A 24-page outline of the use of the bow at sea by European archers when the bow was a major weapon. $3.00.
The Traditional Archer’s Handbook: A Practical Guide by Hilary Greenland.
On shooting and making implements, mostly for the beginner. 91 pages, $11.
Toxophilus by Roger Ascham, originally in the early 1500s, reprinted 2002.
Manchester England: The Simon Archery Foundation. $24.00.