Archers Review celebrated it's first birthday last month, while we officially launched on January 1st this year we took our first steps on to the web back on the 15th October last year. Over 250 reviews and articles, 10 magazine issues, 1058 images, a couple of hundred thousand visits and many miles later Steve, Geoff and I find ourselves with a site we are hugely proud of. Some of you may have noticed that the monthly magazine has changed so that it now refers to Issues rather than a specific month, we were finding that the pressure to release a magazine each and every month mean that some were longer than others and rather than release a huge one or a smaller one it would be better to release them once we had something to say.
Well this time we really do have something to say and the burden has fallen on Geoff as he was the one out and about. We were very pleased to give our support to the James Whale Kidney Foundation shoot which we cover in this months magazine. We were also contacted by Lars Pilø with news on the archery related finds on Jovfonna, and while we couldn't get out there ourselves Lars kindly filled in some background information for us.
Steve has a go at building his own bow and Geoff once again takes us back in time. Now we have gone to a new release schedule you might want to sign up for out magazine email service so that you are the first to know when the magazine is released, there are further details at the bottom if you are interested.
High on the flank of Norway’s largest peak, the Galdhoepiggen, 8000 feet, home to the legends of the old Norse gods, a small party of archaeologists work quietly and quickly, the season is short and there is much to be done.
Up to now the season’s results have found over 600 remains in 22 of 40 ice patches so far investigated and the team continue their efforts to rescue what still lies under the ice, only 100 to go. Next season (2011) he hopes to add a further group to his own and in so doing rescue more of what lies beneath.
We at Archer’s Review are very grateful to our Norwegian Friends for contacting us, taking the time to answer our questions, sending pictures of the finds and a short video of the Juvfonna. We look forward to next year’s investigations and will, of course keep you informed of any research that is released to us…
We had a few questions to put to Lars Pilo and kindly he took the time to tell us a little about the project.
Q; Were they migratory, or did the people live in the valley below.
They probably lived in the valleys, mostly as farmers, but there are some hunters graves in the mountains as well
Q; Why were so many artefacts left lying around.
Arrows were probably shot into the snow when the hunters missed their target (and see below)
Q; Were hunters overcome by a blizzard. A late hunt, last food for winter.
May have happened, but we have no evidence for that. Modern corpses are known from glaciers, but generally corpses don’t preserve well in ice patches/glaciers (Ötzi being one exception!)
Q; The leather shoe has been dated at 3,400 yrs, it seems the majority of the finds are up to 1000 years old, how has the shoe become mixed up with the later artefacts.
The artefacts are found in ice patches (none-moving ice masses) which accumulate over time. When they melt the outer younger layers melt first, and the finds get progressively older as the ice melts. However, sometimes older ice melts at an earlier stage (it’s a little complicated, has to do with the angle/slope of the ice), producing older finds together with more recent ones,
Q; Has the glacier receded before
Again, these are not glaciers, but non-moving ice masses. Glaciers move and contain little old ice and thus no artefacts from prehistoric times. About 6000 years ago there was no ice in the Jotunheimen mountains due to the Holocene Climate Optimum. Ice started accumulating from then, but has been melting again in some periods. Very heavy melting has been happening in the last ten years (this is where our findings get mixed up in the climate change debate, but let us not get into that here ) .
Q; Are there any bows/ bowstrings, if so what manufacture.
No bow strings. One bow, of hazel.
Q; What wood used for arrows. Spine, etc.
Birch and pine, but needs to looked further into.
Q; What metals used in arrow heads etc.
Iron. Sometimes bone.
Q; Any hunters campsites found on the mountain.
Yes, they are quite numerous, including both buildings and tent sites.
Q; Why didn’t the hunters re-gather the flapping sticks. Q3?
They were probably of little value, and left on the sites, sometimes as a fixed installation for use on the next hunt. They would then be buried by snow
Q' Apart from shoe, are all finds dated to around 300 AD.
So far, but as we date more finds and older ice melts we expect do get older dates. Hunting implements found in ice patches in North America date back to 10000 BP – but that of course is atlatl-technology at this early date.
Q; How much more do you expect to find.
Hard to say. Some ice patches yield > 500 artefacts, some only one or two. 22 ice patches with finds so far of 40 surveyed. Still about 100 to check out…
Q; How much time have you got left before the glacier recedes and starts to uncover the, as yet undiscovered artefacts and so potentially lose them
Depends on the material. The time window for collecting leather objects and feathers after they melt out of the ice is probably < 1 week, while wood may preserve up to 10 years (but the preservation get worse every time they are exposed)
Q; When does your season begin and end.
August-September, between snow melt and new winter snow. Normally about four weeks, depending on snow conditions. Also fieldwork may be interrupted due to snow fall during the field season
Q; Do you have a team working on the mountain if so how many.
This year we had one time of three persons. Next year we hope to bring two teams into the mountains.
All images and video are courtesy of Lars pilo and the klimapark project and website which can be found here....
A full selection of Photos of the finds can be found here...
I am sure that there cannot be an archer out there that hasn't at some point wanted to make their own bow, I wouldn't be at all surprised to note that there are also a huge number of folk who only shoot bows they have made themselves. In the UK there was a new class developed just for the folks who want to make and shoot their own home made primitive style bows.
If you do decide to make your own bow you will first have to decide upon the style. There are any number of books offering advice to the would be bowyer, most notably the "Bowyers Bible", with these 4 volumes it is possible to build just about any design bow that has ever been thought up..
There is however, nothing like being "shown" how to do something by a real person, someone who knows exactly what you should and shouldn't be doing, having a bowyer on hand to correct any errors or more importantly prevent them from being made in the first place will enable you to learn quickly and efficiently.
If you have an inkling that an English longbow would be your bow of choice then you are in luck because Lee Ankers from Heritage Longbows has equipped his spacious workshop with several work stations designed to offer bow making classes to those who are either after an interesting woodworking experience or archers who really want to make their own bows.
We were invited along by Lee to test run one of his bow building workshops, the cost starts at £175 for a 2 day instructional and even includes lunch at the local pub. He is based in Cannock, Staffordshire so if you are not within striking distance you will need to arrange some accommodation - we stayed at a local hotel just a 45 second drive from the venue, Lee has links with local hotels and B&B's which will cater to a range of budgets.
Together with my bow building companion Wayne we travelled up on a Tuesday morning. One of the great attractions of the Heritage bow making classes is that they operate when you want rather than on set dates, this way you can fit them into your schedule when it is convenient, we found this very appealing and is sure to mean that there will be a steady stream of archers beating a path to his doors.
Given that we had just 2 days to produce a bow, Lee had questioned us closely on the bow we hoped to make. For my part I wanted a fast shooting Longbow of moderate weight - hopefully 50# to use for field shooting. I had in mind a laminated bow of Ipe and Lemonwood backed with Bamboo - having taken all my details as regard shooting style, draw length etc Lee suggested that he would have the stave glued the day before, otherwise we would spend a good part of our 2 days waiting for glue to dry.
Upon arrival we were presented with the glued up staves, Lee knew I wanted fast as I had mentioned it several times, I was delighted to find he had introduced a set back in the limbs at the glue up stage - something I had meant to ask for but had forgotten - this short cut is a sensible way to run a 2 day course and we were fully briefed as to how the stave had been cut and glued. At 75" in length it was basically just 3 layers of wood glued together.
Lee's methods are simple and straightforward, as is his manner. Having spent most of his adult life working with wood it is obvious he has an affinity with the stuff making everything he does look deceptively easy.
The best way to learn to do something is to copy someone who knows what they are doing and this is exactly what happens, Wayne, myself and Lee each have a stave, Lee approaches the task in small stages showing clearly what he is doing with his stave, you then copy what he has shown you while he watches and makes sure you cut or scrape neither too much nor too little.
In many ways Lee is a traditionalist, he likes his bows to come "full compass", he uses horn for the arrow pass and the nocks, a great advantage that he has is that he is a British champion with a Longbow so knows exactly what he is looking for in a bow. In other ways some might feel that the use of power tools and traditional bow making do not go together - I am not one of those. I had come to produce a bow and it would be daft to pretend that things like band saws, routers, linishers and belt sanders do not exist. lee is not precious about the bow having to be made with just ones hands and a cabinet scraper..
Because of the introduced set back of the limbs the marking out is a tricky business, at least it would be if Lee wasn't so experienced, in the short time it took to explain how he would mark out the bow and where the lines that we would be working with would go, he had already done it. Slowly and carefully we tried to mimic his positive pencil strokes.
the next job was to cut it out on the band saw - Lees bow positively zipped through the saw in smooth confident sweeps and within a couple of minutes looked bow shaped - I have used a band saw before but even so knowing that every saw cut will affect the final bow produced is both exciting and nerve wracking.
There is still a lot of wood to come away from the bow which will need it's back rounded - this bit is important, I know this from previous attempts I have made to make a longbow, if the back isn't uniform in terms of curve then you will be introducing twist into the limbs which will be the devil of a job to get out - especially for the inexperienced bowyer. I just loved Lee's solution, using an upturned router on his home made jig template he runs his bow across it twice each end and instantly transforms his stave into something which looks very much bow shaped.
A steady hand and cool head are required for this approach to pay dividends and with Lees careful coaching we both produce very acceptable results. Lunch is an excellent steak & kidney pie and chips washed down with a couple of well deserved beers.
With much still to do we arrive back to really get in to the shaping of the bows with the bowyers greatest tool the cabinet scraper - I am feeling quite bold after the beer and shavings are soon flowing from my stave as the bow is shaped, the first job is to round the limbs over the last 7 to 10 inches at each end and prepare the wood to accept a horn nock.
Lee has developed his own procedures and techniques whilst making bows, one of which is that he likes to put the nocks on and tiller with those rather than use tillering grooves, he says it saves time, so as soon as the ends were finished to his and our satisfaction......... we were each given the horn.
One horn tip will make both nocks if drilled and cut correctly, this turned out to be great fun because it is hard to see how a lump of horn stuck on the end of you bow will become a nock.
One thing I most definitely like about the Heritage Longbow style of nock is it's small neat appearance - I am not really into a huge lump of horn at the tip of my bow regardless of how ornate it might look - I prefer my tips light for speed.
Lee demonstrates real skill on the belt sander, moving the bow and horn effortlessly over the fast moving belt. we were so mesmerised by the technique that I hardly smelt the powerful pungent aroma of burnt horn. We took considerably longer to complete our nocks as one false move will leave you with either half a nock or half a hand. I was particularly pleased with the neat result I was able to achieve under lees guidance.
Back to the benches to work down the edges and sharper corners on the bow and all too soon the day had escaped us.
The second day started with a briefing on how we would take our bows from here to the tillering stage and through to the finish. Watching Lee with his scraper take long measured shavings from the length of the bow we were starting to get to grips with the pressure and fluid motion required. After a short while we were holding very passable bows, the next couple of hours were crucial as the bows were put on to the tiller and slowly teased out over the first few inches of draw -Lee explained each time the bows were drawn where we should be taking wood from, he was able to read the bow and advise " take 12 passes from here". The bows were off and on the tiller as we slowly but surely took small amounts of wood away and the bows started to come round up to first 15" then 20" and finally 29" for mine. My draw is 28" and although Lee likes to tiller his bows out to 30" I was happy that I would not be drawing further than my standard 28" so for me 29" was just fine.
Quickly a string was applied and the first shots taken on Lee's personal indoor range. I was hugely pleased to note that the bow had very little hand shock indeed, much less than I had expected and much less than most Longbows I have shot. Part of this may be down to lee's insistence that the arrow pass is placed exactly at half way which he claims makes the limbs work much more in unison - true or no, there is no doubt that Heritage bows have very little hand shock at all.
The final finish is your choice and I decided I didn't want a handle, the arrow pass was inserted by drilling out a small shallow hole and a disc of horn cut from a rod was placed in it. I also preferred a wax finish and after 2 coats of sanding sealer we applied a wax coat with the use of a drill and linisher, in short time the finish of the wood was shining through.
To say I was pleased with the result is an understatement - there are few pleasures in archery that can match the shooting of a bow that one has made ones self, despite the help and advice from Lee I feel very much that this was a bow "I made"
The final article weighted in at 44#, somewhat under the 50# I had hoped for, which only goes to confirm what a skilled job making a longbow really is. However I was thrilled to find it would shoot an arrow around 155 fps which for a 44# stick I made myself is pretty quick..
You know what golfers are like. From the first amateurish slash ( and miss ) to some sort of proficiency, they pursue perfection from that moment on with an almost religious zeal. I say this, because it staggers me to find that at the Grove golf club in South Wales (Porthcawl ) the committee agreed to give up members precious game time on a Sunday afternoon for a bunch of archers, in aid of charity, to wander around their course shooting arrows into their hallowed fairways. In all my years in archery I have never had the opportunity to shoot archery golf on an actual golf course, the obvious reasons being that the members would object to give up their play so that strangers with an even stranger game would shoot big holes in the sacred turf, or, heaven forbid, set fire to it.
Ah! but we reckoned without the redoubtable James Whale and his assistants, Welsh beauties, JoAnne and Claire Popham to come up trumps. They organised what they hope will be an annual event to aid the charity, James Whale Kidney Cancer Foundation, at the Grove.
What a super event it was too! Wonderfully organised.
Where is my Navy? Where are my supplies? Where, in God’s name, is Wallace?
Edward was in a tight spot.
It was July 20th 1298 and his army was on the verge of mutiny.
Camped at Kirkliston, ten miles West of Edinburgh, Edward’s huge army of 20,000 had run out of food. Wallace’s tactic of laying waste before the invading host was paying big dividends. He knew full well that the English commissariat could not handle so many men and animals for very long over so great a distance. Bickering between the Welsh contingent of archers and the Anglo Gascon soldiery fuelled by wine had, for the second time, broken out into outright drunken violence, the Welsh accusing, ( not without substance ) the Saxons of giving them very short commons. Re- acting with characteristic swiftness, not to say, ruthlessness Edward, with his knights rode into the Welsh camp and killed eighty of them, telling them to grumble at that if they would and not make pots of their bellies.
The Kings navy, laden with provisions and pay for the army, had set forth from English ports three weeks since, in joint operation with the punitive land army, which crossed the border with Scotland at Coldstream on July the 3rd 1298. Instructed by Edward to make rendezvous at Leith, the ships of the Royal Navy battled a Nor Easterly, strong, persistent and unforgiving. Failing in their endeavour the ships put into port all along the Northumbrian coast to await the prevailing South Westerly, unfortunately in so doing caused Edwards army to eat their shoe leather.
The time honoured Norman tactic of laying waste to an enemy’s homeland in the hope of drawing him out to fight had not succeeded, Wallace had done it for him. Wallace, now Sir William, knighted after his victory at Stirling bridge, had remained elusive, at large in the hinterland and wastes of Scotland, seemingly not wishing to challenge so large an army face to face. Fabian tactics were working very well, so why risk it? Let us wait awhile. Especially with Edward at the helm
Strangely, something changed. Just as Edward was contemplating retirement on Edinburgh, the victualing of his army now critical and his campaign in serious difficulty, Scots turncoat riders* came in to report that Wallace was no more than twenty miles to the North West and making ready to attack Edward as he retreated. This was on the morning of the 21st July.
According to Guisboro* Edward exclaimed ‘ Praise be to God who has delivered me of all difficulties, they shan’t have to follow me for I shall go to meet them this very day’. For some reason the tactics that Wallace had skilfully employed up to that time and had proved so successful that Edward was outmanoeuvred tactically, if not strategically, were abandoned for the risky proposition of full assault on the powerful English. Perhaps his victory at Stirling had misled him as to the fighting prowess and endurance of a Saxon host? Who knows? But that is what he intended to do. However learning of the approach of Edward and realising his strategy had failed Wallace sought a position that would give him every advantage in a pitched battle knowing he would be outnumbered at least 2:1
The position he chose was on a small ridge East of the town of Falkirk. At the bottom of an easy slope lay a small stream which watered boggy ground, this lay to his front. Behind his army was the forest of Callendar, behind that lay Falkirk itself. It was not until the 22nd of July that Edward came up to Wallace’s position, due to famine his forces somewhat stretched out. Wanting to camp and rest his famished army Edward issued orders to that effect. However, his senior commanders remonstrated with him that any delay would hand the initiative back to Wallace and lay the army open to surprise attack. Eventually the King agreed and the attack was ordered. Edward sent the heavy cavalry on ahead, pin the Scots to their position and await himself with main force, giving instructions, on no account were they to attack from their own initiative. He might well as talked to the moon. The temptation upon seeing the Scots drawn up was too much.
The first of 1500 heavies of the English cavalry were led by the Earls Lincoln, Hereford and Norfolk, under the overall command of the usually competent and level headed William Marshall. a second line again 1500 strong, commanded by the warlike Bishop of Durham Antony Bek were to follow after the first and likewise charge the Scots position. On the ridge opposite the Scots confidently awaited the Saxon onslaught drawn up in the tactic of the Schiltrons, circles of men armed with an ash spear twelve feet in length similar to Alexander’s phalanx. On this day, the Scots were arranged in four circles each containing 2000 men, the front rank kneeling whilst the second and third rank stood. It is presumed that they had their shields interlocking, a shield wall. Between them around 700 archers from the forest of Selkirk and Ettrick using the short bow of limited poundage and effectiveness. All along the front and flanks stakes were driven linked together with ropes to assist in the break up of cavalry charges. behind the whole army stood 1000 Scots Barons commanded by the Red Comyn, which constituted the cavalry. Altogether a strong position, or it would have been if the revolution in archery that was about to open and descend upon the heads of the unfortunate Scotsmen. But we get ahead of ourselves.
The battle opened with the younger English Barons not waiting for Edward with main force to come up, full of vim and vigour, but not much sense, charged without orders from their slight slope down to what looked like a small insubstantial stream, however the stream fed a swamp and the cavalry bearing down upon it realised too late the nature of the ground and became mired in the muck, the Ettrick archers making merry hell with them. Edward coming up with his veterans vented his anger on the unfortunate Bishop Bek for the temerity of the Barons and their stupidity, this was why Edward was there dammit!, no more Stirling bridges or anything else of like. Furious at the incompetence unfolding before him and seeing the young men starting to extricate themselves from the swamp he ordered the Bishop to take his horsemen and envelope the Scots right, assist their comrades out of their predicament. The leading horsemen extracted themselves and taking their cue from the Bishop now swarming up the left slope, recovered their poise and bypassing the swamp attacked from their right, the left of the Scots army. Unable to penetrate the hedgehog of long spears and tripping on the interconnecting rope hedge the cavalry, sustaining heavy losses, turned instead to attack the unprotected archers who were operating between the schiltrons and destroyed them. Edward, seething, at Marshalls foolishness, lack of grip and Lincoln’s stupidity, recalled his cavalry seeing their loss and ineffectiveness against the massed circles and the steadiness of the Scots infantry. This was not what he had planned.
Now opens the long gestating revolution in English battlefield tactics, since the early days against the Welsh Princes. The heavy archer now appears, as a regular component on the medieval battlefield. Unable at Stirling Bridge to affect what unfolded there, Edward now brought forward these men with their huge bows and arrows the size of small javelins, to see, for the first time what they could do en mass on a major battlefield.
The first phase of the battle was now over, the Barons made to pay for their impetuosity and not for the first time, their hubris. They did not know it, but in more ways than one, their time was passing.
Edward in the Van ward ( becoming the centre ) arrived on the field and awaited the rest of his army to come up, it’s restored discipline, determined marching intending to impress and un nerve the Scots. Moving forward and stopping 1000yds from the schiltrons. His heavy infantry, veterans from the fighting in France and Gascony, numbered 12,000. Of his archers, again veterans, numbered 5000 men. De Bigod commanded the middle ward and right wing, De Bohun the rear ward and the left wing.
The Scots were down to 8,000 men, but Wallace must still have felt confident, although they have lost all their archers, the schiltrons were as yet undefeated and if the English sent their infantry against the spearmen, they would suffer the same fate as the cavalry. Although Wallace’s schiltrons were strictly defensive, as long as they stayed in being and were not penetrated, survival could mean victory (Think of the immortal squares at Waterloo and what they achieved). If the men are steadfast, do not give in to their fears and do not run, all would be well and victory could be theirs, but it takes strong nerves, especially outnumbered 2:1 and by the look of things, no prospect of quarter.
Bishop Bek, now in his priest* mode holding mass in front of the army, the Scots doing the same, each man kneeling to touch the earth. Moments of unnatural quiet descending on the battlefield, both armies staring at each other across the shallow valley. Suddenly, Edward signalled his archers forward and broke the mood. The whole army moved to conform and protect the archers, on the wings the mauled cavalry did likewise. Crossing the stream and ascending the slope bringing the range down to 150yds the archers opened their account with withering volley’s straight into the schiltrons bringing down scores of men, dead and wounded. The Scots closed ranks, their spears like a forest, but split asunder, falling, the circles becoming smaller with each loose, archers pivoting as they had been taught, by the command of the centenars bringing new targets under their deadly hail, shooting steadily, without hurry, making sure. The Scots, having no effective reply to this new and shocking introduction to warfare started to waver, the heavy arrows penetrating everything and everyone, nothing could keep them out. The schiltrons were now opening, decimated by the unrelenting shooting. Irish slingers adding their contribution to the mayhem. The heavy infantry advanced, the archers job finished. The schiltrons now just a jumbled mass of dead and dying men heaped up, the horsemen roaring in from the wings rampaging, killing all the Scots who remained on the hill. But the Scots did not run, slashing with broadswords, cleaving with battleaxes …they were just the sma folk*, but they died like hero’s.
Stirling Bridge was avenged, the butchers bill was heavy the Scots losing 8000: 10000 men. Of the English, 100 horses 200 men ( approx ) in all
Sir William Wallace was one of those few with a horse available, fleeing before the English knights completed the encirclement, through the forest of Callendar, heading Northwards to Perth thence into the wastes of the Grampians with his remaining companions.
What of the Scottish horse? The Barons? They left the battlefield before it had started, odds of 3:1 suicidal ! ( always pragmatic )They lived to fight another day.
Wallace stood down as his country’s sole guardian, falling as the chroniclers say; ‘Into a deep depression’ He disappeared for 7 years until betrayed to the English at Robroyston by Sir John Menteith. Baron Sir John Menteith. (Always pragmatic ) they lived to betray another day.
Archers Review is dedicated to carrying on the great tradition of sharing archery knowledge, in many ways we are still re-discovering the skills of our forefathers, unlike just about any other competitive sport, in archery the learning never stops, as we grow as archers the enjoyment increases, so we invite you to share with us all the skills, tips and hints that will help us all to be the best archer we can be.
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