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Discuss English longbow vs. Viking longbow? at the General Archery Discussion & News within Archery Interchange UK Forums; There is a long tradition of longbows in Scandinavia going back to the time of ...
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    In the Red Russ's Avatar
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    English longbow vs. Viking longbow?

    There is a long tradition of longbows in Scandinavia going back to the time of the Vikings - our club in Copenhagen has plenty of enthusiastic followers (though I think the revival of the longbow for recreation & sport is fairly recent here).

    I've read that the English longbow originated in Wales in the 11th c. but don't know where the Viking's version of the longbow fits into the picture. Did Viking raiders bring the longbow back to Scandinavia from the British Isles? or did the Welsh borrow the idea from the Vikings? Can anyone shed any light on this one?
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    In the Blue Haywain's Avatar
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    From my memory of history at school I seem to remember that the viking longbow was around a lot longer than the English / Welsh longbow.

    In fact the design of the English Warbow (it wasn't called a longbow until a few hundred years later) came about because of the availability of woods used in it's construction, namely the yew stave.

    The viking bow I seem to remember was constructed differently, in that it was originally more of a flat bow in design, rather than D shaped in cross section like the English bow.

    I'm sure there may be others who's knowledge is greater than mine, but I hope this helps a little.

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    English longbow Vs viking longbow

    The oldest known example of an european bow was found in Denmark in 1943.The Holmegaard bow as it is known was almost 62"long and was estimated to have pulled about 57lb at26"

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    English longbow Vs viking longbow

    On Holmegaard bow,should have added that it was flatbow type and was approximately 9000 years old

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    In the Black
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    Even older than the holmegaard style bows are the stellmoor bows from northern germany (see the bowyers bible vol. 2). These are much more like the Mary Rose longbows in cross section and many other neolithic bows show a circular or D-ish shape. Several later (but still pretty old) bows have been found here in Somerset. These include D section and flat bows. It seems that both shapes have existed for a long time. Perhaps the prevalence of one or the other has depended upon local materials and the trade off between performance and ease of manufacture?
    tom

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    In the Blue Artemis's Avatar
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    The type of wood available was indeed one of the main reasons for the type of bow produced...There were bows of elm - which tended to be flatter in cross section. and bows of yew, which were more rounded in section and strangely did not always incorporate the sap wood...Welsh bows were rough and ready, made of elm and designed for shooting at close range; powerful, but not able to make much distance...The Welsh employed geurilla and ambush tactics rather then long range set battles..It was probably a marriage between the Welsh bow and the Saxon yew bow which produced the war bow as we think of it. Bows found at Nydam were mostly of yew although some were of pine.

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    I took a photo of the oldest bow in either Denmark (or possibly Scandinavia) while I was in Copenhagen:
    linky and you can see it's quite flat. But I think the flat bows are better for hunting than longbows which were more for warfare...I could be wrong.
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    all you need to know / remember is Agincourt and crecy.......welsh SAS longbow men

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    Vikings in clubs of Russia use such bows w w w.vikingsna.org/translations/hedeby%20bows/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Russ View Post
    T(though I think the revival of the longbow for recreation & sport is fairly recent here).
    I wouldn't agree that it is recent, although I guess that depends on your definition of recent.. But the numbers certainly do seem to be growing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Russ View Post
    I've read that the English longbow originated in Wales in the 11th c. but don't know where the Viking's version of the longbow fits into the picture. Did Viking raiders bring the longbow back to Scandinavia from the British Isles? or did the Welsh borrow the idea from the Vikings? Can anyone shed any light on this one?

    The Holmegaard is a flat bow and is made of Elm. However, the Hedby bows are Yew bows, made from the heartwood and sapwood the same as the English longbow. Its profile though is quite different. It tends to be rounder in section in the handle area and takes more of a shallow D towards the ends of the limbs.


    The limbs of the bows however bend back towards the belly of the bow. They have side nocks and the top limb has an iron nail in it that acts as a string stop, to stop it sliding down the bow.



    Hedeby was the largest Nordic city during the Viking Age and used to be the oldest city in Denmark. Denmark lost the territory on which Hedeby was located to Austria and Prussia in 1864 in the Second Schleswig War. As a result of these border movements, the site is now located in the province of Schleswig-Holstein in the extreme north of Germany. The name 'Hedeby' means the "town on the heath". Abandoned almost a thousand years ago,
    Hedeby became a principal marketplace because of its geographical location on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia (north-south), and between the Baltic and the North Sea (east-west). Between 800 and 1000 the growing economic power of the Vikings led to its dramatic expansion as a major trading centre.
    Hedeby is now by far the most important archaeological site in Schleswig-Holstein. A museum was opened next to the site in 1985.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._vikings_3.jpg

    As you say Russ, it is hard to know if they were an adaption taken from Britain, or brought to it. However, Hedeby bows were used at the battle between the Saxon forces of Edmund and those of the Vikings under Ubbe Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless in 869 near Thetford in Norfolk. The Danes won the day and the story goes that Edmund refused to renounce Christ and so the heathens shot him to death with their bows and arras. We also know that the Vikings were raiding into Wales in around 865. I'll leave you to work out for yourself how much that predates the 11th C...




    There is more info on the bows here.
    1

    All the best
    jb
    si vis pacem, para bellum

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    In the Blue Artemis's Avatar
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    Many thanks jb68 for some more information to add to my knowledge about early bows...

    Russ..there have been a nuimber of "revivals" of the longbow for recreation, that of the 18th century for example....In more recent times the revival began in 1950 when the BLBS was mooted, at a time when the steel bow and very early composites reigned supreme...for many years the BLBS only had around 200 members but this number rose dramatically in the 1980's when Hugh Soar took over, and when he retired 11 years later there were over 2,000...it was during his time that some archers began to ask about using heavier bows and the Standard Arrow meeting was born...things have moved on since then but the number of target and clout recreational longbow archers has stayed fairly static, while the numbers of those who want to shoot the heavier bow for roving, flight, and so forth has shot up.

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    In the Red jb.68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
    Many thanks jb68 for some more information to add to my knowledge about early bows...
    Thank you, I'm glad it was of use.


    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
    Russ..there have been a nuimber of "revivals" of the longbow for recreation, that of the 18th century for example....In more recent times the revival began in 1950 when the BLBS was mooted, at a time when the steel bow and very early composites reigned supreme...for many years the BLBS only had around 200 members but this number rose dramatically in the 1980's when Hugh Soar took over, and when he retired 11 years later there were over 2,000...it was during his time that some archers began to ask about using heavier bows and the Standard Arrow meeting was born...things have moved on since then but the number of target and clout recreational longbow archers has stayed fairly static, while the numbers of those who want to shoot the heavier bow for roving, flight, and so forth has shot up.
    Yep, I think you are spot on there especially with regard to roving, flight etc although I am seeing more longbows at clouts these days.
    I hope you don't mind me adding something. In the 70's there were a bunch of blokes who got into shooting the heavy bows. My memory for names is terrible, so forgive me, what I do know though is that one of these people was Chris Boyton. Now these guys were shooting big bows but with light arras and getting mixed results, it wasn't until a young Mr Stanley came along and started talking about 1/2" shafts and consequently heavier arras, that distances increased.
    To go more into it would lead off topic, but I think it important to remember that without these guys, the current revival of heavy bows may not even exist.

    Btw the 1800's revival is the only time in its history when the use of the longbow in England was almost exclusively the pleasure of the upper classes. Until that time it was always the weapon of the common man.

    All the best
    jb
    si vis pacem, para bellum

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    In the Blue Artemis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jb.68 View Post
    I hope you don't mind me adding something. In the 70's there were a bunch of blokes who got into shooting the heavy bows. My memory for names is terrible, so forgive me, what I do know though is that one of these people was Chris Boyton. Now these guys were shooting big bows but with light arras and getting mixed results, it wasn't until a young Mr Stanley came along and started talking about 1/2" shafts and consequently heavier arras, that distances increased.
    To go more into it would lead off topic, but I think it important to remember that without these guys, the current revival of heavy bows may not even exist.

    All the best
    jb
    Chris was certainly amongst those who began the interest in shooting the heavy bow...what happened was that some members of the BLBS began asking to be able to shoot heavier bows..it was not thought appropriate for these to be used at a target event so the then Hon Sec: Hugh Soar proposed a special meeting at which heavy bows would be shot in the way they were historically - for distance, using what was called "the Standard". Some approximations of what it was thought the Standard was like were made up and the first meeting took place at Uxbridge, Kent in July 1990...Those who shot the Standard there were Clive Bartlett, Chris Boyton, Peter Good, Tony Roe, Steve Taylor and Derek White..(and I joined in for the flight) they also had a go at shooting "under the line"...a very old type of practice...for the record Chris won both Standard and Flight in pretty awful conditions with 236 yards and 298 yards respectively...the Standard Arrow was standardised soon afterwards by consultation with a number of bowyers and fletchers, and taking account of arrows found on the Mary Rose.

    The 2nd meeting was at Nutley, Sussex. after which it moved to Badminton where it has been every since - until now.

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    In the Red jb.68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
    Chris was certainly amongst those who began the interest in shooting the heavy bow...what happened was that some members of the BLBS began asking to be able to shoot heavier bows..it was not thought appropriate for these to be used at a target event so the then Hon Sec: Hugh Soar proposed a special meeting at which heavy bows would be shot in the way they were historically - for distance, using what was called "the Standard". Some approximations of what it was thought the Standard was like were made up and the first meeting took place at Uxbridge, Kent in July 1990...Those who shot the Standard there were Clive Bartlett, Chris Boyton, Peter Good, Tony Roe, Steve Taylor and Derek White..(and I joined in for the flight) they also had a go at shooting "under the line"...a very old type of practice...for the record Chris won both Standard and Flight in pretty awful conditions with 236 yards and 298 yards respectively...the Standard Arrow was standardised soon afterwards by consultation with a number of bowyers and fletchers, and taking account of arrows found on the Mary Rose.

    The 2nd meeting was at Nutley, Sussex. after which it moved to Badminton where it has been every since - until now.
    Haha, nothing like telling something to someone who was there eh? My apologies and thank you for the additional info. I'll leave it there, as I have taken this way off topic now...
    si vis pacem, para bellum

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    Viking bow

    The english long bow is a direct decendant of the viking bow. Vikings used both flatbows and D shaped longbows used mostly for war.




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