Longbows of the Mary Rose

10 December, 2015

A brief clip here from the BBC4 programme The Mary Rose – A Timewatch Guide, the segment featuring the longbows and arrows pulled off the ship, and the testing of one of them to destruction. The actor Robert Hardy, later to play Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films, was part of this project as one of the country’s foremost longbow experts.

If you don’t know, the Mary Rose was a Tudor warship in the navy of King Henry VIII which sank off the coast of Britain in 1545. The well-preserved remains were raised off the seabed in 1982 in the greatest maritime archaeology project in history, and have been yielding up secrets ever since. As for the bows, here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

“A total of 250 longbows were carried on board, and 172 of these have so far been found, as well as almost 4000 arrows, bracers (arm guards) and other archery-related equipment... Longbow archery in Tudor England was mandatory for all able adult men, and despite the introduction of field artillery and handguns, they were used alongside new missile weapons in great quantities…There were several types of bows of various size and range. Lighter bows would have been used as “sniper” bows, while the heavier design could possibly have been used to shoot fire arrows.”

The warbows found on board were extremely heavy – up to 185lb in draw weight. Famously, the scientists managed to identify several likely archers among the hundred plus skeletons found on the wreck, based on their shoulder blades. Anyway, enjoy.


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