Tag Archives: Throwback Thursday

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.


#tbt – archery on coins

12 March, 2015

Did you know that some of the first coins of all, and the first thought to have borne royal or imperial likenesses were of Darius the Great, ruler of Persia in the 5th century BC, and they depicted him as an archer?


The coins played a major part in making the modern world. Via Wikipedia:

“Darius introduced a new universal currency, the daric sometime before 500 BCE, which came in gold and silver versions. The gold daric had a standard weight of 8.4 grams with a purity of 95.83%, and it bore the image of the Persian king or a great warrior armed with a bow and arrow.  Darius used the coinage system as a transnational currency to regulate trade and commerce throughout his empire. The daric was also recognized beyond the borders of the empire, in places such as Celtic Central Europe and Eastern Europe…  Trade goods such as textiles, carpets, tools and metal objects began to travel throughout Asia, Europe and Africa. Their use ended with Alexander the Great‘s invasion in 330 BC when they were melted down and recoined as coins of Alexander. “

“In ancient times, the coin was actually nicknamed “the archer”. For instance, the Spartan king Agesilaus II remarked that he had been driven out of Asia by “ten thousand archers”, referring to the bribes distributed by the Persian King.

It wasn’t just Persia; the archer was a potent numismatic symbol in antiquity and appeared on coins in India and the Parthian Kingdom during the same period.

(Not to be confused with an Archer.  Or Spanish Archer. For the archery fifty pence piece produced for London 2012, go here.)