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 Medieval arrowhead

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Posts : 2353
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Medieval arrowhead   Sun 10 Nov 2013, 11:41

This is way outside anything that I know about so can I pick the collective brains here?

A small arrowhead, possible 14th c., about 3 to 4 cm long, leaf shaped with no barbs, and a narrow tapering tang also about 3 cm long - what would you make of that?
Sorry I've no picture but it's not for publication yet.

Also another piece of metal work; circular with a scalloped edge, possibly with remnants of yellow enamel, the central section being a square opening but uncleaned and retaining earth so maybe with some kind of tracery. On the rear is a bracket which suggests it might be some sort of decorative strap fitting.

I'll hear the interpretations at some point but I wanted to see what you folks thought.
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Meles meles

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Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: Medieval arrowhead   Sun 10 Nov 2013, 17:01

I know very little about arrows but to me the small arrowhead sounds like it was for hunting. As you describe it, it's not a bodkin point to pierce plate or mail armour, but rather it has a broad blade to cause a wide wound and so weaken an animal through blood loss. It's quite small and there are no barbs so it would be easy to extract without having to enlarge the wound and so further damage the prey and it's skin. Hence I'm guessing it was used to hunt smallish game: hares, roe deer, birds etc.

Haesten, who doesn't seem to have been around here for a good while, is the person you probably need to consult.
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PostSubject: Re: Medieval arrowhead   Sun 10 Nov 2013, 17:09

Catigern is another who could be able to help, I remember from another discussion on archery that he was a font of knowledge.
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PostSubject: Re: Medieval arrowhead   Sun 10 Nov 2013, 19:42

MM, that's interesting since I was querying whether it was indeed from a hunting weapon rather than than military. I suppose that it's not impossible for hunting equipment being used in a military situation by 'irregular' combatants.  I didn't find it but I've seen it and the initial reaction of one reputable expert was, I am told, to make some rather extravagant claims which I'm not convinced can be justified. Of course that may be revised once it's studied properly. 

I've had a look at the BM data base and tanged arrowheads seem to be quite unusual compared to socketed. 
I'd love Catigern to give me his opinion but since I'm not paying him for his erudition and I've been a tad nippy..........
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Nobiles Barbariæ

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PostSubject: Re: Medieval arrowhead   Mon 11 Nov 2013, 08:24

Why is the arrowhead being dated specifically to the 14th century? It must obviously be because of the context of the find but I wonder just what that context is?

Non-barbed and tanged suggests "disposable", as in intended for one-time use without retrieval being a priority. It also suggests rapid, cheap and voluminous production locally - more or less what you'd expect from a local smith equipping people in the immediate locality, most likely for hunting game. Of course if you go back through the centuries the likelihood of such a head's use in combat increases, which is why the dating and context are very important.

But really I'd say that there is not enough information in the description to warrant any firm guess, and in the case of the second item I wouldn't even go that far.
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Join date : 2012-04-24

PostSubject: Re: Medieval arrowhead   Tue 17 Dec 2013, 10:35

Any further news?  I'd agree it sounds like a hunting head.  War arrowheads tend to be bodkin-shaped or barbed.  I've also never heard of a medieval (military) arrow having a tang.  They've all fitted with a socket that the arrow shaft is pushed into.
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