Medieval Compound 240#@28"

Reviewed By Andy

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You may have thought that the compound bow was invented back in the 1960's, but Archers Review have been given access to an archaeological dig in Sussex which suggests that a similar principle was used and know as long ago as the 1400's. With the help of Ron Palmer the University of East Sussex have developed a working model of the bow which replicates the methods used. We spoke to head of archaeology Malcolm Saunders about the bow last weekend.

"We found the bow close to an old army strong hold, there is mention of these bows in literature but we have never found one either intact or in it's component parts before. Old English long bows, as a solid length of wood tend to survive well, even under the water, but as these compound bows were made from smaller parts it appears they have disintegrated over the years. To have found one which was virtually intact has been amazing". 

"We contacted Ron Palmer to get his thoughts and together we have been able to build a working replica". 

Malcolm and his team believe that these bows were common place during the 1400's but the cost and time required to make them caused them to fall out of favour and be replaced by the crossbow. 

"The English used longbows as they had a large body of men capable of getting the best from them, on continental Europe the crossbow was used as people didn't need the same strength and skill required to use a longbow. The wooden compound was the English answer to the crossbow. English archers were capable of pulling 180# longbows and we think that these compound versions could have reached up to 240#".

The discovery of the bow could revolutionise the various Primitive bow classes used in different organisations, we spoke to Barry Moon head of the UKFA to get his thoughts. 

"The definition of primitive is a bow design that was used over 400 years ago, if carbon dating can be used to prove the age then we would have no grounds to ban the bow in competition". 

We hope to test the bow in the near future. 




Your Comments

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  • Posted by: Tony on Apr 1, 10:35

    It is April 1st today. I thought so !

  • Posted by: I A Simpleton on Apr 2, 11:05

    Hi Archers Review,
    I have never thought about it before but I live in a very old village in Kent. Over the years many a battle must have been staged in my area with history and property dating back many many years. After reading your above story it has just hit me that my next door neighbour has one of these bows in their back garden but if the one you are looking at in the pictures is 240# this one must be double that. This unit is so big that one end is tied around a fixture on the house and the other to the garden shed. It must have a span of about 15 meters and be capable of shooting well in excess of the 240# you are looking at. Unfortunately as history is forgotten about and things become less important these items get used for other things, I have seen Belfast sinks used as fish pounds in times gone by and even bath tubs with flowers in them. What has happened with this master find is nothing short of a disaster, my neighbour has started using this piece of English history as a clothes line and on the Friday of every week(washing day) decides to place her smalls on this unique artifact. Be assured AR I will now be taking this further in the interest of the English public,
    Many Thanks

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