11-12th August 2012: Own Project Development (Woodcraft School)

The last part of my Primitive Technology course (NCFE Level 3 qualification) called "Own Project Development was run by the Woodcraft School in West Sussex. The exercise was for the students to put into practice all the skills and techniques learned during the previous courses. The morning started however with a short flintknapping workshop for one of the Woodcraft School's American guests. After this, I started on making the arrows; it seemed this was a popular choice, as most of the other students were doing the same project.

For my own piece of craft work I made prehistoric arrows: one Mesolithic, one Neolithic and one Bronze Age, as this combined a number of the elements from the Primitive Technology course. This put my flintknapping skills to good use, as I made a selection of microliths to be fitted onto the Mesolithic arrow. The microliths were made from blades that have been retouched into triangular shapes, once fitted these shapes will act as barbs. The Neolithic arrow had a leaf point (appears similar in shape to a tear drop) as these are commonly found on Neolithic sites across the UK. I used an antler pressure flaker to push off the flakes with the strength of my back and shoulders alone. For the Bronze Age arrow I made a barbed and tanged arrowhead which will be triangular in shape and have two notches which will form the tang (in the middle) and the barbs on either side.

<< Here I was preparing the hazel rod shaft by first stripping off the bark, before straightening over a fire and finally cutting notches
>> Next the feather flights were cut to the correct shape

<< Then I tied the feather flights to the shaft with stripped willow bark. Unfortunately I attached the flights too far back on the shaft which left little finger room when holding the arrow on a bow string. Although they are still usable, I will give ample room next time.

>> Here I was collecting Pine resin from nearby stumps, making sure that it was not poor quality resin (which contained lots of dirt)

<< The glue was made up by melting the resin and beeswax on a hot stone (in a fire) then charcoal dust was added

>> While the glue was still liquid, it was applied to the arrowhead and wedged in the notch, then bound with bark before being glued a final time

From left to right:

  • Barbed & Tanged arrowhead - Bronze Age
  • Leaf Arrowhead - Neolithic
  • Microlith Arrowhead - Mesolithic

The final piece is to complete the course work notes. I would like to thank John Rhyder and Caron Buckingham and their Woodcraft team for supporting me on this course over the last 3 years. The quality of teaching at Woodcraft School has won awards for 2 years running for Best School, Best Instructor and Best Course for adults, as voted for by readers of Bushcraft & Survival Skills magazine.

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