Ancient Arrows


Mesolithic arrow - Points are microliths are from blades that have been retouched into triangular shapes and once fitted these shapes will act as barbs

Neolithic arrow - Points are leaf shape (or tear drop shape) and these are commonly found on Neolithic sites across the UK

Bronze Age arrow - Points are barbed and tanged which will be triangular in shape and have two notches which will form the tang (in the middle) and the barbs on either side

Materials for flint tools:

  • Hammerstones
  • Soft hammers
  • An antler and Copper tipped pressure flaker

Materials for arrows:

  • Hazel rods for the arrow shaft
  • Feather for flights
  • Willow bark to tie on the arrowhead and flights
  • Pine resin, beeswax and charcoal for glue
  • Bluebell bulbs (optional - WITH CAUTION)

 

  • Prepare a hazel rod shaft by first stripping off the bark
  • Carefully straightening shaft over an open fire
  • Cut notches in the shaft:
    • At the front for the arrowhead - the notch should be around 1.5cm depth and in the middle of the shaft
    • At the back - the notch should be around 0.5cm depth and in the middle of the shaft
  • If you want to use a Medieval style fletch, cut the feather flights to the correct shape
  • If you want to use full feather (as shown in the top image) - skip this step
  • Tie the feather flights to the shaft with stripped willow bark
  • Make sure there is sufficient finger room between the back of the shaft and the start of the fletch

 

  • Archaeological evidence has shown that during the Bronze Age, fletchers used Bluebell bulbs (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) as glue to attach feathers. The bulbs were probably chewed (NOTE: Bluebell bulbs are poisonous) to access the sticky sap; human saliva helps break down food into sugars that our bodies can absorb and the chewing process would make the bluebell bulb an glue ideal.
  • Collect clean Pine resin, making sure that it is good quality resin (which contained little dirt)
  • Make the glue by melting the resin and beeswax on a hot stone (in a fire) then add charcoal dust
  • While the glue is still liquid, apply 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

To see my Medieval style fletching project >> click here

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