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    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden

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    stuckinthemud1
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:55 am

    Hi Everyone,

    I have been in correspondence with the curator of arms and armour in the Royal Armoury Collection, Stockholm regarding the crossbow (below) and he has very kindly taken photos, measurements and provided some notes which I have permission to share with you, hope you will find them interesting.  

    Before I start, I believe this is the bow posted to Viking Sword, examined by Mikael Dahlström who sometimes posts here, and which he identified as a wood-and-sinew bow.  I would love for Mikael to join in on this one.

    The museum catalogue, however, describes  the bow as made of two layers of wood (presumably yew) and horn. On inspecting the crossbow, the curator did agree that the bow does look like it is made of yew and that it is hard to see if there are any horn at all, stating the front of the bow looks like it is horn as suggested in the catalogue online but that the material is hard to identify since it is partly covered.

    The whole crossbow weighs 2000 g. The thickness where the bow meets the stock is 45 mm. At the tip of the bow it is approximately 26 mm. From tip to tip it is 700 mm long, and front to end the stock is 710 mm. The height of the stock is 65 mm where it meets the bow.

    The bow is partially covered in printed birch bark and the front would have been striped in black, white and natural wood colour.

    Enjoy the pictures, any and all comments welcome.

    Andrew


    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden Img_6295

    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden Img_6296

    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden Img_6299

    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden Img_6297

    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden Img_6298

    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden Img_6300


    crossbow 17136, Royal Armoury Collection, Sweden Img_6301
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    Post by OrienM Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:44 am

    Thanks for posting! How cool to see one of my favorite original crossbows from some new angles Very Happy

    I still don't see a horn layer in the prod, just what looks like remnants of nice linear painting and very clean edge trimming on the parchment cover. It would be odd structurally if the horn layer was on the back (convex) side, IMO; however dry old sinew could easily be mistaken for old, de-laminating horn if one wasn't very familiar with both materials.
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    Post by OrienM Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:59 am

    I also see what looks like rodent damage (two bite marks) in the last pic of the prod tip. I've found that rodents will eagerly eat sinew and parchment if given the chance; I suspect it's one reason for the very low survival rate of original wood/sinew composites.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:39 am

    I've had a really close look at the images and the first photo of a tip seems to show a patch below the string where the covering is worn away to reveal a solid yew tip, also, from what I can gather, in yew/horn/sinew laths, the yew tends to be up to about 11mm (1/2") at the thickest point of the bow, reducing to nothing an inch or so before the nocks, which tend to be solid horn - the exposed yew belly here appears to be much thicker than that. On balance, I would go with it being a yew/sinew bow. One thing, though, if it is indeed a yew/sinew composite, it really looks like a horn bow, do you think? Maybe to look more expensive than it really was? So, if it were fully wrapped, we'd be happy to declare it a horn bow? So, how many 'horn-bows' in various collections have been mis-identified where the wrapping is still intact? Admittedly, very few of the wrappings are intact, but still....
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    Post by OrienM Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:54 am

    Agreed, on the one nock the yew core thickly backed with sinew is pretty clear Very Happy. The distinct line visible further down the limb (which could be taken as a lamination line) looks to me to be the trimmed edge of the parchment cover.

    I also think this is a "luxury" crossbow...not exactly hiding the wood/sinew prod IMO, since they left the belly uncovered, but a fancy, nicely decorated (and powerful-looking Cool ) rendition. The tiller inlays look like ivory...they appear to be single pieces, too long to be bone.

    I'd bet that wood/sinew prods were not uncommon in "utility-grade" weapons, either, but it seems like even fewer of these survived through the years. Total speculation, but it sure seems easier to find a good wood billet than to construct a horn belly.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:27 am

    Definitely a high-end crossbow, though I think with antler rather than ivory as antler is significantly easier to work and was widely available in the late middle ages. I think that the second image might be suggesting the possibility that the current finish is not the original one - there are two different patterns - the polka dot and something else, like a repeated quatrefoil in a sort of triangular banding? It looks like someone cut off the original cover at the lath bindings and over time the lath has slipped sideways to reveal this off-cut. I don't know for sure, any thoughts?
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    Post by OrienM Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:07 pm

    The prod look like it was knocked sideways in the bridle bindings, possibly by being dropped on the left-side prod tip (the same one showing yew and frayed sinew). You can also see lighter-colored wood exposed on one side, where it was originally covered by the leather binding.

    The little added piece of printed parchment/birchbark in the center I'd guess is original, and maybe included as padding (for noise damping) between the tiller and prod...? I used thin leather in a similar way on my own builds.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:26 pm

    The polka dot parchment? Seems to be universal for this time period, oil painted birch bark is very easily damaged so a sheet of parchment is inserted to protect the surface of the lath from the coarse bridle string.  The lath is usuallly mounted with a nice thick leather pad between it and the stock preventing the stock chewing lumps out of the lath

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