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Mary Rose museum replica MR82A1892/9

Ok, this won't be everybody's cup of tea (I'm not really sure I like it myself) but here's the first of a set of "super accurate" Mary Rose replica arrows.

Super accurate in quotation marks, because these are exact copies of what I personally inspected in the museum archives, so it could be argued that 500 odd years ago they looked very different.

The fletching compound isn't green, it's yellow. It does contain copper acetate but only in trace amounts so as to not change the colour. ... While the famous green compound is lovely, it wasn't present on the arrows in question.

The silk binding is natural and undyed, not red. Again, this reflects exactly what the arrows in the museum look like today. Whether the colour faded over time or not is for a different discussion!

The aspen (populus tremula) shaft itself is not 1/2" bobtailed to 3/8" as per the usual belief - it's 1/2" at the shoulder to accept a 1/2" socket, but tapers quickly down to just over 3/8" then tapers more gradually to a nock which measures just under 8mm (or 5/16" for those archers used to weird numbers!) You could think of it as a 3/8" shaft, with a 1/2" shoulder and a 5/16 nock.

The cow horn insert is incredibly thin, and the slot in the nock is made by splitting the end of the shaft with a knife, not sawing as is commonly done today. This results in a wedge shaped horn insert, despite the slot not being deliberately shaped that way. Some of the MR nock insert slots were sawn, but not the ones I personally inspected. The insert is glued with hide glue.

The goose feathers are not split with a knife and then sanded, but stripped from the quill. This results in a tissue-thin membrane. They are bound into the slightly warm and soft compound at 5mm intervals.

One thing in particular to note is the lack of excessive binding at the start and finish of the fletchings - just a couple of turns to hold the feathers in place and three turns at the end held in place with an overhand knot.

While I can't show photos of the arrows from the archive, I have attached a very similar arrow which is on display in the museum itself.

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Since the Mary Rose arrow discovery the Tower of London Inventories from the mid 1300’s have been translated from Latin, Anglo Norman and middle English and give a comprehensive view of bow and arrow manufacture, purchase and distribution which now cast doubt on the purpose of the Mary Rose arrows.

There were only two categories of arrow, the yard long war arrow and everything else. Everything else was all commercial arrows for hunting, target and flight shooting. Almost all, both commercial and military, were made of aspen (Poplar Tremulus). The flights of commercial arrows were whipped (also known as waxed) and in most cases the heads were pinned, bound or heat shrunk on so the arrow could be removed intac…

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