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  • Writer's pictureWill

The finished Valsgarde arrows

This is a set of replicas of the arrows found in the Valsgärde burials ( namely burials 6 and 8 ) from 7thC Sweden, so they fit between the end of the Migration Period and the beginning of the Viking age. The arrows have been commissioned by Matt Bunker, a leading expert and author on the Vendel period. For those who don't know, Matt has a superb and comprehensive book out at the moment on Anglo-Saxon swords.

Each arrow shaft is hand planed aspen, with a diameter of around 6-8mm. They have bulbous nocks shaped at the ends and taper directly into the heads, as compared to the typical shoulder of later medieval arrows.

Fletchings are goose secondary feathers, cut to 5" and trimmed to the straight-edged profile as found with the Jufvonna artefact. The shaft beneath the fletchings is coated in pine pitch resin, and the fletchings pressed into it then bound with hemp thread. More pitch is added and melted to seal the fletchings in place, just as with the Nydam arrows.

Bands are carved into the shafts and then painted with iron oxide powder mixed with fish hide glue and water using a goose feather brush, and a feather quill is used to paint further symbols around the bands.

The tiny arrowheads are forged with a 6mm overlapped (not butted) socket and the head is a diamond section leaf form copied from one of the Valsgärde 6 heads.

These arrows are incredibly delicate, and make me wonder whether they are perhaps ceremonial instead of functional. I'm not sure I'd want to shoot them!

I'd like to say thank you to Matt Bunker for commissioning these and educating me on the Vendel period, and to my friend Caroline Nicolay for her invaluable help regarding the paints and pigments of the Iron Age.

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