måndag 1 december 2014

Some more thoughts on archery equipment.

Some time ago I posted some pictures of archers, or soldiers with some form of sash or piece of cloth around their waists. The theory I came up with was that this was some kind of tube to store the bow when not in use. After the post, Fredrik, who is an excellent archive digger found some more pictures of archers with cloth tied around their waists, many of them with the same kind of knot that is easy to snatch open if you need to get rid of the tube. In some cases you can almost think that it is some form of string in the end to tie it shut. One of the pictures also show s a lady of noble birth out hunting. She's got a white cloth with blue stripes around her waist, the combination that is seen in contemporary artwork depicting tablecloth. Mike Loades mentions in his book The Longbow that the archers used a oiled linen bag to store the bows in when on march but no sources are mentioned.
Here is some of the picures so far.

onsdag 22 oktober 2014

Happy birtday!

We are happy to be five years as a company!

And we are also happy to announce our new webepage! http://saintsebastian.se

The discussion to start a group was initiated spring 2009 at skjut och njut.
When we started the company five years ago I don't think any of us thought we would grow so fast and in the "right" direction as we have done. It's been like a dream come true! We have experienced a lot of things together and visited many exiting places.

One of our first apperances as a group, Varbergs fortress 2010.
The founders of the company, me (Robin), Jonas and Göran started this blog five years ago. The idea from the beginning was to be a small group, maybe five-six light armoured arches, living in small soldier's tents and cooking over a small fire. This didn't last long... Since then we have increased to twelve members and a few recruits. And as you can figure out the camp had to grow as well. But we have reached our goal, to increase the quality of the historic archery in Sweden(the world?). Archers aren't that popular in the living history society but I hope we have taken this to another level.

Me and Bengt went to China in 2011 for a traditional archery tournament.
Here is some of the first posts we made on this blog: http://sebastianarchers.blogspot.se/search?updated-max=2010-06-22T14:04:00-07:00&max-results=7&start=28&by-date=false

If you have time, you can see the journey we have made through the years here.
Mariefred 2012. The combat are staring to improve a lot by now.
The equipment have been a lot better as well. From 40 lbs laminate bows to 110 lbs Italian yew warbows, from crappy India-made helmets to helmets made by famous armourers, from unarmoured and unarmed to brigandines, plate and custom made swords and warhammers.

Starting to look good! Spring meeting 2013.

We have also grown as a company. It's not just putting up some tents and having a barbeque anymore. Someone have to be in charge and orders must be obeyed to have 10 to 15 persons functioning together. I think we all have learned this from the summers adventures and hopefully we will be better at this in the future!
Hopefully we will have the same positive trend in the future!  
Oslo 2014.

söndag 7 september 2014

Seasonal report.

It's been a good season for the Company!
This year we have met many interesting people, been to interesting and good events, we have evolved as a group and at same time had fun together.
Some of us at the Tournament in Oslo.

The season kicked off with a visit to Norway and St Hallvards Tournament. This was a full contact tournament with solid lances and we were there to man the "camp" at the tournament grounds. It was the first time I'd seen so many suits of armour at the same place, many made by the best armour smiths in the world. 
It was also the first time I'd seen a proper tournament with splinters flying and armour being bent. The tournaments in Sweden are more like a directed show with knight in knitted maille...

Next in the calendar was the Company of Saint George march that I've covered in previous posts.  

In July, me and Fredrik went together with three other Swedes through Germany to a Company of Saint George event in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. On the way down we had time to visit many museums, cathedrals and small medieval towns during a few days of "vacation" before we arrived at the monastery that we were going to stay at in Schaffhausen. The Company was there to guard and inhabit the town while a large tournament was held and we were billeted in a monastery. We had a lot(!) to do the first days before more people arrived. Guarding, patrolling and drilling was on schedule dusk to dawn, even during the night. We was also helping at the tournament, carrying birds of prey, holding dogs, lifting ladies, picking up broken lances, cutting ropes, building tilts. A lot to do but it was worth it! The tournament was a lot better than that in Norway and it was fun to see the best knights and armours in the world clash together in a small square.
When more people arrived to the Company we could relax a bit and start to get to know some people. Many skilled craftsmen displayed their trade, blacksmiths, bladesmiths, scribes, leatherworkers, musicians showed their trade and even I got my own table to put some of our archery equipment on for display. It seems like our table was appreciated by the visitors.  
Me and Stefan talking to one of the lovely ladies.
It was fun experiencing such a professional event and hopefully we will get the chance to do it again!

For a few years in a row now our group have been attending Riddardagarna i Mariefred. We are there with our camp for four days, talking to visitors and shooting our bows in the arena.
This year we took the experience we learned in Schaffhausen and made a drill that suits our Company. Charles the Bold's Ordinance from 1473 explains a drill with a mixed unit of archers and pikemen advancing together. The pikemen are to kneel at a signal and the archers shoot their arrows over the pikemen's heads. We tried this with our archers and men-at-arms/billmen and it worked. I think this drill could be useful when attacking or skirmishing as a small unit in tight streets when a volley shot at close range could give your infantry an advantage in the mêlée to come. Otherwise I think the archers were deployed in front of the block with infantry to let them shoot at maximum range to counter the enemy's missilemen and/or at a better angle to make more damage to an advancing enemy at close range.
We tried different formations and drilled for the public them for about an hour every day and I think the audience enjoyed it as much as we did even though it was about 30 degrees Celsius. 

After one year as rcruits, we got to new members to our company, Annie and Magnus. Two young and undamaged muppets that's more than welcome to join the circus. 

Last but not least, Söderköpings Gästabud! As usual we gathered to take part in this superb archery competition or shall we call it missile competition since there was two javelinmen competing this year. Orcs, lions, animals from the Luttrell psalter, black knights and an elephant in scale 1:1 were some of the targets we had to bring down on this year's hunting trail.

 The final held eight archers and I was one of them. Last year I won after a nerve wrecking duel, this year you had to win three duels to win the whole competition. On trembling legs I did it this year again! Söderköpngs Gästabud is a great way to end the season and a big thanks to all that arranged the competition!

Fotos: Annie Rosén, Inge Durst and Robin Eriksson.

fredag 4 juli 2014

Guests at the Company of Saynt George march. Part 3, behind enemy lines.

Part 1 and 2 is published below.
In the beginning of June some of us was participating in a GoSG march south of Stockholm.  This is my interpretation of the events that occurred deep in the Swedish woods.

Mustering the troops.
Day three. Rise and shine. with the threat from last night on his mid the captain decided to tackle this peasant rabble by taking shortcut through rough and unexpected terrain. The terrain forced us to take many breaks to stay fresh for the fight who was inevitable.

Fleeing peasants.
Our archer company was on point and we could feel that the forest had eyes. On the side of the road, a archer was tied to a tree. This sight made the captain command the whole company on a line, sweeping the forest in front of us. I ran to aid the brave but captured soldier. Suddenly, a crazy looking, bearded handgunner jumped out behind a tree and fired a ha
ndgun in my general direction. Luckily for me, the inbreed peasant couldn't hit a barn if he was standing inside it. Our whole force pressed on, driving the fleeing rabble close in front of us so they couldn't reload. The enemy made their last stand at a fortified hill with dense forest.

Our company along with the Burgundians made a flanking manoeuvre to strike the enemy on their right. Our archers shot their arrows and pinned the rabble down while the centre advanced and took several prisoners. The infantry kept pressing on, chasing the once again fleeing peasants while we escorted the prisoners. One local nobleman, his man-at-arms and his squire along with some handgunners came along to our final camp.

Keeping contact with the main force is
hard in the dense woods while flanking

Another great evening in good company with good food and drink. 
And all involved did a great job!

fredag 27 juni 2014

Guests at the Company of Saynt George march. Part 2, in the crossfire.

Part 1 is published below.

In the beginning of June some of us was participating in a GoSG march south of Stockholm.  This is my interpretation of the events that occurred deep in the Swedish woods.

Enemy barricades in the making?
Day two. During the night the old and experienced master gunner joined the company. This man is very wise and knows everything you could ever want to know about the wars of our time. The captain mustered his troops and we go our daily ration of food; a boiled egg, a piece of cheese and a piece of sausage. The march set of once again into the forest.
Rumours had reached us that the local nobility had mustered a force of militia to stop us on our mission. These inbreed peasants are known for their squint and filthy beards. The usually carry large battleaxes and out of date handguns to battle. With these fresh news in mind we decided to lighten our packing and leave the sleeping gear and other equipment that's in the way when you fight to the baggage train that is travelling by boat.
The pace was quicker so we covered ground faster. After a mile or so we took a break at a small lake to fill up with water in our canteens and costrels. The weather was calm but something was moving in the forest. A bit further down the path a squirrel jumped in a small pine, was this the source of the sounds? The patch moved down a small gully with the lake in the rear and cliffs to the left and right. The path rose up to a small passage that ended in a barricade. A hunting horn sounded, the signal for the half-witted peasants to light their slow matches and fire their guns! The ambushers were on the cliffs on each side of the road and the mainguard moved up to try to force their way through the barricade but the shots from the militia drew them back. The captain took a quick decision and divided the force. The Burgundians were going to move back and up the hill on the left flank. The mainguard held the centre and we, the vanguard held the right and rear. The bows were strung and we advanced up a small ridge to find a wall of pavises. The vanguard loosened their flights. At the meantime the Burgundian flanking manoeuvre drew the attention from the ambushers away from the maingurad so the could hack down the barricade and come up in the flank of the militia. The peasants fled. The company rallied after a successful skirmish to have a breather and a quick lunch.  
Taking fire from enemy handgunners across the bridge.
We pressed on, the vanguard leading the way down from the hill deeper into the woods. I saw a small stream, the only way to cross it was a small makeshift bridge. The hunting horn sounded again. The captain ordered the rearguard over the bridge. The shots filled the air but the but the Burgundians pressed on and secured the bridge so the rest of us could advance and push the enemy in front of us in the dense woods. It was soon quiet again but the trees had eyes and we were under fire again, this time from a hill. A courageous charge by the captain made us all rush up the hill and drive the peasants back, leaving their haversacks filled with maps, food and water. An hour or so later we arrived at the windy camp. The rain started to fall while we raised the tents, the pole to a large pavilion broke, everyone was hungry but at least there were no gnats!
The quick-witted archers from our company soon fixed the pole with ropes and some firewood. After a tasty stew made of smoked pork and vegetables the most of the force went to bed, except a happy few archers and Burgundians who shared war stories and a futuristic beverage made of sugar. After a few good laughs I went to bed, to find a note at the tent entrance´. "Leave this land or we slit your throats in your sleep".    

To be continued...

fredag 20 juni 2014

Guests at the Company of Saynt George march. Part 1, who let the gnats out?

In the beginning of June some of us was participating in a GoSG march south of Stockholm.  This is my interpretation of the events that occurred deep in the Swedish woods.

At the muster point we realized that the marching force had suffered heavy casualties, our company included. Just a few brave souls was getting their armour and packing on. The commander of the march, a renowned local mercenary captain had hired our archer company as vanguard and some of us also supported the logistic transport that travelled by boat on the small lakes and rivers. The fighting force was us, or Lynx as the captain called us, elephant was the mainguard, composed of local, steadfast troops and Leo, swift moving polearm wielding Burgundians made up the rearguard. 

Food was passed out and the company marched off on the first and longest part on the route. The mission was to escort a group of gunners to besieged town through enemy territory. All of us were carrying arms and armour, sleeping gear, extra clothes and rations. The route was over rocks and slippery roots, passing small lakes(one named little whore lake) and old forests.

 After marching about 10 kilometres we heard thunder in the distance and at the same time the commander was struck with heatstroke. We took some of his armour to lighten the load but he wanted to stay behind and rest a bit so we marched on on unknown paths and it didn't take long before we were lost in the deep woods. The Burgundians started to look a bit lost amongst all the big dark trees and freshwater lakes, they were used to tulips and polluted canals. The thunder rolled closer.

Fortunately we found the right footing again and could pick up the pace and an hour or so later we reached a newly risen camp with people preparing foods and setting up tents. As soon as we took off our gear it started raining cats and dogs. The evening was spent in good company with beer and good food. But when the sun started to disappear behind the gloomy trees an unheard evil started to move amongst us, drinking our blood. This evil you can barely see and you notice it when it's too late. I'm talking about the gnats, knott in the local tongue. This ruthless mosquito lives near water and comes in thousands. A local halberdier tried to rub every inch of his body with bog myrtle to repel the creatures and the Burgundíans looked at him with wide eyes, but it didn't work that well. The only way was for me to go to bed cocooned in my cloak with my hood closed tightly around my face.

To be continued...

tisdag 15 april 2014

The bouncing arrow

This is a project I've been working on for many years. I got the idea from Sven, a man I met at an annual meeting in the big forest Tiveden. The meeting is called Stigmännsmöte and can be translated into ranger gathering or something like it... The meeting is relaxed, no specific period clothes, you don't have to participate in any shoots, you can just sit by the fire and talk about the production of ink or something else interesting.

Sven talked about this hunting arrow for seabirds. The theory was that when you sit low in the water  and loosens the arrow almost parallel to the water surface the arrow bounces like you are skipping stones. I've got sources that say that the arrow origins from the Ural mountains, but no more than that...
I tried making my own a years ago and it looked like this. The shaft is made of aspen (Populus tremula) and the ball is made of birch (Betula pendula). 

The fletchings are turkey cut to the EWBS standard arrow dimensions. The forked arrow head is made of Hector Cole.
A sunny summers day last year we took a trip to Torsö which is a big island in Vänern, the biggest lake in Sweden. The island got a shallow beach which suited the experiment. It didnt work... I might have got some bounce but most of the shots went under water... Göran who took the photos came up with the idea that we needed a smoother transition between the shaft and the "ball", and that seems logical. He used some reed straws and duct tape(every man's best friend ;) )to make the whole thing more like a drop than a ball.
We tried this and it worked! Sometimes it skipped over 30 meters on the surface. I found out that the angle the arrow hits the surface is crucial. One theory I have is also that my bow is too strong(75-85 lbs), it punches through the surface. Maybe with a weaker bow the impact angle can be a slightly more forgiving. When I've been looking at the videos I've noticed that I sometimes dips the lower limb of the bow in the water, this will result in reduced speed and a bad shot.
Why use this kind of arrow? You lose accuracy and power with it...
But maybe if your arrow falls short, instead of just plunging down in the water and maybe lodge itself in the bottom it will bounce and maybe hit that duck anyway. And even if it goes under water the lump will reduce its speed and the arrow will float up to the surface.
I used a forked arrow head as these have a large surface to catch up the target, and if the arrow misses its target it won't disappear as easily in the reeds.
Here's this year's model. A smoother "ball" and also a longer shaft of ash (Fraxinus exelcior) so I can draw it full length. I will try this out in the summer and see how it works.
If anyone got any information, please share it!


måndag 31 mars 2014

Some thoughts on archery equipment

I've been looking at some manuscripts in search for archery equipment.
Maybe some kind of wickerwork inside this rather big bag.
By Diebold Schilling.
Some kind of device to carry the arrows must have existed. It's easy to put a bundle of small and light target arrows in your belt but when you put more than 6 heavy war arrows in your belt it becomes awkward and arrows fall out or becomes tangled in other equipment. For some years ago some of our company members made arrow bags with a wicker construction inside so the bag would keep its shape. But I don't know, the bag is a bit big and cumbersome... So I started to search for an arrow bag that could be constructed with the kind of spacers found on the Mary Rose and found Anciennes et nouvelles chroniques d'Angleterre from 1470-1480. It has several pictures of archers and many of them are wearing some kind of arrow bag. And as it seems that all the bags can be opened in both ends. 

 I decided to try this out and made a reconstruction from the videos Nick Birmingham made(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkYaMAdgBKI). The bag works fine and it feels like this could have been something that would have existed...

My own reconstruction.

Some other interesting things a found in the manuscript is this. Some kind of sash or cloth tied around the hip. Only archers wear this and I've seen it only in this manuscript. My first thought was that it is some kind of bag tied around the waist!? When I started shooting longbow several years ago, it didn't take long time before I asked my mom to sew a bag for my bow. So I could carry it on my back. I then painted it with linseed oil and bees wax to make it weatherproof. And why wouldn't the medieval archer do the same? But I haven't seen it anywhere. But when I look again, I don't' know... It doesn't look like it's tube shaped, maybe just the painters own creations.

Wait here's another one, of Hans Memling, and not an archer... Bugger...

If anyone have any ideas on this or have seen it someplace else, let me know!

fredag 14 mars 2014

What's you excuse? ;)

What's you excuse for not being crafting all winter? I have none so I've been up to the ears in wool, linen, hardwood, leather and so on... So here's a recap of some of the projets on the dark part of the year.

During the autumn Fredrik and I painted our company banner, a typical English banner with the cross of saint George at the base. It's then divided horizontally in red and black with our badge, Saint Sebastian and two archers. We also made two crossed golden arrows further down the banner to show that we are a company of archers. A flagpole of ash is in the planning phase as I write this.
Some weeks later I decided to paint a Yorkist liverybanner with Edward IV's sun in splendor (since our main portrayal is a small company in his service). My girlfriend (who is a perfectionist) helped me with the smiling sun. Murray, in combination with blue was used by the Yorkist kings and it is a shade of red. There's a whole bunch of varieties used reenactors, mostly a clear red colour as murray. But murray is died with mulberries and I think it will have a more blueish tone to it than most reenactors use, like the one used on page 64 in the book The medieval soldier(Embleton, Gerry & Howe, John, 1994), which we used as inspiration to our yorkist livery. y murray turned out a little too purple but hey, the colours wasn't mass produced then so it was hard to produce the same to all fabrics over some years.
Hopefully the two banners will serve us well and get a nice patina from many years of sun and rain.

The first project on my ow was a new gambeson. The old one I made almost seven (I'm getting old! :() years ago is getting worn and torn. And s
ince I got my brigandine now which will be my main body protection for the second half of the 15th century I decided to make an earlier garment for 1350 to 1415ish. I need something for side projects like Battle of Wisby and Agincourt as well as for my HEMA training. And if I want I can always modify it for use in the later 15th century by shortening it or adding a pair of jackchains.

A simple gambeson like the purple to the right.
The model is simple. A almost knee-long garment with vertical quilting. The arms are attached so that the ball of the shoulder is inside the arm, for flexibillity. I got one layer of fine linen close to the body, heavy linen(old linen from the Swedish armed forces), flax for padding(Swedish lindrev)and heavy linen on the outside. Under the arm there's no flax at all and I've removed some inside the elbow for flexibility. The collar is not too high so it interferes with a helmet or a fencing mask. The gambeson will probably be modified in the future when I know its weak areas. If I would done anything different, I would have made more space for the arms forward. It's a bit strain when I'm fencing but maybe it will be better by time...
My Agincourt-kit is starting to take shape.
Now what to do I thought. I must be having some kind of OCD since when I don't have a project or something to do I feel lazy. Why sit and just watch TV or series on the computer when you can sew extra lining to make the arming doublet a bit thicker so it carries the brigandine better, while you watch an episode of Breaking Bad? So I did that! Two extra layers of thick linen did it. Some linen bags to store eating utensils and other stuff that litters the table in our camp was also made in a hurry. Now next project. A Yorkist liverycote for a member in the company in exchange for a candlestick from the London excavations.
My fancy livery jacket!
Hey, let's look over the wool inventory! Ah some scraps from the old red livery cloth. Ah and some black too. What can I need in our liverycolours? A new fancy jacket(to use on fancy occasions to come) that isn't stained with rust, blood, dirt, sweat or wine maybe.

I used the same pattern as I used on my Yorkist livery jacket but lowered the waist a bit since it was too high on the old one. This pattern is taken from Company of Saint George's male costume guide. Livery jackets like these are shown in several mid to late 15th century manuscripts. I started by pinning it together and tried it on my test dummy with my brigandine on. I want to be able to wear it over my armour. For the lining I found some old linen bed sheets. White! I don't have anything white in my medieval kit so it will be exciting to see how long it stays white. I sewed some hooks and eyes for the opening in the front and I also put some to close the slits in the arms.

Embleton, Gerry & Howe, John (1994). The medieval soldier: 15th century campaign life recreated in colour photographs. London: Windrow & Greene