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Stefan's Florilegium


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16C-Arrow-Bag-art - 11/30/13


"16th Century Arrow Bag" by Seamus O'Cearbhaill.


NOTE: See also the files: archery-msg, arrows-msg, quivers-msg, arch-supplies-msg, leather-msg, 16thC-pavilon-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at:


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at



16th Century Arrow Bag

by Seamus O'Cearbhaill


1.             The Project.


It was my desire to produce a period correct "quiver" for my arrows.  As I was to find out arrow quivers were extremely rare and many archers simply placed the arrows they were issued in their belts. However, during the excavation of the Mary Rose, an English ship that sunk in 1545, many arrows and bows were found to include arrows held together in leather discs. [1] These leather discs were also in the collection of the London Museum as illustrated below:





It was clear that the leather discs had stitching holes around the perimeter and thus were probably part of some sort of bag. This assumption was clearly made by many before me and an illustration from 1777 actually shows the extant bag:






2.      Design


I made a slight modification to the above illustration, based on the evidence that the leather disc in the London Museum had notches for the arrow's fletching; I raised the leather disc up so the fletching would rest upon it. There was also evidence that the bags were issued with "girdles" or belts[i] so I attached a belt loop to the side of the bag. The top flap covers the fletching and secures with a drawstring. When used the flap folds down to expose the arrows when in use. The bottom is simply secured with a tie string to allow for different lengths of arrows.


There is a debate on which way the arrows were removed. I believe that most war arrows were tipped with a point (bodkin) that would pass freely through the holes in the leather and thus the arrows were inserted and removed from the same end as opposed to entering from one end and being drawn from the other.


The leather discs survived (because they are animal fibers) but the bag had to be made of some sort of plant fiber which would not have survived buried or in the case of the Mary Rose, under water.


This left me with a choice of materials to use for the bag; I chose to make it out of a stout canvas or duck. My three choices were linen, hemp or cotton. Because linen would have been common in the British Isles I opted for that although both Hemp and Cotton would also have been available. The thread is linen as well.


The bag was simply assembled using canvas working techniques used on both tents and sails of the same period. The sides and ends were assembled using a flat or tent stitch and the leather disc was attached with a whipping stitch. The tools used include a sail needle and a sail maker's palm. The needle was commercially purchased but is of the same design as those used in period.[ii] The palm was hand made by myself.


The embellishments were embroidered using a split stitch and linen fiber. It is likely that these bags were not personally owned and were probably plain.


Seamus O'Cearbhaill


[1] Soar, Hugh D.H. Secrets of the English War Bow Westholme Publishing Yardley Pa, 2006


Copyright 2009 by Stephen Allie, 11542 US 59 Hwy Oskaloosa KS 66066. <stephen.allie at> or <allies at>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>



Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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