I’ve had this book for a long time. I bought it way back in 1993, and in fact the first edition was published in 1976. This third edition includes an additional chapter which examines the discovery of 137 longbows and over 3,500 arrows from the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s warship which sank in the Solent in 1545.
Written by the actor Robert Hardy, it’s a comprehensive account of the bow from its invention around 50,000 years ago, concentrating mainly on what is now known as the English longbow. It examines historical and archaeological evidence, and also looks at the presence of the bow in mythology by examining accounts of legends like Robin Hood.
The final chapter looks at the finds from the Mary Rose, examining the construction of the bows found there, and the deductions that can be made from their length and strength. There are also some appendices with detailed technical considerations.
Although presented as a coffee table book, it’s a thorough, detailed account of the longbow, and should provide any student of the weapon with an in-depth investigation into the longbow’s construction and practical use.
I’ll be posting my own podcast on the longbow over the next few days, so keep your eyes (and ears) peeled!