Thread: Crossbow.
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Old 7th February 2012, 03:39 PM   #11
Jim MacDougald
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 7
Default Crossbow

Thanks! I'm attaching a hand-drawn replication of the inscription on my crossbow. The folks at the Royal Armouries (RA) believe that the date probably is 1835, not 1335, which is possible because the inscription is hard to read. But it is done in a medieval style, with colons separating entries. It just doesn't LOOK like a 19th century inscription to me. But RA is convinced that this crossbow was designed either for firing incendiaries or as a "trap" bow, most likely because it is a logical explanation of the need for a steel bowstring. A steel bowstring would be fireproof (a good thing when using incendiaries!), and a steel-stringed trap bow would be weatherproof. But I can find no evidence of purpose-built "incendiary firing crossbows" in the 18th or 19th centuries, or any other century, for that matter. Nor can I find an example of a "trap" crossbow with a steel string, especially one that was built in the 18th or 19th centuries using 15th century design. The trigger mechanism on my crossbow is extremely primitive, and not at all similar to crossbows in use for sporting purposes in the 18th and 19th centuries. I have the book from the Royal Netherlands Army Museum, but it has no similar crossbow. I contacted them, and the crossbow expert has left their museum. I also have the 1903 seminal work on crossbows by Payne-Gallwey. While it has a lot of interesting information, it does not address the "steel string" type. I am convinced that the reason this bow has a "steel bowstring" is because the extremely heavy and barely flexible bow could not have been drawn back with traditional bowstring. The bowstring would have broken or stretched. I have "cocked" this bow, and it stores enormous kinetic force. Thanks for any input you may be able to provide. Jim (Whoops! Tried to attach photo, but it is, again, too large. Will try to remake it and attach to next post)
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