Here we have a fantastic collection of slender, tanged and lozenge-bladed arrowheads, dating from the 12th to 13th centuries. The arrowheads are all of type MP5 (Jessop, A New Artefact Typology for the Study of Medieval Arrowheads, 1995), used for both hunting and warfare throughout the high medieval period.
As a rule of thumb, Medieval tanged arrowheads were thought to have been primarily used for hunting, and socketed primarily used in warfare — although, of course, there would have been much crossover in usage. The main reason for this difference is due to the methods of ‘shaft-fixing’ for each type of arrowhead. Tanged arrowheads were inserted into the arrow’s shaft and fixed with either resin or tightly-wound twine. This ensured that, once the arrow had hit it’s intended target (a prey animal, such as a hare or deer), the arrow would remain firmly attached, thereby hindering the animal’s escape.
Conversely, socketed arrowheads could be loosely attached to the shaft using a little wax, with the inertia of the arrowhead itself ensuring it stayed in place during flight. When used in warfare, this meant that the arrows could not be picked up and reused by the enemy, as the head would remain in whatever the arrow had hit (be it wood, soil or flesh).
For this reason, tanged arrowheads are often associated with hunting, and socketed with warfare, but with much crossover.
Mounted on a base of oak, this collection would make an usual gift for a history enthusiast.
SMALL MEDIEVAL ARROWHEAD COLLECTION
Acquired by Timeless on the UK antiquities market, 2021. Formerly part of a private Buckinghamshire collection formed prior to 2000.