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Plate 1
An old painting of St. Sebastian

In the University Museum of Anthropology. There are two figures painted on small wooden doors, probably those of an ancient sacrarium. One figure represents the Saint, bow and arrow in hand, dressed in armor of the fourteenth or fifteenth century, having on his breast the Cross of the Crusaders. The other figure, not shown here, is that of a kneeling monk, possibly in adoration.

The figure of the archer in the painting stands 29½ inches tall, and the string on his bow is 30 inches long. This bears out the old statement that the string on the longbow should be the height of the archer. Under these circumstances the bow when unstrung is three or four inches longer than the string.

Assuming the bow to be six feet, this would make our archer some five feet eight or nine inches, which probably is a good average for his day. The arrow in the picture is 17 inches over all, with a shaft of 15½ inches.

The proportions maintained by the artist seem to be accurate, and the objects are all in one plane, with no distortion through perspective.

Assuming the bow to have been six feet, comparative measurements of the features of the archer's equipment are computed as follows:

The bow is 1⅜ inches thick and has a nock 1½ inches long. Judging from the appearance, this bow does not pull over 80 pounds, probably less. It is of red yew, with the white sapwood clearly showing on the back. It is gracefully made, having slender whip ends to its outer limbs. There are delicate horn nocks, indicated by light blue-gray color, at the ends, but there is no suggestion of a handgrip at the center. The string is thin and white, therefore not sinew, but probably of hemp, linen, or silk. The deli­cate nocks and whip ends of the bow are not capable of standing a great strain. Having made about a hundred yew bows myself, I venture to assert that this particular weapon is not one of those very powerful implements described by historians, but one well within the command of such a man as is depicted in the painting. His delicate hands portray the scholar rather than the rustic yeoman.

The length of the arrow over all is 38¾ inches. The length of the shaft is 35 inches. Its diameter is a trifle less than half an inch. The length of the head is 3¼ inches, its breadth, 2¼ inches. The feathers are 9 inches long.

The arrow is the famous English broadhead, having a heavy angular steel point set on the shaft with a tubular haft or socket. The whole head seems to have been forged. The arrow is a simple cylindrical shaft of light yellow wood, probably ash or oak. It is tapered slightly at the nock, where there is the suggestion of a long narrow wedge-shaped piece of horn inserted. The feather is the historic gray goose wing, cut straight and angular. It is bound to the shaft at both extremities with white silk thread in close serving. In the interval between these servings, the thread runs spirally up the shaftment, between the barbs of the feathers; the spirals are about a quarter of an inch apart, and fasten the feather through its entire length to the arrow.

A replica of the arrow was constructed to represent as nearly as possible that in the painting, birch being used for the shaft, forged steel for the head, and goose feathers. Its weight is 3 ounces. It is in truth that honor­able old institution, the English broadhead arrow, a yard long.