By Jeremy Spencer


For the EWBS, the only archery society solely dedicated to the English Warbow, to not commemorate Agincourt would be a shameful omission indeed. Naturally an event was held to celebrate its abiding memory and what better place to hold it than the area of good King Harry’s upbringing, Monmouthshire. Monmouth will always be associated with Henry V, who was born in its Castle in 1387. Less well known is that it is likely he spent his formative years at the Courtfield Estate in Welsh Bicknor. The estate is reputed to have originally been called Greenfield and was given the ‘Court’ prefix in his honour. Henry cut his military teeth fighting the rebel Owain Glyndwr. During the battle of Shrewsbury, between the two claimants to the title ‘Prince of Wales’, he was badly injured by an arrow strike below his eye. However, he refused to leave the field until the day was won.

The most appropriate date to hold a commemorative shoot is slightly open to conjecture as England used the Julian calendar at the time of the battle and the subsequent shift to the Gregorian alters the actual time of year to an earlier date. However, the modern interpretation fits the bill as well and as fate transpired the weather was tolerable if not ideal. Perhaps it is apt that early rain turned to sunshine as the day wore on to echo the past on that fateful day.
Flight Shoot Results
The day started with a very welcome mug of tea in generous host and long time friend of the warbow, Brian Lee’s barn. As the assembled archers warmed themselves by the brazier the days shooting was outlined. First up was ‘shooting at the butts’, which formed the medieval staple practise that honed generations of bowmen’s skill. Our butts were spaced 220 yards, a furlong, apart and three arrows each end were shot. In the centre of each butt was placed a plated garland at the height of a man’s chest. The best representation of an English medieval butt is an illustration in the Luttrell Psalter which was written and illustrated in the years 1325-35. Every Sunday, after church, and Holy days, thousands of English and Welshmen would shoot for enjoyment at the butts (and this was reinforced by the royal edict of Edward III who made it obligatory in 1363). The butts were the targets for long range shooting and consisted of nothing more complicated than a turfed mound of earth (or better still two) set at good distance apart. This sport was in no small
part responsible for elevating our archers to become the undisputed best in Europe. Rather like football now, archery was the national obsession and clearly fitted our mindset. However, England’s enemies could not or dare not encourage such activities themselves. The Scots clan based society was not centralised enough to enforce such practise and social order was too unstable to arm train and arm the ‘Levée en masse’ with such a devastating weapon. Neither nation took to the bow in way the English and South Welsh did. A look at any map of England will show how shooting at the butts was so wide spread as it has left an indelible mark. Many villages and towns will bear the name of ‘The Butts’ or ‘Butts Lane’ etc with Worcester’s ‘The Butts’ being a particularly famous example.
After several ends at the butts the archers moved on to the roving marks including three arrows at the Oriflamme from 240 paces. The Oriflamme has a particular resonance with Agincourt as it was carried onto the field. The name comes from the Latin aurea flamma, meaning golden flame. This was the battle standard of the King of France and at Agincourt it signified that no quarter was to be given by the French. However, ultimately the French suffered the ignominy of the English capturing their most belligerent of battle banners as had previously happened at Poitiers in 1356. At the end of the roving marks, the EWBS archers returned to the barn to be fortified for the flight shoot by enjoying some of host Brian Lee’s wife’s excellent chocolate cake, a welcome tradition.
After the refreshments, the archers assembled in the flight shooting field. As the archers presented their arrows for scrutinizing, the sun came out which always makes outdoor proceedings more pleasant. The flight shoot was undertaken in challenging conditions with a strong blustery wind blowing at a right angle to the shooting line. The weather seemed to drop the light flight shafts short yet some good, if not outstanding, distances were attained with the heavier war arrows. Two archers shot well past the Tudor minimum of 220 yards with the society’s replica livery arrow based on the arrows of the Mary Rose. The following is a record of the distances achieved and equipment used. As ever, different bow classification were in effect to provide a level playing field and encourage historical replica warbows of all period woods.
'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's da
y'


At the end of the days shooting everyone headed to barn for the final time for the prize giving with Steve Stratton proving that winning the combined butts and roving marks was indeed becoming habit forming. Young Ben Stratton fought off the late charge of Hugh Spencer to make it a brace for father and son. The butts proved such a resounding success that it clearly deserves its own event as it provides such a tangible connection with our ancestors’ martial prowess.
Mary Rose Bows Meane Wood Bows Non-historical Bows
Society Livery Arrow    
Alistair Aston 155lbs 250 yards
Jeremy Spencer 155lbs 245 yards
Paul Mathews 105lbs 190 yards
Scott Young 120lbs 163 yards
Steve Fletcher 120lbs 157 yards
Ben Stratton (junior) 50 yards
Hugh Spencer (junior) 31lbs 79 yards Phil Swire 70lbs 187 yards
Trevor Edwards 71lbs 146 yards
Martin Adams 85lbs 131 yards
Standard Arrow    
Alistair Aston 132lbs 260 yards
Paul Mathews 105lbs 198 yards
Steve Fletcher 120lbs 180 yards
Scott Young 120lbs 169 yards
Ben Stratton (junior) 50lbs 80 yards
Hugh Spencer (junior) 31lbs 90 yards Phil Swire 70lbs 183 yards
Dave Weller 75lbs 165 yards
Trevor Edwards 71lbs 155 yards
Steve Morris 80lbs 155 yards
Martin Adams 85lbs 138 yards
1/4 lb Arrow    
Alistair Aston 155lbs 220 yards
Jeremy Spencer 155lbs 206 yards
Steve Fletcher 120lbs 141 yards
Ben Stratton (junior) 50lbs 37 yards
  Phil Swire 70lbs 151 yards
Flight Arrow    
Ben Stratton (junior) 50lbs 148 yards Hugh Spencer (junior) 31lbs 160 yards Brian Lee 75lbs 193 yards
Steve Morris 80lbs 190 yards
Trevor Edwards 71lbs 177 yards
Nick Morris 80lbs 175 yards
Martin Adams 85lbs 165 yards
Agincourt Shoot 2009