The History of Horseback Archery in Britain

Britain has a long history of archery and of horses, both dating back thousands of years. Despite this, conventional wisdom was that the British never practised horseback archery and certainly proof of it is sparse. Here we present evidence that horseback archery was used in hunting and almost certainly used on occasion in warfare; not as a common tactic, but as required in certain circumstances. 500,000 BCE: Equid bones (found in Boxgrove, Sussex) 30,000 BCE: A carving of a horse (on a horse bone) Ice Age (maximum extent 20,000 BCE): Equids are believed to have been wiped out during the Ice Age. More came across the land bridge from Europe to repopulate the British Isles before sea level rose (6,500-6,000 BCE). 3,400 BCE: The ancient hillfort of Maiden Castle on the South Coast was destroyed by enemy attack. Archaeological finds include many arrowheads (one embedded in a skeleton’s spine) amongst burnt wooden structures. 2,500 BCE: Meare Heath and Ashcott bows – the earliest discovered bows in Britain, among the oldest in the world. 2,000 BCE: The richest grave at Stonehenge contained a man wearing a bone armguard and surrounded by arrowheads. 2,000 BCE:  Horses began being domesticated (rather than hunted) 1,000 BCE: The 110m long Uffington White Horse was carved into a chalk hillside ? BCE: In the Declaration of Arbroath (1320 CE) the Scottish lords claimed descent from the Scythians, one of the first and greatest tribes of Steppe horseback archers, to strengthen their claim against English rule. There […]

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