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A Tudor to Commonwealth Period Archer’s Arm Guard

September 5, 2009

This is a  simple  multi-period project suitable for the beginner. I was looking for an arm guard design that I could use for the ECW period and noticed a similarity between those shown in the woodcuts of the archers in William Neade’s The Double-Armed Man (1623) and one found on the Mary Rose. The result is a more or less shameless rip-off of the Mary Rose one, with the decoration hinting more towards a slightly later  London origin.

Archer's Wrist Guards from the Mary Rose, 1545

Archer's Wrist Guards from the Mary Rose, 1545

I’ve used the design of the one on the left, but based the decoration on the one on the right. Cut a rectangle of 4mm leather and two straps of 3mm leather. Split the end of the straps and dampen the intersection, then stretch to the desired shape. Decorate, stain, rivet, stitch and finish to taste. I has Alex from Talerwin Forge forge the buckle to match the one he’d made for my helmet, but a commercial one would also be fine.

The pike, sloapt. W Neade, The Double Armed Man.

The pike, sloapt. W Neade, The Double Armed Man (1623).

A shield stamp is dead easy to make. Not being armigerous (Google it), I decided to use the arms of the City of London in the decoration. There’s a few reasons for this, the main one that there was a regiment of archers raised in 1642 within the Cripplegate Ward, the other was that the gentleman in the woodcut above was a member of the Gentlemen of the Artillery Garden and their shield is a bugger to carve.

The stamp is made from a piece of Tassie Oak curtain rod. I heat hardened one face using the bench sander, then shaped the shield using files. The cross was also done using a file to about half the depth and the sword with three cuts with a sharp 1/4″ chisel and a centre punch for the pommel.

Wooden stamp of the arms of London.

Wooden stamp of the arms of London.

The small star/flower shapes are a commercial stamp, but could have been made with some square-stock and a file. The border is embossed with the back of a butter-knife.

I’ve dyed it dark red as Roger Ascham recommends in Toxophilus, The School of Shooting (1545) that the best are of Spanish cordovan. Cordovan leather is dyed red in the tanning process. Finally, rivet the buckle and the straps on and finish with a beeswax polish to seal and help the bowstring slide off.

Finished and used a couple of times.

Finished and used a couple of times.



Ascham, R., Toxophilus, A School of Shooting, London, 1545

McKee, A., How We Found the Mary Rose, St Martins, London, 1983

Neade. W., The Double Armed Man, London, 1623

  1. Erik Roth permalink

    I like the post and the other articles. My choice was the quiver.These are items I have made myself and I appreciate your attention to authenticity. When it comes to mediaeval archery, “I wrote the book ” as they used to brag, and the book will soon be published. I would like to use “the pike, sloaped” illustration.. Can you please let me know how and where to get permission to use it ?


    • Hi Erik, there was a facsimile published in 1971 by G. Shumway in York, Pa., they may hold the rights or it might be owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York or possibly the Guildhall Library in London. I’m using the image from the Anne Arbour microfilm version, under the fair dealing provisions of the Australian copyright law

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  1. Archer’s Bracers and Wooden Stamps (again) | The Reverend's Big Blog of Leather
  2. Finished Archer’s Bracers | The Reverend's Big Blog of Leather

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