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Jessop

Jessop, O. A New Artefact Typology for the Study of Medieval Arrowheads. (Durham, 1996).

PDF available for purchase


Jessop Fig. 1 & 2.

Jessop Fig. 1 The new arrowhead typology.


Jessop Fig. 1 Abbreviated Key.

Note: Physical descriptions below vary from Jessop 's to better follow the terminology used throughout this web page.

T - Tanged. Cut from a flat iron bar and sometimes hammered, predominantly from contexts dating from the 9th-10th centuries.

T1: 9th-11th century. Long, thin, leaf-shaped blade triangular in cross-section, sometimes with a low midridge; blade tapers from slight shoulder to a narrow tang, tang is diamond or circular in cross-section, sometimes blade is twisted. Function: hunting. Dimensions: length 102-155 mm, width 10-13 mm, 20-21 mm.

T2: 11th-12th century. Small leaf-shaped blade, rectangular tang. Function: uncertain. Dimensions: length 40-55 mm, width 15-25 mm.

T3: 12th-15th century. A development from T2. It has a triangular-shaped blade with an oval cross- section, rectangular tapering tang. Function: hunting/military. Dimensions: length 40-55 mm, width 15-28 mm.

MP - Multi-Purpose. These types could have been successfully employed for both hunting and warfare, but the more likely function may be noted. All are socketed. Types MP1-MP6 are very similar in design. All except MP4 have triangular heads which are diamond or oval in cross-section.

MP1: 11th-15th century. Triangular blade with diamond cross-section, socket. London Museum Medieval Catalog, type 2. Function: hunting. Dimensions: length 40-120 mm, width 20-45 mm.

MP2: 11th-14th century. Like MP1 but with an extended socket. London Museum Medieval Catalog, type 3. Function: hunting. Dimensions: length 45-60 mm, width 20 mm.

MP3: 10th-16th century. Very common. Triangular blade with rounded shoulders, diamond or oval cross-section. London Museum Medieval Catalog, type 1. Function: hunting/military. Dimensions: length 50-70 mm, width 20-30 mm.

MP4: Mid-13th century. This form is a thin leaf-shaped blade, diamond in cross-section, short socket. London Museum Medieval Catalog, type 4. Function: uncertain. Dimensions: length 60-75; mm, width 10-20 mm.

MP5: Late 11th century. Triangular with shoulders cut off at an obtuse angle. Function: hunting/military. Dimensions: length 40--60 mm, width 15-25 mm.

MP6: Mid-12th century. Triangular blade with slight barbs curving down from the shoulders, diamond or oval in cross-section. Function: hunting/military. Dimensions: length 35-60 mm, width 15-30 mm.

MP7: Early 13th century. Wide barbed, variations in barb size and socket length, oval or diamond cross-section. London Museum Medieval Catalogue, Type 13. Function: hunting/military. Dimensions: length 40-60 mm, width 18-30 mm.

MP8: Mid-13th century. Similar to MP7, with socketed mid-rib, flat barbs which vary in size. Function: hunting. Dimensions: length 35-50 mm, width 15-25 mm.

The final two forms within this multi-purpose group, MP9 and MP10, may have been specifically designed for archery practice, as evidenced by their recovery from sites such as Baile Hill in York and the Free Grammar School in Coventry. Their blunt shape would allow straightforward removal from an archery butt and help reduce the likelihood of serious physical wounding in the case of an accident. They can vary in size, and are occasionally mistaken for ferrules from staffs or spears.

MP9: 12th-15th century. Cone-shaped with internal socket. A stubby version of M6. Function: practice/military(?). Dimensions: length 15-35 mm, width 7-13 mm.

MP10: 16th century. This form is similar to MP9. Bullet-shaped with internal socket, occasionally decorated. London Museum Medieval Catalogue, Type 5. Function: practice. Dimensions: length 5-30 mm, width 6-12 mm.

M - Military. The ten military forms can be divided into either compact warheads or slender armor-piercing heads. The warheads M1 - M4 would have been effective against early forms of armor and body protection.

M1: Late 14th century. Lanceolate biblade with thin walled conoid internal socket and flat blades, occasionally barbed. Function: warhead. Dimensions: length 25-45 mm, width 10-20 mm.

M2: 15th century. Similar to M1. Biblade with conoid internal socket extending from a short stem to the tip, very thin narrow blades. Function: warhead. Dimensions: length 20-35 mm, width 10-20 mm.

M3: Late medieval. Lanceolate biblade head, midrib narrows at tip and base and widens at the center following the contour of the blades, conoid socketed stem. Function: warhead. Dimensions: length 22-40 mm, width 14-20 mm.

M4: 14th century. A small compact lanceolate bilobate head with close fitting barbs, diamond or oval in cross-section, socketed stem. London Museum Medieval Catalogue, Type 16. Function: warhead. Dimensions: length 25-40 mm, width 12-20 mm.

The forms which appear to have been designed for armor piercing, M5-M10, have a comparatively small cross-sectional area and a slender shape. These specific features would allow them to pass successfully right through plate armor. M5 and M7 are of a surprisingly early date; examples from Goltho Manor date from 1000-1080 and Castle Acre from the 12th century. They appear to be the forerunners of the larger types, M8, M9 and M 10, which are predominantly found on castle sites.

M5: Mid-13th century. Narrow conical internal socket tapers into a square sectioned point. Function: armor-piercing. Dimensions: length 35-50 mm, width 7-14 mm.

M6: 11th-14th century. Long and narrow conical point with internal socket. Function: armor-piercing. Dimensions: length 50-70 mm, width 7-12 mm.

M7: 11th-14th century. Very long, thin point with a diamond cross-section widening to socketed round cross-section stem. London Museum Medieval Catalog, type 7. Function: armor-piercing. Dimensions: length 140-200 mm, width 8-12 mm.

M8: Mid-13th-15th century. This form has a long, narrow, tapering blade with a diamond cross-section, socketed stem either joins the blade smoothly or with a prominent shoulder. Function: amour-piercing. Dimensions: length 80-1 70 mm, width 8-13 mm.

M9: Mid-13th-15th century. Similar to M8. Long sharp tapering lanceolate biblade head with thick diamond cross-section, long conoid socketed stem. Function: armor-piercing. Dimensions: length 100-140 mm, width 10-18 mm.

M10: Mid-12th-15th century. This form has a short thin blade, with a diamond cross-section, conoid socketed stem. London Museum Medieval Catalog, types 8 and 10. 178 Function: armor-piercing. Dimensions: length 30-80 mm, width 8-16 mm.

H - Hunting. Types H I and H2 are sometimes referred to as forkers, because they have two forked points, either in a crescent or V shape. Their exact function is unknown, although they were possibly used for catching fowl. The larger forms, H3 and H4, are often referred to as broadheads. The enormous barbs allow the maximum cutting edge possible, which would have caused extensive blood loss, and effectively weakened a pursued animal. The last arrowhead form within the new typology is H5. There is a lack of archaeological evidence for its existence; possibly because it was made from an organic material such as wood or leather. However, its inclusion within the typology is due to its illustration in medieval manuscripts. It is suggested by Blackmore that it would be ideal for catching smaller game birds, because their delicate flesh would be extensively damaged by forked or barbed heads.  In the 14th- century hunting book written by Gaston Phoebus there is an illustration of the use of this form for hunting hares. It appears that the arrowhead would have stunned the animal, allowing easy retrieval by the waiting hounds.

H1: Late 13th century. Crescent-shaped forker head, the inside of the crescent sharpened, socketed short stem. London Museum Medieval Catalogue, type 6. Function: hunting. Dimensions: length 30-60 mm, width 25-40 mm

H2: Late 14th century. V-shaped forker head, sharpened inner angle, socketed short stem. Function: hunting. Dimensions: length 30-50 mm, width 25-40 mm.

The two examples of broadheads H3 and H4 are representative of a very large range of forms. They do, however, split into two distinct groups; those with a flattish diamond cross-section, H3, and those with a central socketed spine, H4. Their size varies from c. 100 mm in barb width to c. 40 mm. They appear to be absent from early assemblages, and they may be a late introduction.

H3: Mid-13th century. This form has a centrally enclosed socket, by the addition of two, large, flat barbs, it is diamond in cross-section. Many derivatives. Function: Hunting (Broadhead). Dimensions: length 50-100 mm, width 45-100 mm.

H4: 14th century. Similar to H3. A tapering socket forms the spine of the arrowhead, with two long curving barbs. London Museum Medieval Catalogue, types 14 and 15. Function: hunting (broadhead). Dimensions: length 35-80 mm, width 50-100 mm.

H5: 12th-13th century. Blunt-ended arrowhead, short socketed stem. Function: hunting (birds/rabbits). Dimensions: length 20-45 mm, width 10-:25 mm.

Jessop Fig. 2 Medieval arrowhead timechart (divided in half for better internet display).


A. Coppergate, B. Durham, C: Goltho, D. Gt. Yarmouth, E. Castle Acre, F. Glastonbury Tor, G. Castle Acre Priory, H. Llandough, I. Castleskreen


J. Castell-Y-Bere, K. Red Castle, L. Butcombe, M. Customs House, N. Christchurch, O. Dyserth Castle, P. Doonbought, Q. Bramber Castle, R. Seafin Castle, S. Llantwit Major, T. Leith, U. Huish, V. Free Grammar School, W. Basing House.
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