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Identifying Medieval Metal Arrowheads

Continued from Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads

FOREVER A WORK IN PROGRESS... Last update 7 June 2020

by Joseph T. Sermarini Jr.

Originally based on "The Ancient Metal Arrowhead" by Alex G. Malloy in Ancient and Medieval Art and Antiquities XXIV: Weapons. (South Salem, NY, 1993).

Images below are from various sources and are not to scale. Whenever possible the length is provided in the description.

See Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads for introductory information, including references and the elements, shapes, and types of metal arrowheads. We have split medieval arrowheads to a separate page only to speed up page loading.

The medieval arrowheads are mostly iron and some very closely resemble iron arrowheads made in the Iron Age (c. 1200 - 690 B.C.).  

Chronological/Geographic Categories

This article divides arrowheads into the following chronological/geographic categories:

Part I: Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Copper Age, c. 3500 - 2000 B.C.
Bronze Age, c. 2200 - 700 B.C.
Iron Age, c. 1200 - 690 B.C.
Scythian, c. 690 - 350 B.C.
Graeco-Scythian, c. 650 - 250 B.C.
Hellenistic Greek, c. 350 - 30 B.C.
Achaemenid Persian, c. 550 - 330 B.C.
Parthian, c. 247 B.C. - 224 A.D.
Roman, c. 300 B.C. - 476 A.D.

Part II: Medieval Metal Arrowheads
Eastern Roman-Byzantine, c. 450 1453 A.D.
Sasanian Persian, 224 - 800 A.D.
Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), c. 1200 - 1400 A.D.
Medieval Western Europe to England, after 1000 A.D.

Eastern Roman-Byzantine, c. 450 A.D. - 1453 A.D.

The use of bows as an important weapon for the Roman Army originated in the East in the later 4th and earlier 5th centuries to help the Roman Army counter the Sasanian Persian and Hunnic bow-armed cavalry. By the 5th century, there were numerous Roman-Byzantine cavalry regiments trained to use the bow as a supplement to their swords and lances, but these sagittarii appeared to have actually used the bow as their primary rather than as a supplemental weapon. According to the Notitia Dignitatum, most units of sagittarii, especially equites sagittarii, were in the Eastern empire or in Africa. Possibly some of the other cavalry regiments there carried bows as back-up weapons, but were not the dedicated mounted archers that the sagittarii were. By the time of Procopius ' histories and Maurikios 's Strategikon, the main effective field arm of Roman armies was cavalry, many of them armed with bows. After the fall of the Western empire, Eastern Roman armies maintained their tradition of horse archery for centuries.

Eastern Roman-Byzantine, c. 450 - 650 A.D.


Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 5th - 6th Century A.D., cf. Horedt, Dacia X, 1966, p. 281, 2; 32 mm long; trilobate, flat sides, elongated straight edges.


Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 5th - 6th Century A.D., 21 mm long; trilobate solid, flat sides, straight edges, short grooves on each side form blades near base


Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 5th - 6th Century A.D., 1.8 cm long; trilobate solid, flat sides, straight edges, arc notch in each side at base creating short stem and blades.



Met Collection 98.11.33b. Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 5th - 6th Century A.D.; length 3.2 cm, trilobate solid, flat sides, straight edges, internal socket, grooves forming blades with short barbs


Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 5th - 7th Century A.D.; 2.1 cm long; trilobate solid, straight edges with angle to tip, internal socket, grooves forming blades

Eastern Roman-Byzantine, c. 450 - 600 A.D.

Identification Keys:

     - Bronze.
     - Trilobate solid triangular in cross section and with triangular flat sides.
     - Diminished blades and sometimes a pseudo-stem are formed by shallow grooves in the sides from the base.

Eastern Roman-Byzantine, c. 600 - 1000 A.D.


AH68357. Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 7th - 10th Century A.D.; cf. Horedt, Dacia X, 1966, p. 281, 3; 3.0 cm long; trilobate solid tip, with flat sides, short blades with barbs and short stem formed by grooves in the sides.


Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 7th - 10th Century A.D.; cf. Horedt, Dacia X, 1966, p. 281, 3; 3.0 cm long; trilobate solid tip, with flat sides, short blades with sharp barbs and short stem formed by deep grooves in the sides at the base.


AA36852. Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 7th - 10th Century A.D.; cf. Horedt, Dacia X, 1966, p. 281, 3; 1.8 cm long; trilobate, straight edges with angle to point.


Bronze arrowhead, Byzantine, 7th - 10th Century A.D.; cf. Horedt, Dacia X, 1966, p. 281, 3; 2.0 cm long; trilobate, solid tip with blades down side of socket.

Eastern Roman-Byzantine, c. 600 - 1000 A.D.

Identification Keys:

     - Bronze trilobate solid/triblade hybrid.
     - Trilobate solid tip.
     - The shallow grooves used earlier are expanded to form full blades down the sides of the socket/stem to the base


Sasanian Persian, c. 224 - 800 A.D.


Met Collection 34.107.152 (= Whitcomb pp. 170-171, fig. 63e). Iron arrow or spearhead, Sasanian Persian, 224 - 800 A.D., length 8.9 cm, large flat heart-shaped blade, short stem with flange stop, long tapering round tang. Found at Qasr-i Abu Nasr, Iran.


Met Collection 34.107.156. Iron arrow or spearhead, Sasanian Persian, 224 - 700 A.D., 5.23 x 1.91 cm; Whitcomb pp. 170-171, fig. 63i (this specimen); flat deltoid blade, no barbs, no stem, flat tang. Found at Qasr-i Abu Nasr, Iran.


Met Collection 34.107.148. Iron arrow or spearhead, Sasanian Persian, 224 - 700 A.D., 4.45 x 1.91 cm; Whitcomb pp. 170-171, fig. 63r (this specimen); flat deltoid blade, no barbs, no stem, tang. Found at Qasr-i Abu Nasr, Iran.

Sasanian Persian, c. 224 - 800 A.D.

Identification Keys:

     - Iron.
     - Broad flat heart shaped  or deltoid blade.
     - Very short or no stem, sometimes with a flange stop.
     - Long tapering tang rectangular or round in cross section.

Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), c. 1200 - 1400 A.D.

Iron became the standard metal used in arrowheads with the advent of the Dark Ages. The arrows became heavier and heavier, especially with the use of the longbow and crossbow, and with the great skill of the Mongols. Each Mongol trooper had a short compound bow with a range up to 200 yards and would carry several quivers, each containing thirty arrows of a distinct type.



Malloy Weapons 129. Iron arrowhead, Mongol, 1200 -1400 A.D., deltoid head, flanged with long tang, length 8.7 cm, cf. Phillips Mongols fig. 7:2. Each trooper had a short compound bow with numerous arrows with range up to 200 yards.

Malloy Weapons 130. Iron arrowhead, Mongol, 1200-1400 A.D., flanged head with blade expanding, long tang length 7.5 cm, cf. Phillips Mongols fig. 7c, cf. Petrie Tools pl. XLI 193 var. (as Caucasus). The flanged Iron arrowheads are found in sites from Hungary, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. This arrowhead was used in slicing flesh.

Malloy Weapons 131. Iron arrowhead, Mongol, 1200-1400 A.D., small deltoid blade with flange, long tang length 5.8 cm, Phillips Mongols _. This light arrowhead would be used with arrows with a range of over 200 yards.

Malloy Weapons 132. Iron arrowhead, Mongol, 1200-1400., leaf-shaped head with flange and long tang length 9.3 cm, cf. Phillips Mongols fig. 7 B & C.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 11.0 cm long; cf. Phillips Mongols 7:2, Malloy Weapons 129; deltoid blade with flange, long tang.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 11.3 cm long; iron arrowhead; cf. Phillips Mongols 7:2, Malloy Weapons 129; lanceolate blade with flange, long tang.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 7.5 cm long; oblanceolate blade, short point sweeping into flange, long tang, rare type.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 8.7 cm long; oblanceolate blade, short point sweeping into flange, long tang, rare type.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 11.3 cm long; cf. Phillips Mongols 7:2, Malloy Weapons 131; blade with flange, long tang.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 3.8 cm long; cf. Phillips Mongols 7:2, Malloy Weapons 131; deltoid blade with flange long tang; found near Sevastopol north of the Black Sea.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 4.3 cm long; cf. Phillips Mongols 7:2, Malloy Weapons 131; deltoid blade with flange, long tang; tang bent.


Iron arrowhead, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), 1250 - 1400 A.D., 3.8 cm long; cf. Phillips Mongols 7:2, Malloy Weapons 131; deltoid blade with flange, long tang.


Iron spear head, Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), Iron Spear Head, 1250 - 1400 A.D., 7.0 cm long; cf. Phillips Mongols 7c, Petrie Tools pl. XLII 193 var., Malloy Weapons 130; rhombic blade with tang; tip bent.

Mongol (Khanate of the Golden Horde), c. 1200 - 1400 A.D.

Identification Keys:

     - Iron.
     - Long tapering tang.
     - Short stem between head and tang, often with a flanged stop at tang.

Medieval Western Europe to England, after 1000 A.D.



Malloy Weapons 132a. Iron. Medieval Italy. 1200-1400 A.D. Cone head with long tang. Length 4 cm. cf. Petrie Tools pl. XLI 159. Similar types are found in Museo Nazionale in Bologna.

Malloy Weapons 133. Iron. Medieval Spain. 1212. Rhombic socketed head. Length 5.7 cm. Petrie Tools _. Found at the site of the Battle of Navas de Tolosa. This was the turning point of the Christians' reconquest of Spain. On July 16, 1212, Alfonso of Castile, Sancho VII of Navarre, Alfonso IX of Leon, and Pedro II of Aragon defeated the Almohades and Abu Abdallah.

Malloy Weapons 134. Iron. Medieval Spain. 1212. Rhombic head with equidistant tang. Length 4.4 cm. Petrie Tools _. Found at the site of the Battle of Navas de Tolosa.

Malloy Weapons 135. Iron. Medieval Germany. 14th Century. Rhombic socketed head, heavy manufacture. Length 5.5 cm. Weight 22 gm. cf. Wheeler fig. 17, 22. Found in northwestern Germany. This arrowhead, compact and heavy, had to penetrate the ever-increasing bulk of defensive armor.

Malloy Weapons 136. Iron. Medieval Germany. 1257 - 1308. Socketed, with diamond-shaped head, thickening along central ridge, narrow neck. Length 4.2 cm. cf. Wheeler fig. 17, 21.

Malloy Weapons 137. Iron. Late Medieval Germany. 16th Century. Elongated leaf-shaped blade with long tang. Length 9.3 cm. May be a small spearhead.


UK Portable Antiquities Scheme LANCUM-508DBE. Iron arrowhead, England, 1200 - 1500, 5.18g, length 46mm, maximum width 11mm, thickness 8mm, cf. Jessop, O., 1997 Medieval Arrowheads : Finds Research Group 700-1700 Datasheet 22. Found in Stamford, Lincolnshire, East Midlands. small roughly elongated triangular-shaped head quite flat in cross-section, the socket is a slim tapered cone and is slightly diamond-shaped in cross-section. Similar examples (sub-classified in Jessop's paper cf. 6) have been found particularly at castle excavations including Goltho Manor (11th century), Castle Acre (12th century) as well as Rumney Castle and Bramber Castle (13th/ 14th century). Jessop suggests that these arrowheads were mainly used for hunting and span a wide date range from the 11th-14th centuries.


UK Portable Antiquities Scheme WILT-73A897. Iron forked arrowhead, England, 1000 - 1700. Damaged socket edge and possibly damaged tips to the forked end. 17.85g length 60mm, max width 45.6mm, socket end 13.5mm in diameter (internal 10.3mm) and narrows to 10.4mm in diameter just before the forked end projects (the socket ends here); cf. Salisbury Museum Medieval Catalogue Part 1, Saunders (ed) 1991, p. 87 fig. 23, 69 & 70; Jessop type H1; cast iron medieval 'forker' arrowhead, used for hunting birds throughout the medieval period, quite rare especially complete. Found in Wiltshire.


UK Portable Antiquities Scheme BERK-5036C2. Iron forked arrowhead, England, 1000 - 1700, length 62.16mm, maximum width 39.00mm, maximum diameter of the socket is 14.65mm. 15.2gms; cf. Salisbury Museum Medieval Catalogue Part 1, Saunders (ed) 1991, p. 87 fig. 23, 69 & 70; Jessop type H1; cast iron medieval 'forker' arrowhead, used for hunting birds throughout the medieval period, quite rare especially complete. Found in Oxfordshire.



Medieval Europe, Iron spear head, 1000 - 1200 A.D., 8.5 cm long; trilobate with long tang.


Medieval, Iron arrowhead, Europe, 1100 - 1300 A.D., 11.0 cm long; bilobate, broad leaf-shaped flat blade, long twisted tang, rare type.


Medieval, Western Europe to England, Iron arrowhead, 1200 - 1270 A.D., 10.7 cm long; London Museum fig. 17, 17; bodkin point, square cross section, long tapering tang.


Iron arrowhead, Medieval, Western Europe to England, 1200 - 1270 A.D., 6.5 cm long; London Museum fig. 17, 17; bodkin point, square cross section, long tapering tang; bent tip.


Iron arrowhead, Medieval, Western Europe to England, 1200 - 1270 A.D., 4.3 cm long; London Museum fig. 17, 17; bodkin point, square cross section, tapering tang (broken).


Iron Arrowhead, Medieval, Western Europe to England, 1200 - 1270 A.D., 11.2 cm long; 15.3 grams, London fig. 17, 17; bodkin point, square cross section, long tapering tang.


Iron Arrowhead, Medieval Spain, 1212 A.D., 10.5 cm long; Petrie Tools -, Malloy Weapons, 133; rhomboid, socketed; Found at site of the Battle of Navas de Tolosa in Spain.


Iron Arrowhead, Medieval, England, 1241 - 1263 A.D., 9.3 cm long; Iron arrowhead; London Museum type 15; bilobate, barbed and socketed, large arrowhead.


Iron Arrowhead, Medieval, England, 1241 - 1263 A.D., 7.7 cm long; London Museum Type 15; bilobate, barbed and socketed, large arrowhead.


Iron Arrowhead, Medieval Germany, 14th Century A.D., Iron arrowhead; cf. Wheeler, XV, 1, Malloy Auction XII, 94; rhomboid arrowhead with rolled hammered socketed tapered stem, socketed; chip.


Iron Crossbow Bolt, Medieval Germany, 14th Century A.D., 6.2 cm long; cf. Wheeler pl. XV, 17, p. 66, fig 16. 9; narrow tubular stem widens to blade, found in northwestern Germany, used to penetrate the ever increasing bulk of defensive armor.


Iron Arrowhead, Medieval Germany, 14 Century A.D., 8.7 cm long; cf. Wheeler pl., 1, Malloy Auction XII, 94; tubular tapered socketed stem, flat triangular blade, tip broken.


Iron Arrowhead or Crossbow Bolt, Medieval, Central Europe, 14th Century A.D., 7.7 cm long; cf. Wheeler pl. XV, 1.


Iron Arrowhead, Medieval England, 1400 - 1500 A.D., 6.5 cm long; bilobate, large flange, tang.

Medieval Western Europe to England, after 1000 A.D.

Identification Keys:

     - Iron
     - Sockets formed by hammering flattened iron around a rod

Anomalous types:

     - "Forker" - A splayed head with two points, although rare, the type is found from England to Asia. It was used for bird hunting in the medieval period and later.


PART 1: Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads

Appendices


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