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Longbows and Crécy on BBC4 iPlayer

Aired on BBC4 the evening of 5 January, and now viewable on BBC iPlayer throughout January, was the first in a new 3-part historical series entitled 'Sword, Musket and Machine Gun', tracing the 1000-year evolution of weapons of war. This first part contains a lively warbow demonstration with our Freeman Mark Stetton, then a summary account of the longbow's rapid evolution between 1290 and the run-up to the Battle of Crécy in 1346.

Its first half hour has some interesting stuff on the evolution of swords, then halfway through, devotes an instructive 10 minutes to the crossbows of the 12th and 13th centuries, the era of Richard the Lionheart.

The final 20 minutes are given over to the longbow: first a visit to the Wiltshire forge of arrowhead maker Hector Cole, then the lively demonstration by Mark Stretton of his 140-lb warbow, and finally the very good summary account of the longbow's rapid evolution beginning with Edward I's wars in Wales in the 1290s, and on through to Edward III's longbow strategy that annihilated the Scots at Halidon Hill in 1333 and the French at Crécy in 1346.

This first episode remains viewable on BBC iPlayer at the link below until 29 January:

The programme's short summary narrative of the evolution of the longbow between 1290 and 1330, running up to Crécy in 1346, is consistent with the storyline of our Poitiers Supper talk on Longbow Origins in November 2014, the full text and illustrations of which are on our website at this link: "

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