22 Jul: When Longbows Defeated Scotland

William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace was defeated by fearsome English archers at the Battle of Falkirk on 22nd July, 1298; when Edward I’s army first used longbows against their Scottish adversaries, with devastating effect.

Despite Wallace’s men deploying their famous ‘schiltron’ formation – whereby foot soldiers packed together to form a bristly spear-wall – the arrows the English volleyed back rained down at an awesome rate of ten per minute, per bow. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why even the clergy of the era were keen on longbow-training; consider the advantage of bows over guns for hunting purposes; and reveal why, despite this victory, it took 200 years for the English to fall back in love with archery again… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Bowmen of England by Donald Featherstone’ (Pen and Sword Books, 2011): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Bowmen_of_England/y8OIDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=welsh+longbows&printsec=frontcover

• ‘The Battle of Falkirk, 1298’ (BBC Bitesize): https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/z8g86sg/articles/zjwdbdm

• ’How to shoot a medieval longbow’ (The History Squad, 2022):

… And there’s FOUR MINUTES MORE of this discussion, cut-for-time from today’s show, exclusively available to our podcast’s supporters. How did William Wallace lose the Battle of Falkirk so spectacularly – was it really all about longbows? Arion, Rebecca and Olly investigate further in this week’s extra bit: support the show via Apple Podcasts or Patreon to hear it now.