Hedeby – Danish 8th-11th C AD

Hedeby (German Haithabu) was a Danish trading settlement that now finds itself in Schleswig in modern Germany. The second largest trading port of the Viking period, it was occupied from the 8th to the 11th centuries.  A boat-chamber grave for a person of some importance dating from AD825-850 was uncovered in 1908 and contained a bow and a bundle of some 20 arrows. The arrows had parallel-sided birch shafts, tanged arrowheads, bronze nocks and imprints of the feathers in the birch tar clear enough to work out the fletching came from white-tailed eagles.

Viking arrow remains (items 9-11, 14-16 are from the Hedeby Boat Chamber grave)

Hedeby bow and arrow reconstruction

The reproductions depicted in the dig report (above) really don’t match the finds reported. Tar had been used over the top of the binding thread to leave the impression, so the thread wouldn’t show the light colours. I also think the feather profile is a bit of an ambit claim at a modern parabolic shape, most depictions of this period show a feather profile similar to the finds at Jufvonna.

Jufvonna fletching

My Reconstruction

Hedeby Arrow
Hedeby Arrow

Mountain ash shaft, turkey fletching colour matched to white tailed eagle pinions, white cock feather, linen binding, pitch, enamelled copper wire. Nock on this prototype is antler, production ones will be bronze (as were the originals). I’ve used a tanged forker on this example to make it different from the Nydam arrow on the display, but tanged leaf heads are also correct.


The Viking Age Compendium – Arrows http://www.vikingage.org/wiki/index.php?title=Arrows

Brink, S. & Price, N. The Viking World, Routledge, 2008 https://books.google.com.au/books?id=wuN-AgAAQBAJ&dq=hedeby+arrows&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Paulsen, H. ‘Pfiel und Bogen in Haithabu’. In Geibig, A. and Paulsen, H. Neue Ausgrabungen in Haithabu; Band 33: Das archäologische Fundmaterial VI 1999


Ausgrabungen in Haithabu.


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