The Tybrind Vig bow
Tybrind vig, a cove at West Funen between Assens and Middelfart (Danish town name, we apologise),
has kept secrets of great cultural value since the Erteboelle period 6000 years ago. At 2-3
meters depth the environmental conditions have preserved organic material to an exceptional
degree. Among the preserved wooden objects such as fragments of paddles and fishing spears are
also one complete and a part of a bow. The Tybrind vig bows are made to a special shape. The
complete specimen has been cut from a young elm wood stem, approximately 30 millimetres in cross
section at the handle - de-barked. The bow is 1665 millimetres long and hence as long as a man
was tall, when it was made.
The bow is ingeniously shaped in its simplicity. The bowyor has left 2 inches untouched at the
middle and has from there made an in principal flat cut-away running in a curve from the belly
towards the back, then getting flatter and gradually reducing the cross section towards the
ends, thus obtaining a shape that distributes the forces perfectly along the bow limbs. Towards
the ends the limbs get narrower and are finished with the shape of a drop in one end and likewise
in the other but combined with a base the shape of an oval. The purpose of this we may only
guess about, but the shape of the ends being asymmetrical a fair bid would be a difference in the
attachment of the string. One end of the string might have been permanently fastened while the
other - having a loop - could be detached but sustained by a piece of string attached to the
bow end (very much like a modern English longbow). At any rate the shape of this bow indicates
that our ancestors were quite cunning in their technology.
reconstructions of this bow have proved that it is easily build and easy to shoot. The
replica shown below has a draw weight of 72 pounds at 28 inches draw. In spite of this it is
not a fast bow. In average it sent a 494 grains arrow through the chronometer with a speed
of 132 ft per sec. However one can rest assured that this would have covered the needs of the
stone age hunter.
It needs to be added that the bow seems to be constructed to be drawn to a full arm's length
or more. One would expect the shooting style to go along with it to be very powerful and
there is no doubt in the author's mind, he himself being a modern bowhunter, that the hunters
from Tybrind vig 6000 years ago trusted this weapon to send it's projectile clean through
It seems unlikely that these hunters have used poison. There has been no need for it and -
according to some primitive South American Indian tribes - it is a risk you would prefer to
avoid when possible.
"A Preliminary Report on a Submerged Erteboelle Settlement on the West Coast of Fyn"
by Soeren H. Andersen, Journal of Danish Archaeology, vol. 4, 1985.
The authors own photos and dimensional sketches.