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A longbow cost about a week's wage for a Medieval English crafter, not a half year's wage. Why are bows so expensive in RQ? Is it for game balance?

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14 minutes ago, Brootse said:

A longbow cost about a week's wage for a Medieval English crafter, not a half year's wage.

 

Do you have a source for that? I've seen prices for yew bowstaves at 2£ per 100, or about 5d each , which would be about a week's wage. But I haven't seen the price for a finished longbow, 

which typically took up 4 years to produce, and which would probably have been reflected in the final price. I also know that the price for Medieval arms and armor were deliberately inflated to help restrict ownership to the proper classes.  

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46 minutes ago, Brootse said:

A longbow cost about a week's wage for a Medieval English crafter, not a half year's wage. Why are bows so expensive in RQ? Is it for game balance?

Whilst self bows were relatively cheap in the ancient world, a composite bow was far more expensive in terms of labor and time, with the best taking a very long time to make (often bows were glued together and left for the winter to 'set' whilst being periodically checked).

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

Do you have a source for that? I've seen prices for yew bowstaves at 2£ per 100, or about 5d each , which would be about a week's wage. But I haven't seen the price for a finished longbow, 

which typically took up 4 years to produce, and which would probably have been reflected in the final price. I also know that the price for Medieval arms and armor were deliberately inflated to help restrict ownership to the proper classes.  

Here's a source for the longbow prices: http://web.mit.edu/21h.416/www/militarytechnology/longbow.html I've seen many other sources too putting the price in the same ballpark. And it didn't take a lot of active work for the bowyer, the long time was needed for the material to dry. And even if the wood had to be imported, it didn't raise the price to half a year's pay. The low price implies that if a bowyer hadn't just started his shop, he could manufacture a new bow from his raw materials in a few days. So self bows should be significantly cheaper that swords, and even cheaper than spears.

 

1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

Whilst self bows were relatively cheap in the ancient world, a composite bow was far more expensive in terms of labor and time, with the best taking a very long time to make (often bows were glued together and left for the winter to 'set' whilst being periodically checked).

Correct, composite bows required more than just wood, and they required more work too, and were easier to botch up. But they were still relatively cheap. A Manchu archery site: http://www.manchuarchery.org/bow-and-arrow-prices-1802 says that a composite bow cost about a month's wage for a crafter. Now the source is much later, but proles' quality of living changed relatively little before the industrialization.

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Can't be bothered to look up the prices in RQG, but a self bow should be cheaper than a composite bow which should be cheaper than a longbow.

Elf Bows should be the most expensive, but they are just grown on an elf bow tree and are given out free to Aldryami. Since nobody else can use them, they are effectively useless to humans.

 

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11 minutes ago, soltakss said:

Can't be bothered to look up the prices in RQG, but a self bow should be cheaper than a composite bow which should be cheaper than a longbow.

Elf Bows should be the most expensive, but they are just grown on an elf bow tree and are given out free to Aldryami. Since nobody else can use them, they are effectively useless to humans.

 

Self bows are 50 L, composite bows are 150 L, and Elf bows don't have a price. The prices should be divided by 25 in my opinion.

Why should the composite bows be cheaper than the longbows? They require much more work and material to make?

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28 minutes ago, Brootse said:

Here's a source for the longbow prices: http://web.mit.edu/21h.416/www/militarytechnology/longbow.html I've seen many other sources too putting the price in the same ballpark. And it didn't take a lot of active work for the bowyer, the long time was needed for the material to dry. And even if the wood had to be imported, it didn't raise the price to half a year's pay.

Getting a good stave for the strength adapted to your needs takes quite a bit of value, because yew (a natural laminate if cut up correctly) will grow only very slowly - it takes about 80 years to grow to a size when you can start considering it for a bow stave. On comparison, you get an excellent spear shaft made from ash in maybe 25 years, probably less.

Wood for bows would be a very controlled resource, and the best quality will be rather scarce.

3 minutes ago, soltakss said:

Can't be bothered to look up the prices in RQG, but a self bow should be cheaper than a composite bow which should be cheaper than a longbow.

A longbow is a self bow. There is no real difference except the draw weight and bow length the bowyer goes for.

Self bows can be re-inforced by applying a "composite" to their backs, e.g. sinews or some other wood (e.g. bamboo), which will increase the amount of work you have to put into making one.

 

It doesn't have to be yew or the equivalent thereof. You can go for less suited wood, which may mean you don't get to apply your damage bonus to your archery. Or you can trade with the elves, like the Rathori do.

 

 

28 minutes ago, Brootse said:

The low price implies that if a bowyer hadn't just started his shop, he could manufacture a new bow from his raw materials in a few days. So self bows should be significantly cheaper that swords, and even cheaper than spears.

If it is just a light hunting bow, yes. Bow staves for heavier war bows are harder to get, unless your elf trading partners grow them to your specification within a season or two.

 

28 minutes ago, Brootse said:

Correct, composite bows required more than just wood, and they required more work too, and were easier to botch up. But they were still relatively cheap. A Manchu archery site: http://www.manchuarchery.org/bow-and-arrow-prices-1802 says that a composite bow cost about a month's wage for a crafter. Now the source is much later, but proles' quality of living changed relatively little before the industrialization.

If you look at the Turkish recurved bows made from horn and sinew (mostly), cheap doesn't really come into play. Water buffalo horn and sinews from moose legs were used, and at least one of those items had to be imported from quite a bit away. Those bows have a heck of kick at relatively low draw weight - a 100 lbs bow could fire 434 meters. That's manageable with sufficient specific muscle training and just above average strength.

Praxians probably value sable horn and bison or high llama sinew, and possibly herdman manes for the strings. Pentans might trade for musk ox horn and use horse sinews and hair for the rest. Grazers might use wood for the basis of their bows, then add sable horn and sinews from horses.

Bamboo is a great material for wooden composite bow backs. It also can serve for the points and arrow shafts.

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3 hours ago, Brootse said:

Correct, composite bows required more than just wood, and they required more work too, and were easier to botch up. But they were still relatively cheap. A Manchu archery site: http://www.manchuarchery.org/bow-and-arrow-prices-1802 says that a composite bow cost about a month's wage for a crafter. Now the source is much later, but proles' quality of living changed relatively little before the industrialization.

Sadly, prices and availability in the Manchu Dynasty a few centuries ago are not a good guide to Bronze Age prices. All the available information suggests that composite bows were expensive prestige items. It isn't easy to cost items in the ancient world, though the materials used in making composite bows are mentioned in trade lists and palace storehouse lists, as are the bows themselves.

An Iron Age Assyrian text suggests that a good quality composite bow cost a mina or two of silver. A mina was 50-60 shekels of silver. A shekel weighed about 10.88 grams (.35 troy ounces). In comparison a Lunar weighs 6.22 grams (.2 troy ounces). So... that roughly gives a price of 175 to 88 Lunars (assuming 50 shekels to a mina of silver). 

No doubt you can buy cheaper composite bows, but they may not have as powerful a draw or last as long. A bit of a problem when your composite bow goes crack! just as the enemy are rushing forwards...

 

Edited by M Helsdon

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2 hours ago, Brootse said:

Why should the composite bows be cheaper than the longbows? They require much more work and material to make?

Note that Gloranthan (and terrestrial Near East) self bows are not European longbows (and yes, the European longbow of yew goes back to the Neolithic)

Just to confuse things, longbows are self bows, but the term self bow covers a wide variety of materials and at this point of the Hero Wars there are no longbows in central Genertela, save in the hands of rare Rathori mercenaries.

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4 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Note that Gloranthan (and terrestrial Near East) self bows are not European longbows (and yes, the European longbow of yew goes back to the Neolithic)

Just to confuse things, longbows are self bows, but the term self bow covers a wide variety of materials and at this point of the Hero Wars there are no longbows in central Genertela, save in the hands of rare Rathori mercenaries.

Yeah, I know. I was just asking his opinion about the prices.

Edited by Brootse

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7 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Do you have a source for that? I've seen prices for yew bowstaves at 2£ per 100, or about 5d each , which would be about a week's wage. But I haven't seen the price for a finished longbow, 

which typically took up 4 years to produce, and which would probably have been reflected in the final price. I also know that the price for Medieval arms and armor were deliberately inflated to help restrict ownership to the proper classes.  

My work is related with trees, so I’m curious about that price on yew, a mature timber of yew is rare to have so to make bow may be is not very old ones? From branches? Or it must have any special characteristics or part of the tree?

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13 hours ago, Brootse said:

Here's a source for the longbow prices: http://web.mit.edu/21h.416/www/militarytechnology/longbow.html I've seen many other sources too putting the price in the same ballpark. And it didn't take a lot of active work for the bowyer, the long time was needed for the material to dry. And even if the wood had to be imported, it didn't raise the price to half a year's pay. The low price implies that if a bowyer hadn't just started his shop, he could manufacture a new bow from his raw materials in a few days. So self bows should be significantly cheaper that swords, and even cheaper than spears.

Lets see. According to your source later 1460s (the highest price) is 2 shillings per bow. 2 shillings is 24d, or close to a month's pay. The lowesr price, 1 shilling (12d) is about two weeks pay. There is no longbow in RQ2, but there was one in RQ3, with the same price as the composite bow, so we can use that price, 150L here.  That does seem high compared to the prices for swords. So I think you've proved your point. 

 

13 hours ago, Brootse said:

 

Correct, composite bows required more than just wood, and they required more work too, and were easier to botch up. But they were still relatively cheap. A Manchu archery site: http://www.manchuarchery.org/bow-and-arrow-prices-1802 says that a composite bow cost about a month's wage for a crafter. Now the source is much later, but proles' quality of living changed relatively little before the industrialization.

That price, 1 months wage, matches up with what I had above in pence.

 

The problem here is that we have little to go on regarding a weeks wage in Glorantha. All we have is a note that 1L is worth 1£  ,pre-WWII . If it's 40L/week we'd be in the 1 month's pay territory. If 80L/week then 2 weeks pay. Either are nice as far as thinking in terms of an hourly (1L or 2L per hour) or daily wage ( 8L or 16L pey day) , not that they would think that way. I suspect that 40L per day is too high though.

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8 hours ago, Humakt said:

My work is related with trees, so I’m curious about that price on yew, a mature timber of yew is rare to have so to make bow may be is not very old ones? From branches? Or it must have any special characteristics or part of the tree?

I got the price off of wikipedia. Yew was preferred and imported because the combination of sapwood and heartwood works as a natural composite bow. 

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9 hours ago, Humakt said:

My work is related with trees, so I’m curious about that price on yew, a mature timber of yew is rare to have so to make bow may be is not very old ones? From branches? Or it must have any special characteristics or part of the tree?

You need yew trunk wood to make longbows. As has been said, it's the contrast of the spring if the sapwood and the dense incompressibility of the heartwood that makes it a naturally bonded 'composite'.

By Henry VIII's time (at least) a lot of the yew used for the 'best' longbows was imported from, of all places, the Iberian Peninsula (made sense until Henry decided to divorce the King of Spain's aunt and go all Protestant). Yew is probably even more expensive now because it's slow growing, and probably wasn't replanted 100% when it was cut down to make longbows.

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I think that RQG prices tend to go with the concept that "swords and bows are expensive and only the elite can adfford them", whereas a lot of people have been brouight up with images of medieval people carrying swords and bows routinely.

Personally, I prefer them to be fairly routine items.

Even composite bows, which were once the preserve of nomad groups, are pretty much freely available. Don't forget that, in Glorantha, Pentians ruled much of Dara Happa several times and Praxians have been trading for many years, so composite bows are far more common that might be imagined. Having something more common should reduce the price.

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10 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Lets see. According to your source later 1460s (the highest price) is 2 shillings per bow. 2 shillings is 24d, or close to a month's pay. The lowesr price, 1 shilling (12d) is about two weeks pay. There is no longbow in RQ2, but there was one in RQ3, with the same price as the composite bow, so we can use that price, 150L here.  That does seem high compared to the prices for swords. So I think you've proved your point. 

 

That price, 1 months wage, matches up with what I had above in pence.

 

The problem here is that we have little to go on regarding a weeks wage in Glorantha. All we have is a note that 1L is worth 1£  ,pre-WWII . If it's 40L/week we'd be in the 1 month's pay territory. If 80L/week then 2 weeks pay. Either are nice as far as thinking in terms of an hourly (1L or 2L per hour) or daily wage ( 8L or 16L pey day) , not that they would think that way. I suspect that 40L per day is too high though.

I meant a crafter's wage, not an untrained labourer's. In 1460s a thatcher (ie. not the best earning craftsman) would have made 5.5p a day according to http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/120D/Money.html so the more expensive bow would have cost under a week's wage. And as for a Gloranthan crafter's weekly wage, that would range from 1.5 to 4 (p. 65 in RQG, and working 40 weeks a year).

RQ3 lunars are worth about RQG's clacks. In the RQ3 Deluxe Edition self bows' prices were 150L, and longbows' and composite bows' were 350L, which would also have been too high.

Bows cost too much in all RPGs I've seen. My guess is that Arneson and Gygax just made all the weapons doing the same damage cost about the same, and everyone's been copying them.

Edited by Brootse

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19 hours ago, Humakt said:

My work is related with trees, so I’m curious about that price on yew, a mature timber of yew is rare to have so to make bow may be is not very old ones? From branches? Or it must have any special characteristics or part of the tree?

Adding to what others have posted about bowstaves, here's a cross cut of a longbow found on the Mary Rose:

qmyKIqy.jpg

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15 hours ago, soltakss said:

I think that RQG prices tend to go with the concept that "swords and bows are expensive and only the elite can adfford them", whereas a lot of people have been brouight up with images of medieval people carrying swords and bows routinely.

Personally, I prefer them to be fairly routine items.

Even composite bows, which were once the preserve of nomad groups, are pretty much freely available. Don't forget that, in Glorantha, Pentians ruled much of Dara Happa several times and Praxians have been trading for many years, so composite bows are far more common that might be imagined. Having something more common should reduce the price.

Bow?  Absolutely routine.  Commonplace, even.  Sure, some places had great stands of terrific wood and made better bows than others, but the MAKING of a bow was pretty straightforward, straightforward enough that they were pretty much a standard peasant's tool for hunting.  Bows were made of wood; wood was everywhere.

Sword?  HIGHLY uncommon.  Not only were the materials and expertise for making them expensive, they really were optimal for killing people.  For Joe Serf, a good solid knife was many times more useful.

Good info on http://www.bow-international.com/features/traditional/native-bow-woods/ including (what may be surprising to some) that English Yew...was NOT ideal for bowmaking.

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6 hours ago, styopa said:

Bow?  Absolutely routine.  Commonplace, even. 

Where tolerated.

When you have a strong centralized power (like e.g. the Roman Empire, after having dealt with the Iceni revolt), you may take a dim look at native farmers having tools that could be used against your military.

The ancient world invented castes to deal with this problem. Wielding a weapon became a privilege.

6 hours ago, styopa said:

Sure, some places had great stands of terrific wood and made better bows than others, but the MAKING of a bow was pretty straightforward, straightforward enough that they were pretty much a standard peasant's tool for hunting.  Bows were made of wood; wood was everywhere.

Doesn't it follow that rather than giving the price for a bow, the rules should give a price for the tools to make one, and the time it needs? Seriously. Much like weapon proficiency with a firearm should include proper maintenance and repairs, shouldn't proficiency with a self bow include making a replacement?

 

6 hours ago, styopa said:

Good info on http://www.bow-international.com/features/traditional/native-bow-woods/ including (what may be surprising to some) that English Yew...was NOT ideal for bowmaking.

That article ties its usefulness to the too moderate and clement climate. Let me note that the heyday of the English Longbow followed a Little Ice Age (the one that destroyed the Greenland colony of Icelanders), so the yew harvested following that century may have been way better suited.

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7 hours ago, styopa said:

Bow?  Absolutely routine.  Commonplace, even.  Sure, some places had great stands of terrific wood and made better bows than others, but the MAKING of a bow was pretty straightforward, straightforward enough that they were pretty much a standard peasant's tool for hunting.  Bows were made of wood; wood was everywhere.

Sword?  HIGHLY uncommon.  Not only were the materials and expertise for making them expensive, they really were optimal for killing people.  For Joe Serf, a good solid knife was many times more useful.

Good info on http://www.bow-international.com/features/traditional/native-bow-woods/ including (what may be surprising to some) that English Yew...was NOT ideal for bowmaking.

Yeah, this exactly.

 

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Where tolerated.

When you have a strong centralized power (like e.g. the Roman Empire, after having dealt with the Iceni revolt), you may take a dim look at native farmers having tools that could be used against your military.

The ancient world invented castes to deal with this problem. Wielding a weapon became a privilege.

Doesn't it follow that rather than giving the price for a bow, the rules should give a price for the tools to make one, and the time it needs? Seriously. Much like weapon proficiency with a firearm should include proper maintenance and repairs, shouldn't proficiency with a self bow include making a replacement?

 

That article ties its usefulness to the too moderate and clement climate. Let me note that the heyday of the English Longbow followed a Little Ice Age (the one that destroyed the Greenland colony of Icelanders), so the yew harvested following that century may have been way better suited.

I've read that the Qin dynasty confiscated weapons, but not that the Roman Empire tried it. And I haven't read about the Lunar Empire trying to confiscate Sartarite or Pavisite weapons. Giving hunters and bow using soldiers and warriors some percentage on Craft(Bowyer) would make sense, but all archers didn't make their own bows. Adding rules for bowmaking would be great.

 

 

Continuing on composite bows. Sure, some were posh status symbols for kings and nobles, like the 100k $ Beretta shotguns of today. But your average nomad could also afford a composite bow, while he couldn't afford a sword or a metal armor.

Edited by Brootse

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12 hours ago, Brootse said:

I've read that the Qin dynasty confiscated weapons, but not that the Roman Empire tried it.

One of the many reasons for the Iceni Revolt was that the Romans took away their weapons. One of the reasons the Angles took over East Anglia so easily was that the Iceni were stripped of all their weapons after the revolt.

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19 minutes ago, soltakss said:

One of the reasons the Angles took over East Anglia so easily was that the Iceni were stripped of all their weapons after the revolt.

Several centuries between the two events, and the Saxons were brought in initially as infantry mercenaries, in the southeast by the Romans and then by the Romano-British - and as the province broke up into different kingdoms, mostly following the lines of the old Roman administrative regions but also some old tribal divisions, there are suggestions that the Romano-British elite were primarily cavalry, and then in just about every kingdom the mercenaries ultimately staged a coup, the exception being, probably Wessex, where the Saxon king lists include Romano-British nobles. The Romano-British in the southeast then adopted Saxon ways and language, as the old political and economic systems collapsed as part of the western Roman decline and fall.

It's sort of a reverse of events in southern Peloria, where a large number of the population become Lunarized, until the Hero Wars.

Edited by M Helsdon

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13 minutes ago, soltakss said:

One of the many reasons for the Iceni Revolt was that the Romans took away their weapons. One of the reasons the Angles took over East Anglia so easily was that the Iceni were stripped of all their weapons after the revolt.

Interesting, was this something that Romans did elsewhere?

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I recommend the following as it gives a wide range of data for several centuries on bows - the issue is clearly quality and custom fit really cost otherwise really rather cheap (if perhaps nasty)

Archery in Medieval England: Who Were the Bowmen of Crecy?

By Richard Wadge

There are three Major costs in any Quality non-composite bow. The careful selection and long seasoning as a skilled and controlled process is the first - representing a very significant sunk capital cost. The second is the cost of the skill that takes years to develop and to retain - this is a premium product and its application cannot generally be accelerated.  The third element is the time of the customer as such bows are definitely fitted and customised most carefully.

Composite bows and quality powerful "self" bows (for a longbow is "merely" a large specialist self bow with some careful customised selection and finishing that helps mimic strengths of composite construction) both have long slow stages in them but at opposite ends of the process. Careful selection, working, seasoning and production of a quality bow stave is a process (historically) of years with a high "failure" (that is less than desired outcomes) rate. Modern bows and bow wood etc can truncate a lot of this with technological cheats treating the wood to achieve what time was needed for.

For Composite bows this is the careful and considered "drying" (because the agents can't actually be let fully dry), successive applications of the various components and then the vital protective finishing. Again customising requires much time of the customer as the bowyer. The vital question for Gloranthan is what effect will magic have PLUS does Glorantha use "Hot Box" techniques for shaping and drying and finishing / sealing? When and whom used what parts of these arts is real blood on the floor territory for competing "schools". What IS clear is that some parts of these techniques are evidenced very very early on in the construction of bows found and examined.

All significant cultures using massed archery demonstrate a degree of massive production of "standardish" items to or within general limits - an economic necessity for both those making the bows and for those organising the users. That England employed massed archery Without anything like the same use of bulk standard is both an edge at its peak and a major likely factor in decline. In the "barbarian belt societies" such as the Orlanthi represent bulk production should be non-standard. The issue would be the degree of customisation - custom bows Should use the archers full abilities (if affordable) and certainly more of than not.

The point frequently missed though is that it is the ammunition that places the absolute limits on bow striking power. With a tanged arrow fitted to a shaft and not very expensively finished (the bindings needed use both much skilled time and non-trivial cost materials) past a limit adding to the power reduces effectiveness on protected targets - the shaft splits on impact and much energy and momentum is lost. The European answer was the socketed arrow head - now that is a skilled pieve of work and expensive.

The critical point for Europe and handgonnes was the cost of ammunition - as this rapidly dropped firearms became so much more usable and attractive.

Edited by Furry Fella
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12 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Several centuries between the two events, and the Saxons were brought in initially as infantry mercenaries, in the southeast by the Romans and then by the Romano-British - and as the province broke up into different kingdoms, mostly following the lines of the old Roman administrative regions but also some old tribal divisions, there are suggestions that the Romano-British elite were primarily cavalry, and then in just about every kingdom the mercenaries ultimately staged a coup, the exception being, probably Wessex, where the Saxon king lists include Romano-British nobles. The Romano-British in the southeast then adopted Saxon ways and language, as the old political and economic systems collapsed as part of the western Roman decline and fall.

It's sort of a reverse of events in southern Peloria, where a large number of the population become Lunarized, until the Hero Wars.

The current archaeology suggests very strongly that "Saxon or Germanic if you prefer "take over" in the north was probably very largely peaceful and in places entirely one of being or choosing to be co-opted as there is very very little change in the recovered DNA and basically no evidence of sustained conflict. This is the North and west - what would be come the center of Northumbria.

Much is being argued of the whole "invasion" story and about population replacement etc. There is something significant to this just I doubt very very strongly the views of those such as Francis Pryor who want to claim there was no war or conquest. To me the inescapable problem is the Anglo Saxon Chronicle - the Saxons say they had to fight big time. There is also far too much contemporary historical / literary material for 5th to 6th centuries for the revisionists to be doing other than throwing the baby out to.

Edited by Furry Fella

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