Dave B

Dave B

Posted on 10/21/2015

Photo taken on October 19, 2015


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Prestbury church and marks of Mediaeval social life

Prestbury church and marks of Mediaeval social life
They are not marks of architecture or of mystical practices but of actual social life from the 1300's. At least, that was what I was always told about them. I refer to the two dark curved grooves at the right of the picture. Back in the 13 and 1400's the prime weapon of the English army was the feared Longbow (sometimes called the English but also the Welsh Longbow) but it had one great disadvantage. It was hard to master and needed considerable strength and skill to use effectively. Add to which the government of the day could not afford an a standing army of any size (nothing new there then) and expected to call on the general population to rally when needed. Hence, there were laws to make that population war-ready. It was expected that all workers (usually farm workers who had year round tasks) practise the longbow on holidays. They used churchyards as places which were largely free of buildings and convenient for use after Sunday services (Sunday, after-all, being a holy day free from most work.) Those marks are grooves said to be where the archers sharpened their practice arrows during such activities. I would imagine, in the nature of things, such practices would turn into joyous social meetings.

This formidable weapon needed hours of practice to build up the muscles specially needed for their use. Skeletons of archers can be recognised from their abnormal bone development. I have read that the archers of the battles of Crecy 1346 and Agincourt 1415 could have out-performed in range, fire-power, and accuracy the Redcoats of Waterloo 1815. The trouble was those archers took years to prepare whereas the redcoats took weeks.

Finally, the cream of the longbowmen were said to be the Cheshire archers and, of those, the first to be recruited into the army of Edward III came from the Macclesfield Hundred (Cheshire East to-day) which main church was here at Prestbury. Perhaps these marks have direct links to Crecy and Agincourt.

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