Arrowheads: Straight to the Point

Arrowheads have been an essential component of projectile weapons for thousands of years, serving various purposes ranging from warfare to hunting.

These heads were crafted with precision and were designed to fulfill specific requirements based on the intended use. Here we explore some common arrowhead types used throughout history.

The Beginning

In the earliest stages of human civilisation, our ancestors relied on simple and crude arrowheads made from stone, bone, or antler.

These early heads were typically triangular or leaf-shaped, crafted through the process of flint knapping. Flint, obsidian, and other durable stones were skilfully shaped and honed to create sharp and effective arrowheads.

These early arrowheads were crucial for hunting game. They provided ancient hunters with a means to secure food and ensure their survival.


In medieval times, the use of arrowheads reached new heights with the advent of bodkin points.

Broadhead Arrowheads

Broadhead arrows are characterised by their wide cutting blades, making them highly effective for hunting and warfare. They are designed to deliver deep penetration and create large wound channels, maximising the chances of a clean kill.

Read More: Unearthed Rare 1000 Year-Old Viking Arrowhead

Broadheads can be fixed-blade or expandable-blade types. Fixed-blade broadheads have stationary blades that remain open, while expandable-blade broadheads have blades that deploy upon impact.

Bodkin Arrowheads

Bodkin arrowheads were widely used in medieval warfare, especially against heavily armoured opponents. They featured a narrow, triangular shape with a sharply pointed tip. Bodkins were designed to penetrate armour by concentrating the force of impact into a small area, allowing them to pierce through gaps or weak points in the armour.

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They were particularly effective against mail armour and plate armour.

Barbed Arrowheads

Barbed arrowheads have backward-facing hooks or barbs along the edges, which cause the arrow to become embedded in the target upon impact. This design makes it difficult to remove the arrow and increases the chances of inflicting a lethal wound.

Medieval arrowheads.
Medieval arrowheads have a wide range of uses.

Barbed arrowheads were commonly used for hunting large game, as they prevented the animal from easily dislodging the arrow and escaping.

Blunt Arrowheads

Blunt arrowheads are not designed for penetration. Instead, they are meant to deliver a non-lethal impact, typically used for hunting small game or in certain sports and recreational activities. Blunt heads have a flat or rounded tip, dispersing the force upon impact and minimising the risk of causing severe injury.

Armour-Piercing Arrowheads

Armour-piercing arrows were specifically developed to overcome heavy armour. They often featured a combination of sturdy construction, reinforced tips, and specialised designs aimed at maximising their penetration capabilities. These arrowheads were commonly used during periods of history when armour played a significant role in warfare, such as the medieval era.

Fire Basket

The fire basket arrowhead is a unique and fascinating type of arrowhead that has its origins in medieval Europe. This specialised arrowhead served a specific purpose related to warfare and combat, offering a distinct advantage on the battlefield.

The fire basket arrowhead, also known as a flammable arrowhead or a fire arrowhead, was designed to carry and ignite flammable materials upon impact.

It consisted of a metal frame or basket attached to the shaft of the arrow, which could hold combustible substances such as cloth, pitch, or even small explosives. The basket was usually made of iron or steel and had an open structure, allowing the contents to be easily ignited upon striking a target

Poisoned Arrowheads

Poisoned arrowheads have a dark and infamous history, primarily associated with tribal warfare and hunting practices. These heads were coated with toxic substances extracted from various plants or venomous creatures. The poison enhanced the arrow’s lethality, as even a minor wound inflicted by a poisoned arrow could cause serious illness or death.

Got The Point?

Throughout history, different civilisations and cultures developed their own variations of arrows, incorporating unique features and materials to suit their specific needs. Arrowhead technology evolved alongside advancements in metalwork and warfare tactics, resulting in a diverse range of arrowhead designs.

Read More: 800 Year old Complete Chain Mail Vest Discovered 

It is important to note that modern hunting and sport regulations often dictate the use of specific arrowhead types to ensure ethical practices and the preservation of wildlife.

As such, understanding the intended purpose and regulations surrounding arrowheads is crucial for responsible and sustainable use in contemporary contexts.


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