about 1190), in his biography of Thomas Becket, gives a graphic sketch of the London of his day and, writing of the summer amusements of the young men, says that on holidays they were "exercised in Leaping, Shooting, Wrestling, Casting of Stones [in jactu lapidum], and Throwing of Javelins fitted with Loops for the Purpose, which they strive to fling before the Mark; they also use Bucklers, like fighting Men."
While the use of the bow and arrow does not seem to have occurred to them, the spear and axe are in general use, commonly made of hard-wood; the hatchets of stone, and the javelins pointed' with stone or bone.
The archers shot well and with strong bows, though their arrows were generally tipped only with stone or bone; their shields or targets, mostly round, were of ordinary barbaric forms; the spears or javelins had heads of obsidian or bronze, and were sometimes hurled with a spear-thrower or atlatl, of which pictures and specimens still exist, showing it to be similar in principle to those used by the Australians and Eskimo.
The armies were very large, an expedition often consisting of several divisions, each numbering eight thousand men; but the tactics of the commanders were quite rudimentary, consisting merely of attack by arrows and javelins at a distance, gradually closing into a hand-to-hand fight with clubs and spears, with an occasional feigned retreat to draw the enemy into an ambuscade.
The advantage of this arrangement was that it left all hands free to fight, a barrier could be formed with the oars and yards, and the enemy's chance of making use of his superior numbers to attack on both sides would be, as far as possible, limited - a great point when all fighting was with the sword, or with such feeble missile weapons as bows and javelins.