In medieval times , arrow wounds were a formidable challenge, and the methods employed to treat them were both fascinating and grim. A historical study reveals that arrow removal techniques have been practiced for thousands of years, tracing back to the Romans and Persians. However, in medieval Europe, the church’s suppression of surgery hindered medical advancements. Battlefield wounds from arrowheads were severe and agonizing. The range of arrowheads used included bodkin and broadhead types, each with unique characteristics that required specific extraction tools. Bodkins were particularly dangerous due to their ability to smash through armor.
Medieval surgeons used various methods to treat arrow wounds, including honey and poultices to combat infections. To extract embedded arrowheads, specialized tools like metal spikes and forceps were utilized. In extreme cases, crossbows or longbows were employed to forcefully push or pull the arrow through the body. Intriguingly, despite the limitations and hardships, these medical efforts showcase the determination of medieval societies to mitigate the gruesome consequences of arrow-inflicted injuries.
Top image: Fallen knight struck by arrows. Source: Jacob / Adobe Stock.