Friday, January 03, 2014


Plucke-buffet is an archery game described in the 15th century ballad A Geste of Robyn Hode. Two poles are set up beneath the trees a considerable distance apart: "By fyfty pase, our kynge sayd, The merkes were to longe". A rose garland hung from each pole, and archer who shot outside the garland both forfeited that arrow and received a buffet from his opponent, a heavy blow to their bare head. What larks!

If you shot within the garland, hitting the pole was best. The ballad reports with approval that Robin and "Gylberte with the Whyte Hande" " ever...cleved the wande" except when Robin missed. Presumably, if shots were within the garland but missed the pole, the closest shot would win.

The game only appears in the one ballad, and may be entirely fictional, but it does give an idea of how medieval archers might have shot at a garland. Shots outside the garland were useless at best: the winner would be the shot that came closest to a mark within it.

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