Crossbow and Bolt Box

Dublin Core


Crossbow and Bolt Box


These two items represent extravagantly decorated equipment used explicitly for sport. The crossbow is made of walnut with an engraved staghorn inlay and etched and partially gilded steel. It is covered with intricate etching and details, including images of men hunting, as well as shapes and figures covering the main section of the bow from top to bottom. The use of staghorn is notable because it represents a hunted animal's horns that were used in the production of a tool for hunting.
The Bolt Box is made of wood with a walnut veneer, partially stained staghorn, and mother of pearl inlay. It, too, is designed to be aesthetically pleasing with intricate, small patterns covering the entirety of the box. Inside, it contains crossbow bolts made of wood, feather, and brass.
This pair of objects suggests that hunting with a crossbow was not just a sport for higher class individuals. They could also afford to purchase more extravagant and well-decorated materials in order to stand out and demonstrate their wealth on the hunt. Even the hunting weapon -- an instrument that must maintain its functionality above all other priorities -- has been treated with immense care to look good while it is being used. These items suggest that the hunt could become as much of a pageant as it was a violent endeavor.


Photo taken by Elena Prieto


Made in Germany


Philadelphia Museum of Art


Crossbow from 1550, box from 1730


Crossbow 1.jpg
Crossbow 2.jpg


Photo taken by Elena Prieto, “Crossbow and Bolt Box,” War & Conquest in Medieval Europe, accessed July 13, 2020,