Silver Arrow archery competition

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The Silver Arrow archery competition was held annually in the University of St Andrews from about 1618 to the 1750s. Each year before the competition the medals of previous victors were attached to silver arrows and paraded down to the Bow Butts, the archery range. Three silver arrows and seventy medals survive. Each medal is unique, though most bear the coat of arms of the victor on the obverse and the figure of an archer on the reverse. Some bear a Latin quotation, expressing the winner's attitude to his triumph. Each medal was paid for by the winner, and may reflect his wealth, learning and social position. Several winners of the Silver Arrow competition became, in later life, key figures in the social, cultural, intellectual, scientific and / or political development of Scotland. For example, James Graham, later 1st Marquis of Montrose (victor 1628), Captain General of Charles I's forces in Scotland and Archibald Campbell, later 1st Marquis of Argyll (1623), who was one of the leaders of the opposing side in the Civil War; Alexander Robertson of Struan (1687), a prominent Jacobite; and William Murray, later Marquis of Tullibardine (1706), who unfurled Bonnie Prince Charlie's standard at Glenfinnan in 1745.

Depicted here are the medals of Robert Douglas, Lord Dalkeith, in 1622 and 1624, two of 70 surviving Silver Arrow archery competition medals, and 3 silver arrows, from the Silver Arrow archery competition at the University.

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  •  University of St Andrews


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    Last modified: Tuesday, 01 February 2022