Does This Make My Butts Look Big?

When my sister and I were in England to research a novel, on the outskirts of many a quaint village we saw signs that read “The Butts.”   Needless to say, this caused much speculation.  Walking around Shaftesbury in Dorset, we met an elderly woman outside her stone cottage, and  joined her as she watched workmen re-thatch her roof.

“That’s a woman who appreciates tradition,” I thought.  I asked if she knew the significance of The Butts.  Of course, she did!

In 1363, a law was enacted requiring all men to own a bow, and to focus on their archery skills every Sunday, so the king might call upon each village for archers in time of war.  This law forbade “on pain of death, all sport that took up time better spent on war training, especially archery practice.”   The places assigned for this were called The Butts, after the mounds of earth they leaned the targets against.  To avoid accidents, The Butts were usually situated just outside the village.  But wherever there are weapons, there are accidents.  King Henry I passed a law absolving anyone who accidentally killed someone during target practice.

The longbows were made of the strong flexible wood of the yew tree.  In every churchyard there was a yew.  One of many explanations for this is that in a churchyard the yew would be protected until many new longbows would be needed to defend the kingdom.  But the yew trees are still there, shading the churchyards.  Nowadays there are so many better ways to spend a Sunday, and so many better things to focus on.

c2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Oddball Challenge: Week 9.



  1. mikereverb says:

    Haha! So if you were one of the unlucky souls who got hit by an arrow during Sunday practice, you could legitimately say you got shot in The Butt!

    I love learning something new from your posts, Naomi. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Hah! Good one, Mike! And wherever you got hit, it would be a pain in the butt.

  2. Fabulous. Text and photos!!

    1. Thank you, Suzanne.

  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Brilliant! You went to Shaftsbury? that’s not too far from here.

    1. I love Shaftesbury! We set our novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring, in Shaftesbury and Enmore Green, at the foot of the outcrop Shaftesbury is built on. Whereabouts are you? I traveled over there three times to get to know the terrain and the history well enough to write the book.

  4. scillagrace says:

    A little history, a bunch of humor, a whole lotta happy post! I love your family. Am I too old to adopt?

    1. There is always room for on more! I feel the same way about Team Galasso.

  5. Tina Schell says:

    LOL! Nice post! Never heard of it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to comment.

  6. Lisaman says:

    That was a fascinating read§§ Good luck in the research!!

    1. Thanks so much. I just started a new novel, and I LOVE being in the Middle Ages again!

  7. adinparadise says:

    A very interesting an entertaining post, Naomi. Love all your pics, especially the daisy chain one. It brought back memories of the seemingly endless, long summer days of my childhood. 🙂

    1. Thank you, ad. I do remember making flower crowns while listening to the honey bees buzzing from flower to flower.

  8. You have quite a sense of humor. Thanks for the history on The Butts.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Susan. It’s always good to hear from you.

      1. Thanks Naomi. It’s always good to read your blog. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the visit, and for making me smile.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lesley. I got your book, The Wishmas Tree, a couple of days ago. I think the delay was due to the zip code mix-up. Thank you so much for sending it. I love that you illustrated it as well as wrote it. You have captured the longing in a child’s heart.

      1. Oh my goodness. What a delay. Here I was thinking you may receive it for Christmas break at least. I am discovering my tenancy toward dyslexia – it explains so many things. Enjoy!!

  9. diannegray says:

    This is fabulous, Naomi and a great post for the challenge. I didn’t know about The Butts. Sunday archery practice would have been a good way to get rid of someone you disliked without being prosecuted!

    1. Oh, yeah. I’m sure there are some untold stories there.

  10. Kourtney Heintz says:

    I love your posts Naomi! Just learned what the purpose of The Butts was. But I still love your interpretation of it! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kourtney. I am really enjoying going through old notes and photos as I gear up to do another historical. I came upon this photo and decided to have a little fun with it.

  11. pattisj says:

    Cute and interesting post. How fun that you and your sister could travel there for research.

  12. ShimonZ says:

    A very educational post, and greatly enhanced by an opportunity to contemplate butts. Thank you so much, Naomi

    1. Dear Shimon,
      Thank you for your comment. It made me laugh out loud.

  13. jakesprinter says:

    I really enjoy your post Naomi ,Thanks for sharing my friend 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jake. So glad you stopped by. I really enjoy the challenges that you pose for your readers.

  14. This was “unique” even though I know that was another theme 🙂

    1. Thank you! I should have made it a ‘twofer!” I sure appreciate your visit, and your thoughtful comment.

      1. I do enjoy my visits to your blog 🙂

  15. What fabulous pictures, Naomi. As I’ve mentioned previously, you do a wonderful pictorial journal. The photos are so sharp. Lovely.

    1. Thank you, Cathryn!

  16. tita buds says:

    Fun post! Butt seriously, I learned something new today. 🙂

    1. Hah! Funny butt true, Tita!

  17. Lynne Ayers says:

    My goodness, the interesting bits and pieces you can pick up in casual conversation. These research trips must be so much fun.

    1. Hi Lynne,
      I love traveling just for fun, but when I am researching a novel, maybe not even knowing quite what I am looking for, it pushes me out of my comfort zone, I meet people I otherwise wouldn’t speak to, and there is the satisfaction of knowing I will be able to use that bit in my story. I always love learning about new places and periods in history, but I love the added sense of purpose.

  18. We were just last week introduced (by a Canadian) to a wonderful English hard cider called StrongBow. It’s got a great logo and a mellow buzz. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it during archery practice, however!

  19. nutsfortreasure says:

    Good one
    Full of Smiles now

  20. TBM says:

    Interesting. How did they know someone was accidentally shot during target practice or murdered? I’ll keep my eyes open for butt signs when I’m out rambling.

    1. I’m sure there would be some sort of hearing, but it’s a very good question.

  21. viveka says:

    Thanks for the big smile and all the eye candies. Great post.

  22. Madhu says:

    Very funny Naomi 😆

  23. 4amWriter says:

    Thanks for the Butts lesson! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the visit!

  24. Naomi,
    You crack me up, but thanks for the interesting history lesson.

    1. Hi Darla,
      Thank you for stopping by. I really do enjoy my historical fun facts, and I really do love to hear from you!

  25. Again, great pictures, Naomi!

    1. Hey, Maggie, thank you for your ever generous response!

  26. My Tropical Home says:

    Oh, Naomi! I love you and your butts story! I’m supposed to go offline now but really I just had to look at this post…take care and thanks for this! 🙂

    1. Mary, you have made me laugh more than once tonight. You are so funny. I guess I should resort to potty talk more often! I am SO glad you stopped by. Give your little ones a hug for me.

  27. Jamie Dedes says:

    Henry I … oh my!
    Wonderful butts, BTW.

    1. I’d like to say they take after their father!

  28. Imelda says:

    Your post reminded me of Ranger’s Apprentice. You see, in the Kingdom of Araluen, there are plenty of archers because each village was required to train some of its men in archery. This ancient English law and practice must, of course, be the model for the story. Oh well, my head is full of details from the book since I had just finished Book 10.

    1. That sounds really interesting. If you are on Book 10 you must really like it.

  29. eof737 says:

    You are hysterical. I love this post; lovely mi dear 🙂

  30. Interesting stuff. Love the shot of the girl in the grass doing some craft.

    1. Thank you. That is my daughter weaving a crown of clover. Same little girl from the post on mountains, only much more grown up!

  31. Wow! What an interesting story!!

    1. Look what I found! Better late than never! Thanks so much for the visit, Iris.

  32. Passenger says:

    Wonderful info. Thank for sharing it and the lovely photos. I love cemeteries.

    1. Thank you for the visit, and for sharing your kind response!

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