The military strengths and tactics of the Anglo-Normans were advanced in many ways to what that the native Irish could offer in response, however, when the Irish choose the terrain to attack and then vanish, it was a different story. The Normans had specially bred battle horses which enabled their knights to excel on firm ground, while the Irish, with their strapped on stirrups, allowed for faster movement on smaller powerful horses in marsh, forest and on hilly terrain. The Normans had chainmail (see photos) protecting them from sword slashes in addition to the casque or nose helmet (see photos) which was designed to protect the head, face and neck from missiles and swords.

A Norman favourite, the medieval longbow usually fashioned from the yew tree, was a particularly lethal weapon. There were two kinds of medieval armour, chain mail (see photos) and plate armour. Arrow heads (bodkins) were designed to penetrate both (see photo). The arrow was made from straight wooden shafts with the feathers, or fletching on one end, and the arrowhead on the other. The fletching was used so the arrow would travel true. The Gaelic medieval throwing dart had a leather strip attached for the same purpose (see photos of dart). As the dart is thrown, the strap is pulled to generate a spiral similar to the effect rifling has on a bullet, this was a formidable silent killer.

The Norman crossbow used bolts and was not effective at long range and was prone to mechanical breakdown but was valuable in confined areas such as embrasures within castles in addition to be effective against armour.

The Norman kite shield was well designed with a curved body of up to 100 cm in diameter to deflect missiles; it was also used to display the coat of arms of the knight. While on horseback the knight could cover his entire body with the shield and using straps inside the shield control his horse, this allowed him a free hand to use a spear or sword. On the outside of the shields, an iron boss was commonly used as added protection. The Gaelic shield was a round piece of timber with a boss of iron or leather and was used to protect against darts and also to strike their enemy (see photo).

The Norman spear was a wooden shaft with an iron head which was sharpened; it could be used by thrusting at the enemy. The Norman swords were of a simple design, they had a cross-guard to protect the hand and a broad two-edged blade that narrowed to a shallow point. The swords varied greatly in quality, from the plain iron-bladed swords used by poorer soldiers to the finely-made steel-bladed weapons popular with the lords.
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