Shield Evidence

Irish and European fighting styles and techniques, and the required Arms & Armour

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Shield Evidence

Postby bonnacon on Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:06 am

Hi all,

I am looking to make some new shields and I was wondering what examples of them (either extant samples or in art) we have from around 900 to 1100 ACE. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is the Book of Kells warrior (yes, the one with his bits out). Are there any others?
Also, what thickness do you recommend I make it? I was one of the first people in the group I was in ages ago to use 12mm ply (most before then was 15mm up) on the maxim of making it lighter so that you move faster, but I was thinking of around 6-9mm with a felt (or possibly leather) facing, and a good edge binding like leather (I've been reading up on extant Roman and Viking shield thicknesses). Let me know what you all think!

Thanks,

Jon
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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby brendan on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:39 pm

Is this for Viking or Irish?
Are you looking for serviceable/disposable or something that is authentic?

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby bonnacon on Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:27 am

Hi Brendan,

I'm looking at Irish. In regards to whether it is to be useable or authentic, I am really trying to get it to be as accurately useable as possible.

Thanks heaps,

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby the_power on Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:23 pm

Native Irish shield finds are pretty limited (as in, I've never seen any), after around 1000BCE.

In the ninth and tenth century, Viking Dublin produced a kind of a home-grown shield and shield boss. This was a much smaller conical shield boss, too small to fit a clenched fist inside, and which must have been gripped in some other way. Possibly a handle that stands-off the main shield (i.e. 30mm or so away from the plane of the wood). The associated shield board was also almost certainly smaller (than the Gokstad type), perhaps only about 50cm in diameter.

There was also a larger conical boss form, which was indigenous to the Irish Sea area in the ninth and tenth century, and which also turns up in Dublin (an example was recently found on Linzi Simpson's excavation at South Great George's Street. This was basically an Anglo-Saxon form, but one enthusiastically adopted by insular Scandinavian groups.

Boe, J. 'Norse Antiquities in Ireland', vol 3 of H. Shetelig (ed) Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland (Oslo 1940) has poor quality photographs of 9 / 10th C Dublin finds, including 'Scandinavian' and 'Dublin' types. Halpin's recent book has some half-decent photos/drawings too. There is an image of the Ballinaby (very like the Dublin type) shield boss in J. Anderson's article on 'Ballinaby' in 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland'. - see page 11. OK, so it's scottish, but it is very like the vike shields described here.

As I'm sure you know, this is now available online, via their website. This boss has a surviving metal grip, which may give some idea of shield board diameter.

For the larger, conical, 'Irish Sea' type of boss, see can you get a copy of 'The Millhill Burial in Context' from the Acta Archaeologica Supplementa journal, a 2000 publication. I have a text-only copy here; http://livinghistory.ie/~valen/millhill.html - but I don't have the original images.

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby bonnacon on Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:19 pm

Thanks for that John. With the smaller bosses that you speak of, is it the depth of the boss or the actual diameter which is smaller than your standard type?

And would it be fairly accurate to use the shield thicknesses of some of the scandinavian finds, seeing as though there are no extant examples in Ireland? This article http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/shield/shield.html has some interesting information in it.

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby the_power on Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:45 pm

Well, not if you want to make use of it for combat. Most vike shields seem to have a 6mm rim or so, which isn't suitable for reenactment at all..it'll get destroyed in a day, never mind the pain you could inflict if you hit someone with it. I've made shields where I used 10mm planks, then reeinforced the center with another 8mm or so for 20cm around the boss.

Yes, the Irish bosses were smaller in depth and diameter. Small enough you couldn't get your hand into it comfortably. Not all bosses mind, just the majority.

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby bonnacon on Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:21 am

Hi John,

Do you have/know of a place where I can see pictures of the bosses?

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby the_power on Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:23 pm

There is a partial one, found in Dublin, in Halpin's book. I promise to scan it in tonight. The other, found at millhill in Scotland, I've only seen one good photo/drawing of - and I'd need jstor access to get it again. Can someone with jstor access contact me and I'll see can I rip out a drawing.

I'm tempted to see could we get a batch of these "dublin" bosses made up - hand forged, rather than spun. It would be nice whenever a bunch of Irish get together on a battlefield somewhere.

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby the_power on Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:48 pm

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Re: Shield Evidence

Postby Seathrun on Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:56 pm

Just found this
Seth


BRONZE SHIELD FOUND IN IHS:, NEAK YETHOLU. ROXBUBOUSBIBE.



{ 4R7 )



BRONZE SHIELDS.

BT BET. JAMES QRATES, A. B.

In the " Journal" of the Association, vol. ii., 4th series,
p. 118, will be found an accurate engraving of one of the
rarest of the remains of the late bronze period — a round
bronze shield, with handle inside, showing that it was not
borne on the arm, but grasped in the hand in the same
manner as was the round Highland targe. Many speci-
mens of the Highland targe —

'' Whose brazen studs and tough buU-hide,
Had death so often dashed aside " —

are preserved ; and several of them may be seen in the
Museum of Antiquities at Edinburgh. In the same Mu-
seum is a bronze shield similar in almost every particular
to that found near Ballynamona, Co. Limerick, and not
far from Lough Gur, where so many bronze arms and im-

f)lements were discovered when that sheet of water was
owered about thirty years ago. By the permission of
the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, an engraving of
the shield in their Museum, and which was found in 1837
near Yetholm, Roxburghshire, is here given. The shield
found in the Co. Limerick, was described (loc. cit) by
Maurice Lenehan, M. R. I. A., and by his means it is now
preserved in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy.
It is almost a regular circle, measuring 28 in. in its widest,
and 27^ in. in its least diameter. The shield is convex,
the centre being about l-J- in. above the rim, and the umboj
which is 6 in. wide at the base, rising in conical form 1^ in.
above the shield. The hollow of the umbo internally is
crossed by a stout handle, firmly rivetted to the shield,
of sheet bronze bent into a round. The metal of the
shield is formed at the edge into a round hollow rim by
being most skilfully turned inwards into a roll -J- in. wide ;
between it and the umbo are six beaten up circular ribs,
and six rows of small studs. In the circle next the rim
there are seventy-three studs, and in that next the umbo
twenty-two. The bronze, which is of a fine golden colour.



488 BRONZE SHIELDS.

is about the thickness of a worn shilling next the rim, and
of a sixpence near the centre. There are two loops inside,
rivetted on, for the strap by which it was carried over
the shoulder when not in use, and the looseness of these
rivets, showing that some material was once inclosed
between the loops and the shield, affords proof that the
latter was lined : some fibrous particles resembling leather
still remain attached to the inside of the shield. It Is
evident that without some such lining the thin bronze of
the shield would be no protection against the thrust of a
spear, the blow of a sword, or the impact of an arrow.
There is a patch of bronze soldered over a small irregular
hole such as an arrow or javelin would make. The pakh
and soldei' are both bronze, and of the same kind as the
metal of the shield, so that we find here proof that it has
" seen service." A comparison with the engraving of the
Yetholm shield will show how nearly alike both are in
almost every particular ; the circle and studs of the latter
are, however, on a smaller scale, and therefore more nu-
merous than on the Irish example. It is remarkable
how small the grasp of the handle is in both ; in this par-
ticular agreeing with the evidence afforded by the hilts of
the bronze swords and rapiers found in Ireland that the
men who used them were a small-handed race. A con-
clusion may be drawn that the covering of the really pro-
tective material of the shield by this thin coating of sheet
bronze must be accounted a progressive, and therefore a
later ^development. . At first probably studs and circles
of bronze were affixed to the wooden or coriaceous mate-
rial of the shield for strengthening it, and not alone for
ornamental purposes. Here they are almost entirely or-
namental, serving little to make the shield more service-
able. That the Irish in the tenth and eleventh centuries
still used round shields of the character just described is
proved by their being borne by the armed men, both on
foot and horseback, sculptured on our stone crosses,
notably on those at Monasterboice, Clonmacnois, and
Kilkieran.
http://www.ravensborg.org/
Trí labra ata ferr túa: ochán ríg do chath, sreth immais, molad iar lúag.
Three speeches that are better than silence: inciting a king to battle,spreading knowledge, praise after reward.
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