The Viking Shield
The Viking Shield
The Viking Shield


If you are interested in the Viking era, you may be interested in learning about the Viking shield. In this article, we'll look at the construction and characteristics of a viking shield and discuss its uses. In addition, we'll discuss the myths and legends surrounding the Viking shield. Read on to learn more! Let's begin! Defend your kingdom and your honor by learning about the viking shield.

viking shields

Vikings were often armed with swords and shields to protect their bodies against the arrows and other weapons used in battle. Their shields were often made of wolf or bear skin, but it's not always clear how these materials would hold up in battle. For this reason, the Vikings made their own shields from readily available materials. In this way, they were able to protect themselves as well as their weapons. This was especially important during times of war, when armour was scarce and even the best piece of armour wouldn't always hold up against the rigors of battle.

Typically 80 to 90 centimeters in diameter, Viking-era shields had a single-layer construction. One such style, the Gokstad shield, was made with seven or eight varying width white pine planks. The planks were approximately six to ten millimeters thick and beveled at the outer edge. Other examples of Viking-era shields have cross-ply constructions. Some Viking-era shields are decorated with wooden strips or pinwheel patterns.

viking shield construction

There are some important aspects of Viking shield construction that you should know. The majority of the Viking shield is made from planks. The edges are held together by multiple iron nails. The planks make up about 80% of the entire shield. When people see it, they'll be attracted to the colors of the planks. And the colors were important for two reasons. They would be the first thing people see when they see the shield.

The main body of the shield is made of seven to eight planks. They're eight to 10 mm thick in the middle, and five to six mm thick at the edges. These planks were usually made of light wood. The Vikings didn't saw logs into planks, instead they split them along the grain to create planks of uniform thickness. The planks were then joined together by other parts of the shield.

viking shield characteristics

While we can't reconstruct the exact construction of viking shields, we can see the basic shape and materials used to create them. The main body of the shield was made of wood pieces split along the grain and butted up one edge to the other, held together by a rim, cross pieces, and a handle. A cover on the shield would add sturdiness and protection from the elements. The wood type used was most likely local trees, but some early medieval armies may have preferred lighter timbers.

The walls of a Viking shield were able to ward off blows better than their opponents. Vikings were known for their fierceness, and their battle strategies were creative and improvisational. Because of this, the walls of a shield were constantly moving forward, taking away space for assailants to swing, preventing them from striking the target. As a result, the shield was regularly broken during battle, though it may not be the main cause of the Vikings' deaths.

viking shield uses

Among the many things you may not know about the Vikings is how they defended themselves and their lands. Among the many aspects of Viking shields, they were often large and circular in shape. Viking age shields date to about c.905 AD and are very similar to the Danish weapon deposits from the Roman Iron Age. Unfortunately, as Christianity began to take hold in Europe, archaeological evidence of Viking Age weapons dried up. Despite this, Lewis chessmen and other discoveries in the Insular region suggest that the Vikings had embraced kite shields in the twelfth century. And even if they did, they may have adopted the native Insular shields.

The Vikings used the shield as a barrier and to subdue opponents. In the saga of Njall, for example, a warrior named Sveinn surrounded the sons of Njall with a shield. He refused to kill the captured men, arguing that it was the time of night to not be killed. Eventually, the captives cut their chains, escaping. The saga also describes a warrior, Bolli, using his shield to defend himself from the attack of Lambi.

viking shield disadvantages

While the Viking shield was effective against attacks, it also had disadvantages. The heavy shield was difficult to move, and its weight hindered maneuverability. Modern players of sword and shield games tend to hide behind their shields. The Vikings, however, used their shields in active ways, avoiding enemy swings and redirecting forces. This means that the shield could break during battle. Still, the advantage of the shield outweighs its disadvantages.

The disadvantage of a shield, however, was that it did not protect the hands and the head from attacks. In its neutral stance, it protected the arms, the neck, and the knees, but left the head and lower legs unprotected. In battle, the shield was likely targeted at the head. The shield was also flexible, allowing the defender to quickly shift position to block blows from all angles. Unfortunately, studies of skeletal remains show that the majority of battle wounds came to the head or legs.