Post by legacyofthesword on Oct 18, 2019 5:52:55 GMT
This is the first of a series of five videos. I skipped around a bit due to being short on time, but it's quite an interesting watch. I think the most fascinating part is how thin and flimsy the shield looks: I've always thought of Viking shields as thick and tough, but it seems they were quite light - much more akin to, say, a Zulu hide shield than a Medieval European heater.
It always surprises me how minimal a lot of shields in history seem to be, yet we're still used frequently. Even native Americans apparently had hide shields and bone link chest armour that could stop arrows.
Not sure if that says something about their armour and Shields or their bow and arrows though 🤔
With something like a viking shield, you can get away with light because how it's held allows it to... Rotate? The shields non static position helps it absorb force, and redirect it. Plus many theorize that the edge was used to block more than the flat
I think a light shield is ideal for a more individualistic dismounted fighter/skirmisher for deflecting blows and a heavy shield better for line infantry in formation.
The question is then "But didn't Vikings and Zulu with light shields fight together in line formations?", and I think yes, they did, but they also were raiders who relied on quick marches and individual movement for hit and run attacks, and they put a high value on single combat ability. I doubt their shields were really optimal for shield walls, just adequate.
Post by legacyofthesword on Oct 19, 2019 21:15:15 GMT
I did some research on the Roman scutum. An artifact from Dura Europos was 5-6 mm thick, according to Wikipedia (though I imagine that it would have tapered towards the edges, so perhaps the center was thicker). 5-6 mm for the edges is close to the Viking era shields. I also found a quote from Suetonius, describing a shield being punctured by arrows:
"Scaeva, with one eye gone, his thigh and shoulder wounded, and his shield bored through [with arrows] in a hundred and twenty places, continued to guard the gate of a fortress put in his charge."
The Persians of the Achaemenid Empire used wicker shields (I believe reinforced with rawhide), and there were/are a very large number of wicker shields used in Africa. Here's some wicker shields from the steppe cultures:
Again, not certain if that's the center thickness or if the shield was a uniform 15 mm overall. At any rate, that's a bit thicker than a Roman or Viking shield, but it's also smaller, so the weight should have been similar. It's also made of poplar wood, which is fairly soft.
I'm definitely thinking that shields got their strength from the layers of canvas or leather than was glued over the wood, rather than from the wood itself.
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