The Viking Shield: The First Authentic Viking Age Shield
Archaeologist Rolf Warming (SoCA) standing beside Denmark’s only surviving shield board from the Viking Age, the Trelleborg Shield (Photo: Jacob Nyborg Andreassen).
Numerous attempts have been made to reconstruct Viking Age round shields, this possibly being one of the most characteristic pieces of equipment carried by warriors of that period. Such reconstructions vary in quality, ranging from inexpensive plywood shields to expensive planked shields that have been constructed through painstaking efforts and attention to detail. In spite of such efforts, however, several important questions regarding Viking Age shield constructions have gone unanswered (especially regarding the use of hide in shields)– until now. A rigorous scientific study involving microanalyses has recently been undertaken by the Society for Combat Archaeology, School of Conservation and Aarhus University (Rolf Warming, René Larsen, Dorte Sommer, Luise Brandt, Xenia Pauli Jensen), revealing some of the final details regarding shield constructions in the Viking Age (Warming et al., forthcoming). This paper will be published later this year in the peer-reviewed archaeological journal, Germania: Römisch-germanische Kommission des Deutschen Archäologischen Institut.
Based on the newest research results, the Trelleborg Viking Fortress is, together with Society for Combat Archaeology, now launching the experimental archaeology project TheViking Shield: The First Authentic Viking Age Shield. The aim of the project is to produce the first fully authentic Viking Age round shield where all elements of the shield construction can be referenced to specific sources. The shield construction is also to be submitted to a series of tests involving authentic offensive weaponry, such as arrows, spears, swords and axes. The project is led by archaeologist Rolf Fabricius Warming (Society for Combat Archaeology), the lead author of the new research study.
Warming, R., Larsen, R. Sommer, D., Ørsted Brandt, L. & Pauli Jensen, X. Forthcoming. Shields and Hide: On the use of Hide in Germanic Shields of the Iron Age and Viking Age. Germania: Römisch-germanische Kommission des Deutschen Archäologischen Institut.