This week’s focus will be on one of the most common battle implements of ancient warfare, the shield. Obviously, if your characters are fighting with swords and spears, there will be a shield needed to protect your characters. Add to this fact is the shield was also the definitive symbol of the warrior caste in many cultures throughout the ages.
In my Clovel Sword Chronicles fantasy series, I returned to Northern European history to create the type of shield needed for the Esterblud tribe. My primary character carries a typical shield of the Anglo-Saxon/Viking age which is circular in shape. This weapon becomes the Shield of Skool, which is central to the main characters mission in the stories. It also allowed my story to have a slight difference in so many other fantasy tales which focus their plots around the sword, often as the central element of a quest. That said, I still have the Clovel Sword as an important part of the triad needed within the storyline.
History shows the construction materials of a shield to be made up of primarily of wood and leather. Since I want my characters to be as real as possible, I knew that a wood shield would become too heavy, the thicker it became. If too thin, it could not stop projectiles like spears, arrows and javelins. So, I used a medium thickness which most warriors would be able to carry. It would be able to stop most blows from swords yet still could fall apart from the abuse it might take on the battlefield. Additionally, during the fighting, the wood might be penetrated by a projectile, forcing the warrior to fight at a disadvantage. Imagine trying to hold a shield upright with a heavy spear stuck in it while fending off your enemy coming at you with the sword in the other hand. As you can see, using this tool allows a range of possibilities when you are describing the fighting between characters.
There is a debate on whether the rims were reinforced or decorative. For the Shield of Skool, I decided to have the edge reinforced with iron along with another banding in the shield. I did this for a particular reason. The shield is usually considered a defensive weapon, however, I’ve seen re-enactors use the instrument as a very useful offensive tool in close quarters. By using stronger materials on the edge, I could use the shield as a nasty weapon when used against an opponent’s neck area.
In the front of a shield is a small area of metal covering called the boss. Utilized for the protection of the wearer’s fingers, I used the boss to become the focal point for the Skool where the mysterious metal of the god’s forms itself to create a dangerous weapon, capable of destroying whole armies. Such a small part of a weapon becomes a fantastic element within my story while maintaining a historic truth.
For more additional information on the shield, I have the following links: