The Norse Shield

$850.00

The Viking shield is one of the most iconic pieces from Norse history. At first glance the Viking shield may not seem to be that much different than other shields from history, however that couldn’t be farther from the truth. These shields designed by the Norse were not crude objects with poor construction thrown together with no forethought. In fact, they were brilliantly constructed with a superior design.
One might think a shield should be built by the hardest, sturdiest wood available perhaps Hickory or Oak- one would be wrong. They actually didn’t use a hardwood at all. The Vikings choice of wood was Linden wood which translates to “Shield Wood” or Basswood as we know it. Although a softwood and considered flimsy, basswood has two characteristics that make it perfect for use in a shield. Its extremely light and its incredibly hard to spilt. You want both if you are carrying a shield on the battlefield. A light shield allows you to move on the field of battle and easily bring the shield into play either on offense or defense. There are obvious advantages of a shield that won’t shatter upon being impacted, however the Norse shield did one better. When there was a successful split of the Norse shield by a weapon, the fibers of the wood tended to bind around blade which prevented them from cutting any deeper. Often times the offender could not remove their weapon from the iron grip of the wood, allowing their opponent a good opportunity to land the killing blow.
According to our research there are only a handful of Viking shields in existence today that still have paint on them. Most historical documents describe the shields as being painted with “ bright colors” and depictions from the runestones show them in a pinwheel design. As beautiful as the shields were painted, beauty was not their goal. The shields were actually painted bright colors to intentionally masked the direction of the wood grain-thus not giving their opponents the advantage of landing a shield splitting blow with the grain. The center of the shield sported an iron cone referred to as the “ boss”, this was hollow and the reverse side was a handle which in turn created an Iron fist to bash their opponents.
Make no mistake about it-The Norse shield was a brilliant concept ahead of its time. In an effort to create a functional work of art we have painstakingly, and historically built a Viking shield just like they would have a thousand years ago. Below describes some of the steps in creating this masterpiece. We hope you enjoy.

Original Viking shields were approximately 30 inches around and very thin-usually less than ½ inch. Ours measures approximately 29 x 29. We went into the forest on a snowy day in Michigan and felled a basswood tree and drug it home! The next step was to carefully and painstaking split the wood into planks to get our desired profile. Once the planks were rough shaped, they were allowed to dry and then glued together with a glue made of milk and slacked lime. They are then final shaped and shaved down to the final thickness. At this point it is time to cut the hole in the center for the hand grip and to edge the shield with a rim to further protect the wood from splitting. We then decided on the shield color scheme. We decided to go with the paint design as seen on Lagertha’s Shield in the Hit TV show Vikings. This was one of the most intriguing steps for us as we did a lot of research to determine the correct color being portrayed in the show was know as Green Bice. The pigment is formed from the mixing of Blue Vitriol and baking soda (copper sulfate and Sodium bicarbonate) The shield was hand painted, allowed to dry and ready for combat!

  • Hand Made
  • Basswood
  • Hand painted
  • approximately 29 x 29
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Description

The Viking shield is one of the most iconic pieces from Norse history. At first glance the Viking shield may not seem to be that much different than other shields from history, however that couldn’t be farther from the truth. These shields designed by the Norse were not crude objects with poor construction thrown together with no forethought. In fact, they were brilliantly constructed with a superior design.

The Norse shield was a brilliant concept ahead of its time. In an effort to create a functional work of art we have painstakingly, and historically built a Viking shield just like they would have a thousand years ago.

Original Viking shields were approximately 30 inches around and very thin-usually less than ½ inch. Ours measures approximately 29 x 29

Additional information

Weight 100 oz
Dimensions 24 × 24 × 5 in

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