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A mystery: What makes the Viking Shields So Interesting?

3 minutes read


Welcome to the fascinating world of Viking shields, where art and warfare merge seamlessly. These iconic symbols of Norse culture not only protected the fearless Viking warriors in battle but also showcased their craftsmanship and artistic prowess.

The Design of Viking Shields

The Viking shield is an iconic symbol of Norse culture and warfare. With its distinct round shape and intricate designs, it's no wonder that Viking shields have captured the imagination of historians, artists, and enthusiasts alike.

Vikings were known for their superior shipbuilding skills, but their shield-manufacturing techniques were equally impressive. The shields were produced on a massive scale and were an essential part of Viking warfare.

Let's take a closer look at the design of Viking shields:

Round Shape

One of the most recognizable features of Viking shields is their circular shape. This design was chosen for practical reasons - it allowed the shield to cover more of the warrior's body, protecting them from head to toe. The circular shape also made it easier to maneuver in battle, as the warrior could quickly pivot the shield to block incoming attacks from any direction. 

It's likely that shields were painted and decorated. Some of the surviving fragments suggest that they were.

Size Variations

Another interesting aspect of Viking shields is the variety of sizes they came in. While the standard size was around 80 cm in diameter, some shields were around 70 cm, while others were as large as 1m in diameter. The size of the shield would often depend on the warrior's preference and fighting style. It is likely that the thickness (weight) varied depending on the warrior. It seems like most shields were 6-12mm thick. Thicker at the center and thinner on the edge to save weight. A thin, uncovered shield could weigh around 5kg

Materials Used

Viking shields were made from various materials, including wood, leather, and iron. The wooden core was made from planks, since it's uncommon to find shields where the wood is not gone, it can be difficult to get a clear picture of the specific wood used. Pine is common in Scandinavia and it grows straight and is relatively light and durable. But the woods used probably varied depending on location. The wood was carved and shaped to fit the desired size and shape. The shield could be covered in animal hide to make it more durable, and often reinforced with an iron or leather rim.

The Shield Boss

The shield boss was a distinctive feature of Viking shields. It was a raised, circular lump placed in the shield's center, forged out of iron. Its purpose was to protect the warrior's hand and provide a balance point for the shield. A typical boss is 150mm in diameter and 3-5mm thick. In archaeological excavations, it is usually the shield boss that is found in shields.

Closing statement

The design of Viking shields is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of Norse culture. From the round shape to the intricate patterns and designs, each shield was a work of art that also served a practical purpose. As we continue to study and appreciate Viking history, we can't help but wonder - what other secrets and treasures lie waiting to be discovered?


The Viking shield is a shining example of how function and beauty can coexist in harmony. These masterpieces of Norse craftsmanship served as both protective barriers in battle and canvases for artistic expression. One can only imagine what other hidden gems await discovery in the annals of Viking lore.

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