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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Apr, 2013 3:29 am    Post subject: Internal diameter of shield bosses?         Reply with quote

On another thread Jeffrey Hildebrandt, of royal oak armoury, posted an image of a boss which he made. Not wishing to distract people from Jeffrey's work with questions, I thought that it would be best to start a new thread. Anyways, on the other thread, Jeffrey mentioned that viking age shield bosses, found in Ireland, ranged in internal diameter from 3 to 3.6 inches. Now I wouldn't say that I have particularly large hands, but I couldn't fit my hand into a boss of this size. Is there something I'm missing here, what do the rest of you guys think?

Jason
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Apr, 2013 3:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that there's the shield's thickness between your hand and the boss. Your hand isn't supposed to fit inside the boss, in the first place.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Apr, 2013 4:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply Mikko. After re-reading my question I realise I made a mistake. I shouldn't have said that my hand wouldn't fit into a boss of this size, as of course only the tips of your knuckles actually go inside the boss. But, as far as I know the minimum internal diameter of a boss is determined by the length of the handgrip, which for me would be around 4.5 inches.

Jason
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Apr, 2013 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We certainly do have a few original swords, shield bosses etc that were obviously made for really big guys, so there is a good historical precedent for making grips much larger than the norm. For people with average-sized hands, 8-9 cm is more than enough room, so it is not surprising that both sword grips and bosses are usually within or close to this size range. 3" is about 7.5cm, so that is indeed pretty small. The boss diameter (minus flange) can be a good bit smaller than the full length of the handgrip, with the hole in the board tapering towards the front. Also, the holes in shield boards are sometimes rectangular rather than circular. So depending on board thickness and details of construction there can be a good bit of wriggle room. I do reenactment combat in which we are required to wear fairly bulky padded leather gloves. My experience has been that a 10cm diameter boss is plenty large enough to accomodate even the biggest guys with the bulkiest gloves, and that the limiting factor is usually the shape of the hole in the board rather than the boss itself. I think I could just barely make a 7.5cm boss work for myself without gloves, but about 8.5-9 cm is ideal for me. Just my two cents, for what it's worth.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Apr, 2013 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason O C wrote:
Thanks for the reply Mikko. After re-reading my question I realise I made a mistake. I shouldn't have said that my hand wouldn't fit into a boss of this size, as of course only the tips of your knuckles actually go inside the boss. But, as far as I know the minimum internal diameter of a boss is determined by the length of the handgrip, which for me would be around 4.5 inches.

Jason

Like Scott says, AFAIK the hand holes usually tapered towards the boss, ie. they were wider on your side of the shield (where they had to accommodate your hand) than on the face (where they only had to allow room for your knuckles). Why were they done this way? Personally I think it was because it makes for a marginally sturdier construction and, likely more importantly, provides better protection for the hand.

PS. You've got pretty huge hands. Happy

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Apr, 2013 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shield bosses in the Aegean are smaller than I would have expected. The Kaloriziki shield boss has a diameter of 6-7cm and the Kallithea one is 4-5cm.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Apr, 2013 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It says here http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/....html#Boss 15cm including flange. The bosses on Figure 3 look bigger than 3.5".
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Jeffrey Hildebrandt
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Apr, 2013 8:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
It says here http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/....html#Boss 15cm including flange. The bosses on Figure 3 look bigger than 3.5".


That article offers a good overview; I will have to hunt down some of the works it cites. It is a shame that "~15 cm diameter including flange" is the only measurement given for a half-dozen boss types, though.

The measurements I cited from Harrington were of conical Viking bosses in an Irish context in the 9th C - definitely not a generalization of shield bosses or even Viking bosses. The Irish Viking finds are characterized by their small size, and are assumed to have been influenced by the native Irish bosses, which are also small.

An interesting topic!

-Hildebrandt

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Viktor Abrahamson




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Apr, 2013 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are some pictures of shieldbosses including some measurement.
These are viking age shieldbosses found in Sweden.
Might be of some help.


This one from Vendel. (Not Vendel-time but the location)


Vendel


Grödinge, Södermanland


Sollerön, Dalarna

/Viktor
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Apr, 2013 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, some of those Swedish bosses are quite large. Thank you very much Viktor, that is certainly very helpful to me.

Jeffrey, it is very interesting to me that Irish bosses tend to be at the smaller end of the range. I wonder if this was due to differences in the construction of the shields? I suppose unless we find some more and better-preserved whole shields, we may never know. I have heard references to shields from Ireland and the Isle of Man in the Viking age being different from continental and Scandinavian shields, but have been unable to dig up any information on exactly what those differences might be. A very interesting topic indeed!

Mikko, in addition to adding structural integrity, perhaps it was also because it is easier to chisel a hole in a board working at an angle rather than at 90 degrees? I'll see if I can find any pics that show a good close-up of boss-holes in preserved shield-boards.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Apr, 2013 4:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
Mikko, in addition to adding structural integrity, perhaps it was also because it is easier to chisel a hole in a board working at an angle rather than at 90 degrees? I'll see if I can find any pics that show a good close-up of boss-holes in preserved shield-boards.

Based on my one experience trying to make such a shield, I would have to agree. Happy

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Jeffrey Hildebrandt
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Apr, 2013 5:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the scaled images of Swedish finds, Viktor; all I can seem to find is data for British finds, so they provide a useful Scandinavian parallel.

I have found that Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, edited by Haakon Shetelig, 1940, sheds some light on our question of boss dimensions. I have uploaded all three volumes to 4shared, for anyone who would like to read them:

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3

-Hildebrandt

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