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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
Joined: 31 Aug 2014

Posts: 95

PostPosted: Wed 04 Mar, 2015 1:25 pm    Post subject: Rectangular shield vs round shield         Reply with quote

What is the pro and co about Celtic rectangular shield and Viking shield ?
My though is rectangular provide better cover against missile and Viking round shield give a better close combat fencing in loose formation / duel capability.
Thank you for reading !
Cheers !
Alexis
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
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PostPosted: Wed 04 Mar, 2015 4:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What Celtic rectangular shields have you found? There are some early oblong shields from well before the Viking era. There are very few Pictish square shields found in art sources, but no archaeological finds.
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
Joined: 31 Aug 2014

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PostPosted: Wed 04 Mar, 2015 10:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, sorry not rectangular shield, oblong like this one
http://www.wulflund.com/img/goods/en/medium/c...igny_2.jpg
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Wed 04 Mar, 2015 10:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm convinced that large round shields with metal bosses and center grips were primarily intended to protector the wielder from arrows, secondarily they were useful in hand-to-hand combat. The round shape is the same as an umbrella, not too many rectangular umbrellas! The metal boss provides excellent protection for the hand and when the shield is held at arm's length even an arrow that passes halfway through can't hit the body. Round shields don't protect the legs well, narrow and tall shields are better for that but they don't cast as large a shadow versus arrows coming in at a steep angle from long range.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
www.tcfencers.com
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 05 Mar, 2015 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can lean on a taller shield and rest. Or take a nap on it.

These 2 shield types require different stances and movements, because of the horizontal grip on the tall shield. I'm not convinced about Mike's theory that a round shield was *primarily* meant to stop arrows, though I agree that could be part of the equation.

Bottom line, we're back to "It worked for them!" Both styles were suited to their particular cultures and combat styles.

Matthew
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
Joined: 31 Aug 2014

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PostPosted: Thu 05 Mar, 2015 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i just read more sources about celtic shield and it appeared that in the begining of hallstatt celtic age shields were round.
During halstatt age shield began to be oblong shape.
There is probably an explanation by demography.
with the population explosion raiding tend more and more to small battles.
demography source : http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/cgi/viewconte...xt=humbiol
And in a close formation even chaotic like the celt if we compared to romans it was better to have a long shield to cover most of the body to prevent injuries in the "missile phase".
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Andrew Gill





Joined: 19 Feb 2015

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PostPosted: Fri 06 Mar, 2015 2:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A bit of completely unfounded speculation, related to the arrow question:

I imagine that the main missile weapons that the celts, romans and germanic tribes would have encountered would have been javelins/thrown spears and sling stones/bullets. I think both have relatively flat trajectories (please correct me if I'm wrong!). So, to a javelin or sling-stone, a standing man is a relatively narrow upright target, and can therefore be defended most efficiently by a similarly long, tall shield (assuming similar shield thicknesses and weights).
Interestingly, the Zulu armies of South Africa (and many of their neighbours) also made use of tall, elliptical shields (of cow hide) to counter the throwing-spears which were almost ubiquitously used in warfare in the region before the military reforms of Shaka (which, by the way, included training coordinated use of a short stabbing-spear and the shield to disable and despatch opponents - a tall shield is definitely not useless in close combat).

The viking sagas, however, seem to indicate that powerful warbows were relatively more popular in norse armies, and presumably also many of their enemies in western Europe. Now these can be used for high-tragectory indirect fire, and to a high-trajectory projectile approaching its target at an angle slightly closer to vertical, the effective shape of a man is much shorter, but the same width, i.e. closer to a square, or a circle.

As a counter-argument, I know that Roman armies did include some archers, but I think they were very much the minority of the troops. (again, please correct if necessary) Also, that they had those short lead-weighted darts that they were supposed to throw in a relatively high tragectory, but that was apparnetly a speciality of roman troops, not something that most iron-age european armies would have used, thus not something that they would have needed to defend against until they encountered it.

Another practical factor that might influence choice of shields is that, assuming that tall thin shields are narrower than viking-era round shields, but as tall or taller, men on foot in formation could probably stand closer together without having to overlap their shields (which might be slightly better for defence, but also required more discipline and practise to maneuver in formation - something the celts and germanic tribes apparently weren't noted for (although that may just be roman propaganda).

But, as I said, this is just relatively ill-informed speculation, so feel free to pull it apart!
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 06 Mar, 2015 4:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
I'm convinced that large round shields with metal bosses and center grips were primarily intended to protector the wielder from arrows, secondarily they were useful in hand-to-hand combat. The round shape is the same as an umbrella, not too many rectangular umbrellas! The metal boss provides excellent protection for the hand and when the shield is held at arm's length even an arrow that passes halfway through can't hit the body. Round shields don't protect the legs well, narrow and tall shields are better for that but they don't cast as large a shadow versus arrows coming in at a steep angle from long range.


im not too sure i understand this point of casting a shadow, since a celtic oval shield/ theuros/ scutum can be held in the centre avove the head at arms length also creating a bit of an umbrella... what sort of steep angles are we talking about?
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Andrew Gill





Joined: 19 Feb 2015

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PostPosted: Fri 06 Mar, 2015 5:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
im not too sure i understand this point of casting a shadow, since a celtic oval shield/ theuros/ scutum can be held in the centre avove the head at arms length also creating a bit of an umbrella... what sort of steep angles are we talking about?


A long, narrow shield is certainly not useless against a high-trajectory missile barrage. If the missiles are all following exactly the same path (or at least parallel paths), then as long as the shield is at least as wide as the person behind it, that person will be able to hold it at an angle which should keep them perfectly safe. But if the shield user is under attack from a long spaced out row of archers ahead of him (a slightly more probable, though still simplistic scenario), the projectiles traveling towards him will be converging on him from many different directions, and some will get past the sides of the narrow shield (if the shield is held horizontally to make it wider, projectiles fired along flatter or steeper trajectories will similarly prove a problem). A circular shield thus provides slightly better cover against projectiles coming in from different directions.

As for the angle at which arrows are launched, for optimal range, ignoring air resistance, the arrows should be loosed at 45 degrees, and will land at a similar angle. With air resistance, the decent angle will become steeper for a 45 degree launch.
I imagine (for no particularly good reason except for very cursory and unscientific experimentation) that javelins and sling-projectiles are launched on lower trajectories (due to the short range of the former and the higher drag of sling projectiles compared with arrows, as well as their smaller mass)
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Baard H




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Fri 06 Mar, 2015 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Javelins have a shorter range yes, but the basic tactics would probably be similar to the archers (high angle at long range and flatter the closer the enemy gets, take a look at modern sports javelin-throwing). It might be that the same can be said for slingshots as well, but I don't know how a steep angle affects their effect on impact.

If you held your shield at arms length, you'd still be vulnerable to arrows from the sides which as you say is a very high chance of happening. The only way to cover all angles so to speak would be to huddle together in a kind of "turtle" where the shields of the entire formation defends more than just one person, it's quite similar to Roman anti-missile tactics.

The book "Vikinger i Krig" ("Vikings at war" written by a Historian and an Archaeologist, both of whom has done reenactment and/or HEMA fighting) goes quite in depts on the different weapons and tactics used by the vikings, and never do they claim it to be made as a dedicated "anti-missile shield", if anything it would seem the center gripped round-shield is a superb duelling weapon that require certain tactics to function properly as a line-figthing weapon. The shield boss (which is used by both the vikings, vendel, Roman, celtic and more alike) is a necessity to have a center gripped shield, it did not however make the center impervious to any weapons.

Even considering the oblong shape of the celts made their shields somewhat thinner, I do not see that they wouldn't be able to use the same tactics against archers as the round-shield users with at least a functional success.


As for other uses than to defend against missiles, an oblong shield would give better protection to the legs in a line and you get a longer range in a duel, but I imagine (have to as I've never actually held a celtic shield...) that you might loose some maneuvrability due to the wheight not being distributed evenly 360 degrees around the center. I hope someone who has held one see this topic.



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At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mćki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81


Last edited by Baard H on Fri 06 Mar, 2015 3:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Baard H




Location: Norway
Joined: 13 Mar 2013

Posts: 98

PostPosted: Fri 06 Mar, 2015 3:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But wasn't the idea of the round-shield being a perfect anti-missile shield put down the last time we had this discussion?

http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=310...p;start=22

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mćki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81
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Andrew Gill





Joined: 19 Feb 2015

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar, 2015 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Baard H wrote:
But wasn't the idea of the round-shield being a perfect anti-missile shield put down the last time we had this discussion?

http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=310...p;start=22


Thanks for the link to the previous thread.

I certainly don't believe that the round-shield was designed or intended solely as an anti-missile defence, nor that an oval shield would be useless in this role - only that, all other things being equal (which they never are), the round-shield would be slightly better. I am also aware of the arguments that it was very effective in single combat, although I think that some of the claims I've heard elsewhere that it was primarily for this purpose and only clumsily adapted to battlefield use is probably also a bit extreme. I suspect that it was versatile - good against missiles or in single combat, and useful in a shield wall and that was the reason for its popularity.

What other factors could we consider that might influence shield choice? A few I can think of:
-Did glue technology change between the pre-Christian iron age and the viking age? Did the Celts or germanic tribes have casein glue to butt-join the planks of their shields together? A narrower, more rectangular shield needs fewer planks and is easier to reinforce across its width near the top and bottom.

-The point about long shields offering better leg protection is true of course; iirc that is why the round shield gave way to the kite shield; especially for mounted troops. The vikings and saxons mostly fought on foot, but didn't some groups of celts make great use of cavalry? A long shield is also probably more handy on horseback than a big, wide round one.
Is there any record of whether the gallic cavalry of Vercingetorix used shields, and what sort?
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
Joined: 31 Aug 2014

Posts: 95

PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2015 2:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, hello again.
Roman republic used viking style round shields and oblong shield in the same army.
Round shield was for skirmishers (velites) and oblong shield was for formation fights (hastati).
this is not a historical source but this is a good thread : http://forums.taleworlds.com/index.php/topic,247625.0.html
I think round one was good for mobility and nice umbrella against light artillery (ballistic projectiles).
And oblong shield have a better cover in formation.
that make sense ?
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2015 5:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know much about ancient battle but can say regards riot control the advantages of rectangular shields are threefold. They cover more, they lock together better, but probably most of all the sense of security keep soldiers calmer when things start incoming, which makes them easier to command. Its an amazingly vulnerable feeling and goes against every instinct to stay in formation when bottles and rocks start flying. You aren't allowed to dodge duck or run, and every spare inch of exposed skin tingles lol. So maybe this style of shield suited historical armies who favoured the most deliberate formations?
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't underestimate the effect of size. The Gallic oblong shield was flat and said to have been so narrow that it barely covered the width of the wielder's body (at least according to their Greek enemies) while the Roman scutum as we know it was curved and significantly broader. Not to mention the difference between the "Gallic" shield's vertical grip vs. the Roman shield's horizontal grip.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Don't underestimate the effect of size. The Gallic oblong shield was flat and said to have been so narrow that it barely covered the width of the wielder's body (at least according to their Greek enemies) while the Roman scutum as we know it was curved and significantly broader. Not to mention the difference between the "Gallic" shield's vertical grip vs. the Roman shield's horizontal grip.


The Gallic shield had a horizontal grip, though. At least all the surviving examples do, and that's what's shown in artwork. They also vary in size and shape, though I can see how a Greek might compare most any oblong shield to the big round aspis and think "narrow"!

Matthew
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting. So where did I get the impression that the Gallic shields had a vertical grip unlike the Roman ones?
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ha, don't know! Of course, I'm long past the point of remembering where *I* learned anything... There is the Doncaster shield, which is apparently flat and apparently has a vertical iron grip. But that's considered to be a Roman auxiliary shield, so not sure which way you want to count it! There are a couple other exceptions, plus some really stylized artwork (especially later) which shows things like Hellenistic armband and handle arrangements on "barbarian" shields.

Matthew
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