Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > when and how did round shields become ubiquitous? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,484

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2020 10:24 pm    Post subject: when and how did round shields become ubiquitous?         Reply with quote

heres a question and a half, when did the large round shield, centre gripped, become a commonplace piece of equipment in the way it would be in the viking age
(im aware of the roman parma and some lusitanian shields but by and large everyone seemed to use long centre gruipped shields when not using the aspis for most of antiquity

we have the theuros, the barbarian oval shield, the scutum etc, the parthians used large rectangular wicker shields, list goes on

at some point however, the round shield came to dominate the landscape of warfare in europe, do we know when and how this occured?
my guess is that it's an import from the germanic migrations
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Matthew Amt




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

Posts: 1,405

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2020 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, in some areas, round shields were the rule in the Bronze Age. Though some places (Sumeria, Crete, Greece) have tall rectangular or oblong/figure-8 shape. But even Greece had gone to mostly round shields by the end of the Bronze Age. Then you get Assyrians, too.

BUT if you're mainly looking post-Roman, it would be much earlier than the Viking era. Romans are using center-gripped round shields by the 4th century AD, though they use them with the grip horizontal rather than vertical, which makes a difference in several ways. (Obviously you can rotate it, but...) Some of the incoming tribes in the Migration era had taller shields (hexagonal, coffin-shaped, etc.), but it looks to me like most of northern/western Europe (and beyond) has gone to round shields by what, 6th century? Maybe 7th? It's not my strongest era!

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,484

PostPosted: Sat 23 May, 2020 1:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Well, in some areas, round shields were the rule in the Bronze Age. Though some places (Sumeria, Crete, Greece) have tall rectangular or oblong/figure-8 shape. But even Greece had gone to mostly round shields by the end of the Bronze Age. Then you get Assyrians, too.

BUT if you're mainly looking post-Roman, it would be much earlier than the Viking era. Romans are using center-gripped round shields by the 4th century AD, though they use them with the grip horizontal rather than vertical, which makes a difference in several ways. (Obviously you can rotate it, but...) Some of the incoming tribes in the Migration era had taller shields (hexagonal, coffin-shaped, etc.), but it looks to me like most of northern/western Europe (and beyond) has gone to round shields by what, 6th century? Maybe 7th? It's not my strongest era!

Matthew

bronze age yes, but for the classicalera, the theros/ oblong shield and the aspis dominated the landscape of warfare, everyone has one or the other by and large,
once rome subdued carthage and the diadochi, the use of porpax gripped shields like the aspis and pelta i imagine would have died out completely
while centre gripped round shields did get used it was a minority situation, they seem to be smaller and relegated to use by skirmishers like the velites, some iberian light infantry, and a lot m of the barbarian examples are small, almost buckler sized
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,518

PostPosted: Sat 23 May, 2020 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The most common shield right through the Dark Ages and the majority of the Middle Ages seems to have been a center-gripped round shield.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 417

PostPosted: Sat 23 May, 2020 3:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear William,

Connolly suggests, but doesn't state outright, that after the replacement of the semi-cylindrical scutum by the oval shield formerly reserved for auxiliary use in the middle of the third century C.E., Roman shields gradually got less oval and more round. The implication is that round shields--dished rather than flat, but center-gripped--were widely distributed in Roman-influenced areas by the third quarter of the fifth century. Vegetius (late fourth century) provides a waypoint (to which Matthew refers above) when he mentions that each Roman soldier carried five plumbata in the hollow of his shield.

It's true that there's size variation among barbarian round shields, but the ideal is clearly large ones of around 90 cm diameter. That's what the high-status shields from which metal rims survive tend to measure.

As to how (by which I assume you mean why; if you really mean how, then you're looking for diachronic mapping of their spread and you'll have to consult the archaeological reports that cover the topic) it occurred? Fashion. I wouldn't look for a technical or technological reason (modern people tend to overemphasize such reasons for material change), unless you want to argue that the change from flat boards to dished boards and from horizontal grips to vertical grips drove the change to round from oval shields. But I'm not sure that that level of detail is recoverable.

I hope this proves helpful.

Best,

Mark Millman
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > when and how did round shields become ubiquitous?
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2020 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum