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Baard H




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marinakis: Thanks.

Amt: It is true that we cannot get entirely into the heads of the people of the past and that we (in the subject in question) lack any manual on how the weapons were used, but some things we can luckily learn from physics alone.

As for catching a blade/axe/spear in your shield. This is a theory (too) often presented as a viable strategy I think, if nothing else; if you have a weapon that protrudes x number of cm and weighs x amount of pounds (depending on what type of weapon you catch) you are suddenly without a usable shield, in the middle of a line, with people standing behind you preventing you from getting out of the line, with four or more opponents who hasn't lost their weapon in your shield ready to strike you...
So I'd do an educated guess: the shields were not meant to be used to disarm anyone who touched it a bit hard.

You doesn't neccesseraly need too much force to open up an un-overlapping center gripped shield either, especially if you hit as far out as possible (the principles of leverage), and if your spear tip should catch slightly onto the shield for a moment, it wouldn't matter much, you have opened him up, someone else can use the opening to finish him off. Line-fighting is never a solo-game, if you cannot cooperate with the guys to your sides, you won't win.

By the way: here's an excellent theoretical approach to center gripped round shield duelling, based on what is known of the equipment and how it corresponds to physics.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkhpqAGdZPc

PS: I think you underestimate our ability to make workable copies/replicas from what weaponry we have found (which is quite extensive), true there is a lot of "sub-par" recreations out there made cheaply for people who think they know what they want, but there is a good deal of proper equipment too.

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




Location: London, UK
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding specifically sizes, I seem to recall there are Anglo-Saxon roundshields in the 50-60cm range. I'll try to dig up a reference or two if I can find the right bits of my notes.

Anyway, that would be worth bearing in mind before declaring Viking-Age re-enactors with small shields to be inaccurate.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Baard H wrote:
You doesn't neccesseraly need too much force to open up an un-overlapping center gripped shield either, especially if you hit as far out as possible (the principles of leverage), and if your spear tip should catch slightly onto the shield for a moment, it wouldn't matter much, you have opened him up, someone else can use the opening to finish him off.


Isn't this kind of a moot point. I thought we already established that men using central gripped round shields, would overlap when fighting in a shieldwall.

Baard H wrote:
By the way: here's an excellent theoretical approach to center gripped round shield duelling, based on what is known of the equipment and how it corresponds to physics.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkhpqAGdZPc


I agree Rolland Warzecha gave a very nice presentation. That's why I linked it earlier in this thread Wink

Éirinn go Brách
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
Regarding specifically sizes, I seem to recall there are Anglo-Saxon roundshields in the 50-60cm range. I'll try to dig up a reference or two if I can find the right bits of my notes.

Anyway, that would be worth bearing in mind before declaring Viking-Age re-enactors with small shields to be inaccurate.


Well from what I gathered talking online to Matthew Bunker (who knows his stuff when it comes to Anglo Saxons), these smaller shields come from the early Anglo Saxon period. So they still are not appropriate for the viking age.

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Baard H




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thought we establish that too Cutrin, but due to a comment I felt the need to solidify it.
A point though; even if the overlapping shield wall would be preferable, it wasn't alway achievable. At the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, King Olav the Holy supposedly had to set his men in a thin line of two ranks with gaps between the shields in order to be able to control his position and not be outmatched by the opposing army length-wise.

I haven't studied much into the pre-"viking-age" so I can't say anything about any shield-sizes back then, if they turn out to be from the "viking age", that would be interesting (and kind of annoying actually, although there might be differences between shield sizes used in Scandinavia and Europe of course).

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




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah I see. Ok Baard.

I just checked and apparently the small round shields seem to date to late 5th / early 6th century.

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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 5:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

People way over-hype the idea that round shields are better for dueling than mass battles. Large round center-gripped shields have a feature that's especially good for massed combat, they're great against missiles. It's no coincidence that umbrellas are also round and the center grip allows the shield to be held as far away from the body as possible which increases the cone of protection while at the same time allowing that metal boss to be as small as possible because it's only got to cover the fist and not the whole arm. Laminate construction allows the shield to be wide for its weight and conserve strategic metals but the hand is protected by a durable iron boss, quite brilliant actually. You'll never even get to the spear/sword/axe fight unless you survive the barrage of javelins, arrows and rocks first. Honestly in a time before widespread use of armor that was probably their primary reason for existence. I think it's significant that the comparatively better equipped Byzantines and Normans were among the early adopters of kites.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Further against missiles: a centre gripped shield is better against shield-piercing javelins (and arrows). Anything that goes through the shield has to penetrate much deeper before it reaches the person holding the shield.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Further against missiles: a centre gripped shield is better against shield-piercing javelins (and arrows). Anything that goes through the shield has to penetrate much deeper before it reaches the person holding the shield.

Depends on how close the person is holding the shield, yes a person can hold a shield farther way from them than strapped shield, but a strapped shield can be made thicker than center grip and not be as tiring because the load is carried across the entire arm, and is some cases, on the shoulder and neck, as opposed to center grip shield, whose weight bears on the arm, thus it one take more force to penetrate that thick strap shield than said center grip. What could penetrate and either get lodged or harm the center grip could not penetrate or superfically get stuck in a kite. Also, in cases of the arrow or javelin getting stuck in both, a person would be more hindered by something lodeged in a center grip than strap because you carry wieght with more places than a strap where as with centergrip, you now have extra wieght all bearing down on your wrist.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's even more complicated than that. Because the centre gripped shield will move more in the hand when something like a javelin hits it, more of the energy will go into moving the shield than penetrating it. (The slower the projectile, the more difference this will make. So it will matter more for spears and javelins than arrows.)

But consider long-shanked javelins, as a specific case of designed-for-shield-piercing javelins. We can be looking at a lot of energy (perhaps well over 200J). It takes a thick shield to stop that. But if the shield-to-body distance is more than the length of the shank, it isn't so dangerous.

(Once it has things stuck through it, a center-gripped shield is easier to drop.)

(I find a 3kg centre-gripped shield to be comparable to a 5kg forearm-strapped shield.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
People way over-hype the idea that round shields are better for dueling than mass battles. Large round center-gripped shields have a feature that's especially good for massed combat, they're great against missiles. It's no coincidence that umbrellas are also round and the center grip allows the shield to be held as far away from the body as possible which increases the cone of protection while at the same time allowing that metal boss to be as small as possible because it's only got to cover the fist and not the whole arm. Laminate construction allows the shield to be wide for its weight and conserve strategic metals but the hand is protected by a durable iron boss, quite brilliant actually. You'll never even get to the spear/sword/axe fight unless you survive the barrage of javelins, arrows and rocks first. Honestly in a time before widespread use of armor that was probably their primary reason for existence. I think it's significant that the comparatively better equipped Byzantines and Normans were among the early adopters of kites.

Expect most finds found are made out of laminated wood, they are made of wood planks glued together then either unfaced un rimmed, faced and not rimmed or rimmed and not faced. Also, umbrellas aren't typically flat and most shield, expecial round center grips, were and rain rarely fires straight at where an archer can shoot straight at you and volley you. On battlefield, a shiled in not comparable to a umbrella, if you wanted to take about really good battle field center grip shield design, it is better to examine the roman scutum. The bend allow for coverage over front and back, the way the handle is designed and the length allow you to brace is with the your knee so withstand more bashing around even when your shield isn't overlapping the bend allows you to run in formation and withstand arrow fire because the back ranks can brace the bend of the shield againist his fellows, the front ranks can looks through the natural hole and stab in than opening or in the tiny space of the fellows and the whole unit can steadily advance under arrow fire, then quickly resume typical formation within ranks and go. The great dome formation essential make you unit static and advancing with your shield ready to recieve a volley opens you up for javelin rock, handaxe, arrow attack to the torso and advancing in regular way in formation, with shield face presenting your opponent, obviously leaves you open to a volley. Umbrellas are typically hemispherical, most center grip rounds are flat circles.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
It's even more complicated than that. Because the centre gripped shield will move more in the hand when something like a javelin hits it, more of the energy will go into moving the shield than penetrating it. (The slower the projectile, the more difference this will make. So it will matter more for spears and javelins than arrows.)

But consider long-shanked javelins, as a specific case of designed-for-shield-piercing javelins. We can be looking at a lot of energy (perhaps well over 200J). It takes a thick shield to stop that. But if the shield-to-body distance is more than the length of the shank, it isn't so dangerous.

(Once it has things stuck through it, a center-gripped shield is easier to drop.)

(I find a 3kg centre-gripped shield to be comparable to a 5kg forearm-strapped shield.)

(Once it has things stuck through it, a center-gripped shield is easier to drop.)
is that a negate or positive?, because I would rather fight a with a rather awkward thing hanging off my shield than drastically increase my odds or getting speared, axed, cut, etc, in more places than not.
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Dennis Courneyea





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 9:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
Regarding specifically sizes, I seem to recall there are Anglo-Saxon roundshields in the 50-60cm range. I'll try to dig up a reference or two if I can find the right bits of my notes.

Anyway, that would be worth bearing in mind before declaring Viking-Age re-enactors with small shields to be inaccurate.


I don't recall the souces, but I've read of small round shields found in Anglo-Saxon graves. It isn't known whether or not these smaller shields were actually used in battle - it has also been speculated that they were made specifically as grave goods, made smaller to reduce the cost and/or to more easily fit in a standard sized grave.
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Dennis Courneyea





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 9:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Expect most finds found are made out of laminated wood, they are made of wood planks glued together then either unfaced un rimmed, faced and not rimmed or rimmed and not faced.[...]


And many Viking shields made from Pine have been found - despite Pine being ill suited for a shield.

Most finds are grave goods and may not be identical to the shields actually used in combat. They could be less expensive, symbolic, versions of the actual items. There are few if any records of the pre-Christian (pagan) Viking and Anglo Saxon cultures, so the traditions surrounding grave goods are not well understood, thus great care should be taken when drawing conclusions based on grave goods.
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Dennis Courneyea





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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 9:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:

(Once it has things stuck through it, a center-gripped shield is easier to drop.)


Additionally an opponent can grasp a strapped on shield and use it as a lever to twist and/or break the wearer's arm. In contrast if an opponent tries this on a centre grip shield, the wearer can easily release the shield, either dropping it or quickly grabbing the grip again with a different hand position.
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Mike Ruhala




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 10:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I meant to say "composite" instead of "laminate" but there are laminated layers of cloth, leather or parchment on most shields that use a wooden core. One of the neat things I learned from my "Viking" shield project earlier this year is that the wooden boards act as a frame for the other shield components as much as anything. I thought the thin pine boards weren't going to offer much protection at all and they don't, I can break them with my bare hands, unless they're assembled into a shield and then they're remarkably strong. Greater than the sum of its parts, I guess. The scientific explanation I've heard is that the facing and backing help to dissipate energy across the entire shield kind of like how a Kevlar vest works. Even just a single layer(front and back) of relatively light linen like you'd make clothes from will radically increase the strength of the shield.

Artwork and textual evidence suggests that some round shields were curved or even domed and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the flat rounds we have today were originally curved/domed but were squashed flat after centuries of burial. Small round shields probably always existed but they're more useful in hand to hand combat than they are against missile weapons, you do see them come to prominence and stick around for centuries just after the end of the "Viking" age.

Anyway none of this should be construed as kite shield hate... I love kite shields and the big triangles that replaced them! Heaters too, and I wish I had more historically accurate construction details so I could make a decent pavise. Interestingly enough artwork shows the Spanish had enarmes on round shields from an early date and center gripped kites are also represented.
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Alexis Bataille




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Nov, 2014 3:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

one more point : with kite shield neck-straped you can hold a pike in 2 hands like macedonian infantry
http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/Costume/Otto/...hargeS.JPG

something you can't do with a large round shield and perhaps was efficient against cavalry ?
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Nov, 2014 6:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ack, I wasn't able to keep up with this thread!

Baard H wrote:
As for catching a blade/axe/spear in your shield. This is a theory (too) often presented as a viable strategy I think...


I'll agree with that. I was mostly putting it forward as something that a warrior would have to consider. I haven't had time to watch that whole video, but I did notice that the spears had blunt tips--that changes the physics and removes any chance of sticking in the shield. It *might* not be significant, but *I don't know*!

Quote:
...if you have a weapon that protrudes x number of cm and weighs x amount of pounds (depending on what type of weapon you catch) you are suddenly without a usable shield, in the middle of a line, with people standing behind you preventing you from getting out of the line, with four or more opponents who hasn't lost their weapon in your shield ready to strike you...
So I'd do an educated guess: the shields were not meant to be used to disarm anyone who touched it a bit hard.

You doesn't neccesseraly need too much force to open up an un-overlapping center gripped shield either, especially if you hit as far out as possible (the principles of leverage), and if your spear tip should catch slightly onto the shield for a moment, it wouldn't matter much, you have opened him up, someone else can use the opening to finish him off. Line-fighting is never a solo-game, if you cannot cooperate with the guys to your sides, you won't win.


Okay, BUT it all works both ways! *Both* sides have friends to help them, and anyone using a particular shield will be aware of what can happen when it is struck. Some men will be better fighters, of course, but isn't it possible that many simply did not let anyone hit their shield in that way? I mean, that would be a "Day One" lesson for any militia muster: "Don't do X because you'll die." And even in a pretty close formation, with 3-foot shields overlapping, it's not necessarily *that* hard to slide back between your buddies behind you. If you're quick enough, of course!

Quote:
PS: I think you underestimate our ability to make workable copies/replicas from what weaponry we have found (which is quite extensive), true there is a lot of "sub-par" recreations out there made cheaply for people who think they know what they want, but there is a good deal of proper equipment too.


Sure, we have more and more replicas these days which are quite accurate, and I trust them to be "close enough" for things like weapon tests. BUT we also still have a few basic unknowns. Obviously there are well-made repro swords which are very faithful to the originals, but how many spearheads are made with the same attention to minute measurement and detail? I'm betting most Indian-made ones are not. As I understand it, there is still debate about shield construction, including the types of wood, subtleties of thickness (though we're probably in the ballpark on that one), whether they were faced with rawhide, some kind of leather, fabric, etc. Those all could make a difference.


Philip Dyer wrote:
...but a strapped shield can be made thicker than center grip...


But WERE they actually thicker? Just using your quote as an example, Philip! I had understood that those little "heater" shields from the 14th and 15th centuries were really no thicker than Viking-era round shields. So do we actually have evidence that kite shields were thicker? It makes a huge difference in our assumptions in a discussion like this, or in a test. What do we KNOW, and what are we guessing at?

Dennis Courneyea wrote:
I don't recall the souces, but I've read of small round shields found in Anglo-Saxon graves. It isn't known whether or not these smaller shields were actually used in battle - it has also been speculated that they were made specifically as grave goods, made smaller to reduce the cost and/or to more easily fit in a standard sized grave.


Don't those smaller shields correspond to smaller shields shown in artwork as well? I also wonder why a grave would have real weapons and other items (pottery, jewelry, presumably clothing?) but a fake shield. Are we dealing with yet another sweeping assumption made a hudred years ago that is still echoing through later generations of scholarship? We may also be worrying more about costs than the folks living back then did...

Quote:
Additionally an opponent can grasp a strapped on shield and use it as a lever to twist and/or break the wearer's arm.


Again, "easily"? Is he going to drop his own shield or his weapon to do that? Just sayin'...

Finally, from what I've seen, Scandinavian round shields were typically flat, while Saxon and Germanic ones were dished. The artwork and archeology are VERY consistent about that.

Sorry, I think I'm dragging this into research theory...

Matthew
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Nov, 2014 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Dennis Courneyea wrote:
I don't recall the souces, but I've read of small round shields found in Anglo-Saxon graves. It isn't known whether or not these smaller shields were actually used in battle - it has also been speculated that they were made specifically as grave goods, made smaller to reduce the cost and/or to more easily fit in a standard sized grave.


Don't those smaller shields correspond to smaller shields shown in artwork as well? I also wonder why a grave would have real weapons and other items (pottery, jewelry, presumably clothing?) but a fake shield. Are we dealing with yet another sweeping assumption made a hudred years ago that is still echoing through later generations of scholarship? We may also be worrying more about costs than the folks living back then did...


My thoughts exactly Matthew. Part of becoming a man back then was receiving a spear and a shield. So it makes sense for these things to be buried with the man when he died. Why then would real swords, axes, and spears be buried, but not real shields. Also the cost agreement doesn't make sense to me. Wouldn't the iron boss be the most expensive part? Why go to the bother of taking a boss from a perfectly functional shield, only to put it on a non-functional shield, just so it would fit in a grave which you could easily have made a bit wider.

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Kai Lawson





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PostPosted: Mon 10 Nov, 2014 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is the OP asking about kite shields vs. center gripped round shields, or just round shields in general, including bucklers, targes and rotellas? They are fairly different things, after all--at least, there are enough differences that some of the arguments made for or against a particular action may be negated, i.e. a rotella can do many (though not all) things that a kite shield could do, mechanics-wise.
"And they crossed swords."
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