Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Why rawhide shield edge? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Levente M.




Usergroups: None

Location: Hungary
Posts: 35
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 5:24 am    Post subject: Why rawhide shield edge?         Reply with quote

So I was wondering, what are the advantages of rawhide vs. tanned leather on a shield edge?
I heard it's stronger and it's harder but is it really worth it? I mean it gets soft when wet, it's hard to repair and it doesn't stick to the shield as well as tanned leather when you cut it.

Has anyone tried both?
I'm mostly interested in viking shields.
Thanks!
View user's profile Send private message
Frank O'Gorman




Usergroups: 
Donating Members

Location: Dublin Ireland
Posts: 6
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 5:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi

by rawhide do you mean the hard stuff dog chews are made from? If so a Viking group I was a member of years ago stopped using it because though its hard it splintered and could cause injury while fighting (why does that sound weird??)I'll correct: it could cause unintended injuries...
We used to boil it till soft then shape it and then tack it on.
Anyway we swapped over to using softer leather to trim the shields. Used impact adhesive and tacks to put it on.

Frank
View user's profile Send private message
Levente M.




Usergroups: None

Location: Hungary
Posts: 35
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes I meant the dog chew leather.
Thank you for the answer! The splintering issue is exactly what I'm worried about. Softer leather stays on the shield's edge when struck, so it seems both safer and more protective.
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt




Usergroups: None

Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Posts: 1,172
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 7:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dog chews are not like the rawhide you can get from a leather supplier, since they are boiled. They have very different texture, appearance, and mechanical qualities. "Real" rawhide is much tougher and smoother, and vastly harder than typical tanned leather. Yes, it will soften when wet, but it has to be *soaked*, so a little bit of rain won't hurt it. Plus, it's very easy to protect it from rain with a quick coat of wax or grease. A good rawhide rim is more like metal than leather!

Mind you, I don't know how commonly rawhide was used for shield facings and rims versus leather, though I suspect the answer is "very". It's tricky to cover a shield with it, because if you stretch the wet rawhide too much it will shrink with tremendous force as it dries, and warp or destroy the wood base! But if you're skilled/lucky enough to avoid that, you'll get a very tough shield.

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Levente M.




Usergroups: None

Location: Hungary
Posts: 35
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 7:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Matthew!
I can get rawhide strips from a pet shop, that is used to make dog chew bones. However they say it's not boiled, only dried.
Do you think that would work?
View user's profile Send private message
Josh MacNeil




Usergroups: 
Donating Members

Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 197
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Levente M. wrote:
Thanks Matthew!
I can get rawhide strips from a pet shop, that is used to make dog chew bones. However they say it's not boiled, only dried.
Do you think that would work?


You can usually tell by the color. Boiled rawhide will have your typical white color we're used to seeing in the form of dog chews. Natural rawhide will be brown/tan and semitransparent.

Rawhide is leather that has not been exposed to tannins; so essentially cut from a carcass, dry and stretch, and you're done. The extra step of the tanning process makes tanned leather more expensive and time consuming to make, as well as making it more suitable for other items. So historically, the advantage to a rawhide rim would have been that it was more economical that tanned leather.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Peter Messent




Usergroups: None

Location: Texas
Posts: 214
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 10:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rawhide is a beast! I've been working with it lately for a couple of knife sheaths (and I did edge a viking shield in it) and it really is tough, and it does not get as flexible as people expect when it's wet. Some of the dog treats turn like gelatin when they're wet - good rawhide does not.

That being said, I would hate to face a shield with it!

Unfortunately, I'm a glutton for punishment, so I probably will. But boy will I be mad about it.
View user's profile Send private message
Frank O'Gorman




Usergroups: 
Donating Members

Location: Dublin Ireland
Posts: 6
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm no expert on the period but is any sort of metal trim around the edge authentic for a Viking shield and possibly a longer lasting solution especially if you're fighting wth it rather than just displaying it?
Just a thought: cut open a 1/2'' or 3/4 '' copper pipe; anneal it to soften and then tack it on around the rim?

Purists look away now

(psst...if its not authentic glue some cheap leather over the metal trim to hide it Big Grin )

Frank
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Messent




Usergroups: None

Location: Texas
Posts: 214
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 7:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To the best of my knowledge (someone will correct me if I'm wrong) there is no archaeological evidence for metal reinforced edges on viking shields; that being said, I believe it is mentioned in some later Icelandic law?
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Bunker




Usergroups: None

Location: Somerset UK
Posts: 473
PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 10:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Messent wrote:
To the best of my knowledge (someone will correct me if I'm wrong) there is no archaeological evidence for metal reinforced edges on viking shields; that being said, I believe it is mentioned in some later Icelandic law?


Three metal bands on the back, nothing on metal rims that I recall.

And if you're worried about sharp burrs from rawhide rims then I'd definitely avoid using copper. Splits easily when struck with blunt steel.

Decent ox hide, stitched on, will last as long as the board if not longer.

Although I've found that if I face the shield front and back with leather or hide and then fold both layers over the rim before stitching through, you don't need an applied rim at all.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
View user's profile Send private message
Bjorn Hagstrom




PostPosted: Thu 25 Apr, 2013 11:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Frank O'Gorman wrote:
I'm no expert on the period but is any sort of metal trim around the edge authentic for a Viking shield and possibly a longer lasting solution especially if you're fighting wth it rather than just displaying it?
Just a thought: cut open a 1/2'' or 3/4 '' copper pipe; anneal it to soften and then tack it on around the rim?

Purists look away now

(psst...if its not authentic glue some cheap leather over the metal trim to hide it Big Grin )

Frank


For blunt metal fighting, having bare metal on a shield rim is a potential safety-issue. You could easily end up with sparks flying around eye-height. Not to mention small pieces of metal if either a contacting blade or the rim chips.

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Peter Messent




Usergroups: None

Location: Texas
Posts: 214
PostPosted: Fri 26 Apr, 2013 9:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:
Three metal bands on the back, nothing on metal rims that I recall.

Aye, in retrospect I believe you are correct. My mistake!
View user's profile Send private message
Stephen Curtin




PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 3:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Messent wrote:
Matthew Bunker wrote:
Three metal bands on the back, nothing on metal rims that I recall.

Aye, in retrospect I believe you are correct. My mistake!


I could be miss-remembering but is'nt there references in the sagas to berserkers biting on iron rimmed shields?

Éirinn go Brách
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Elling Polden




Usergroups: None

Location: Bergen, Norway
Likes: 1 page
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,575
PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 6:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shield rim biting, but no references to iron rims.

Rawhide edges are a modern measure to increase the lifespan of a practice shield. To my knowledge the only shields with edge reinforcements are bucklers.
We use dog chew rawhide, or premade rawhide strips if we stumble across them.

But a historical shield would have a hide facing (thin parchment on the surviving medevial ones) that wraps around the edge.
If someone hits your shield with a sharp sword, it will be damaged in any case, and the weapon most likely get stuck. So this was not a priority.

The three iron bands on the back are mentioned in the later medevial laws in conjunction with the simplest permisible shield. But they are (almost?) never found. My theory is that iron strips would be a replacement for a hide cover, in order to keep the planks together.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
Levente M.




Usergroups: None

Location: Hungary
Posts: 35
PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the answers!
Elling, why were bucklers rimmed and larger shields not? Wouldn't it make sense to rim both?
I have never heard of viking shields not having some sort of rim, just the hide facing folded back.
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Usergroups: None

Location: Bergen, Norway
Likes: 1 page
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,575
PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 5:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bucklers are smaller, and by nature intended to stop sword blows on the edge. They are also, like modern reenactors shields, used for training, and thus subject to constant wear.

Viking age shields, however, are of quite light construction, made of boards that are some 8mm thick at the buckle tapering to 6mm at the edge. Its primary function is to stop spear thrusts; single combat with swords is rare on the battlefield.
If the shield it is hit by forcefull swung attacks, will most likely need to be replaced anyway, rawhide or no.

In any case, a facing that helps keep the planks together is more important than a slightly reinforced rim. Most reenactors shields are made of plywood, and do not have this problem. Initially they where often without facing as well. These days it is common (around here at least) to face them with canvas and glue. But constant training smashes up the edges, so a rawhide rim makes the shield last longer.
Over time it has just become the standard notion of how the viking shield looks. To those who do not fight it seems Sensible™ to have iron fittings, and be very sturdy. This was not the case, however. Shields where like ammo and spreashafts; expendable materials of war. Later knightly shields are thicker, in the 1cm range, but they where carried hung on the shoulder as protection from couched lance blows. Still, they have no edge reinforcement.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
Levente M.




Usergroups: None

Location: Hungary
Posts: 35
PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 7:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Makes sense, thanks Elling!

So you say the 80-90 cm shields were used for battle? As in the shield wall? And they preferred smaller shields for duels?
I have heard of viking bucklers but I thought there isn't enough evidence to support their existence.
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew P. Adams




Usergroups: 
Donating Members

Location: Cape Cod, MA
Likes: 8 pages
Posts: 456
PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This might help, this seems to have good info and some authentic reproduction styles.
http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...hields.htm

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
View user's profile Send private message
Julian Reynolds




Usergroups: None

Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 271
PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By complete coincidence to this thread, yesterday I was reading I P Stephensons "The Anglo Saxon Shield". In it, he concludes that many such shields were leather faced (glued) and sometimes backed, too, with the leather overlapping the rim, sometimes being stitched around the edge, with a many having a copper-alloy trim around the rim (stitched, clipped or riveted). He mentions the use of both cuir bouilli and rawhide, as well as tanned leather, on the rims.

Anglo-Saxon, not Viking, but contemporary nonetheless.

I always used to think of dog-chew shield rims as a true re-enactorism, but there may be a historical precedent.

Julian
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Messent




Usergroups: None

Location: Texas
Posts: 214
PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This video often comes up in discussions of Viking age shields, so I thought I'd throw it out there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkhpqAGdZPc
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Why rawhide shield edge?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next 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 2003-2017 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum