Topic: Iron age shield made from bark discovered in England  (Read 3701 times)


« on: May 30, 2019, 07:14:46 PM »
There has been a very significant find of martial a shield made from bark, rather than metal or timber as previously known examples from the period. The find is dated to the early iron age (~350-250BC) in England, used by Celtic warriors. This is especially rare and significant because a material like bark doesn't normally survive the centuries. I have no idea whether something like this would have been used in Finland, but of interest to people here nonetheless I'm sure.

The discovery reveals that the ancient Britons used the same lightweight shield-making material used at least in more recent centuries by Aboriginal Australian warriors.

It is likely that the Leicestershire shield was actually used in at least one battle. It has two probable spear impact marks and two probable blade marks, potentially made by metal swords.

Each blade impact mark gives a fascinating clue as to the defensive properties of bark shields.

Read more
Crusades fighters ‘had families with locals and recruited offspring’
Bark is more resilient than metal or wood – so sword blows (and arrows) tend to fully or partially rebound off them.

In the case of the blows which caused the blade impact marks on the Leicestershire shield, the blade had quite literally bounced off and back onto the surface, thus producing parallel five centimetre long repeat impact marks, just a few millimetres apart.

It demonstrates the almost rubber-like deflective nature of the shield’s bark composition.

But to make the bark behave in that extremely effective way, the shield’s Iron Age makers had to employ some very sophisticated manufacturing techniques, researchers have discovered.

First, they had dried the bark in such a way as to give it an inbuilt rubber-like weapon-deflecting “bounce” capacity.

They achieved this by inducing tension in the bark, as it dried, by deliberately bending it in the opposite direction to its natural tree-surface curve.

This enabled the inner face of the bark to become the outer impact-absorbing “business” face of the shield.

It is this deliberate curve-reversal-induced tension which gave the shield its protective qualities – and it was the ultra-lightweight nature of bark (as opposed to metal or ordinary timber) which would almost certainly have allowed the warriors to fight more agilely and for longer.