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Viking Shield
Time Period: 5th-11th century AD
Location: Northern Europe
Common Construction: Wood with an Iron Umbo

Viking shield is a general term for a round shield with an iron umbo used by Northern European warriors after the fall of Rome in the period known as the Dark Ages. Viking shields are always round, although the diameter varies slightly. The shields were always covered in leather, although the specific animal hide is not known because there are no surviving archaeological specimens.

Limited archaeological evidence leaves some questions as to exact nature of the shield. It is not certain whether it was completely flat, or convex near the edges. Shields that indicate rounded edges are not uniformly convex and may be a result of battle damage to the shield rather than intentional shaping.

It is also not certain how the shield was rimmed. Iron strips may have rimmed the shield to reinforce it, or it may have just been rimmed with leather. Period illustrations show a definite rim to the shield, but it may be decorative rather than functional.

The shield was the most important piece of equipment that the warrior carried. Round wooden shields survived in some form until the development of the kite shield in the 11th century.

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