Celtic and Viking shields and bucklers. Like the Romans, and most ancient warriors, the Celts used shields in battle. These were usually oval, but they could be rectangular, circular or hexagonal and decorated with floral, geometric and figural designs. The Celts often took great pride in the crafting of their shields. They used hide covered wood with metal ribbing, spines and edges and their designs were frequently imitated throughout the classic western world.
The spartan hoplite shields were called "hoplon or aspis". The hoplon was a large, deeply concave, circular shield made of wood and bronze. The hoplon averaged about 31-39 inches in diameter and it was made with a wooden core, lined with thin leather, covered with bronze and nearly always painted. History confirms that warriors who lost their shield in battle, at the same time lost their honor. The Greek fighting techniques were developed around the use of the shield, therefore the phalanx was one of the most lethal troop formation in the ancient world.
The medieval shields are part of the wartime history of all civilizations. The Byzantines used the oval cut shield. The Normans used the almond shaped shield so they could stick it in the ground. The Celts had squared shields with beatiful drawings. As other parts of the armour were developed (helmet, gorget, gauntlets, etc..) The shield has become smaller and lighter, but made of materials resistant to strong sword blows, arrows or maces. Shields not only defended, also served to identify the gentleman who wore it, or at least his military rank. Many were decorated with the symbols of their family. The shields we manufacture nowadays are mostly decorative and represent the names of famous kings, brave knights and fantastic characters.
Experts say that the shield reveals the way an entire nation fought. We can say the same of roman scutum. The scutum was a large body shield made of plywood covered with leather, making it both strong and flexible. In the center of the shield concentrated most of the weight (10 kilos approx), to receive the blows; the roman scutum was heavier than the Greeks hoplon. In battle, the shield used to create a unique formation known as the testudo, or tortoise: the soldiers on the front and sides of the formation would hold their shields outward, while the remainder would overlap their shields above the heads of the formation. This technique allowed the Romans to approach and undermine walls without much fear of arrows or rocks from above.
Warfare was an important part of Nordic and Anglo-Saxon society. Men in these cultures were warriors first and foremost, farmers and traders second, and the shield was a powerful symbol of the warrior. In almost half of the Viking graves discovered, men rest beside a shield. The shield's body was typically made from planks of linden, also known as lime wood and many illustrations show a distinct rim to the shield. The central opening for the hand (the boss) is oval or round and crossed by a short wooden grip.
Shields and bucklers of all times, which by its nature can be used in recreations and real combats. It is obvious that most of the shields manufactured nowadays are decorative, but do not forget that there are still people who prefer to spend their spare time fighting medieval style with real swords and real shields. Few craftsmen still manufacture this type of shields. The difference between functional and decorative shields is in the types of materials used and their finishes. The functional shields are manufactured with metals capable of receiving heavy blows of the sword, but they are not so pretty.