How to make a Roman shield

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How to make a Roman shield
The legionary shield, or scutum, is one of the most recognisable symbols of ancient Rome. (Getty creative)

Roman shields great for costumes, for dressing up a room or even just for proving to yourself that you can do it. There are two main types of roman shields: One is rectangular and is used by the infantry, and one is circular, round or oval, and was used by the auxiliary and cavalry, as well as by the infantry of earlier eras. The shield could both protect and be used as a weapon.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wood
  • Cardboard
  • Paint
  • Leather, canvas or another cloth
  • Binding, leather or rawhide
  • Two nails
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Pattern

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  1. 1

    Create a pattern after determining whether you want a shield that is circular or rectangular. If you are making an oval or a round shield, you can make it from wood, but making the pattern from a heavy cardboard might be easier to begin with. If, on the other hand, you prefer a rectangular shield that will mould more closely to your body, use a thick cardboard to begin with so it can be bent around you. Most shields in this time were between 106 and 122 cm (3.5 to 4 feet) long and 90 cm to a metre (3 to 3.25 feet) wide. Stick a nail in the material you're using, near where you want the top to be. Measure 106 cm (3.5 feet) down and add a second nail. If you're making a rectangular shield, you have your top and bottom, but if you're making an oval square, it's not so easy. Take a string that's almost double the length of the distance between the nails and tie it to each nail. Then, take a pencil and draw a line extending the pencil the width of the string on either side. This is not easy, and may take several tries, so don't be discouraged and keep the pattern in case you want to do it again.

  2. 2

    Cut out the pattern and move it to the material you want to make your sword from--be it another sheet of cardboard or a wood board--and cut that out. Reinforce the back of the shield so you will have something to grip that won't break. A crossbar works well. Sand the wood beforehand.

  3. 3

    Cover the roman shield with a leather, canvas or cloth substance. This will make it look more genuine. Fasten it with rawhide, metal or leather so that the cloth will stay on. Use staples if you really want to, but they will detract from the accuracy.

  4. 4

    Paint your shield in bold, bright colours. The Romans decorated their shields with lightning bolts, wings and images of the gods.

Tips and warnings

  • Save the pattern you make so you can use it again if you want to.
  • Use a strong material for the back of the shield so you have something to hold on to.

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