How to create a medieval shield

Written by melanie williamson
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How to create a medieval shield
When designing a shield, you want to chose symbols that represent you. The ant represents great labour or wisdom. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Medieval shields were used for protection, as well as identification and making a personal statement. The designs used on the front of shields held a wide array of different meanings, and were designed to represent the person who carried the shield. Making a medieval shield involves both design and construction. Choosing the style of shield and the design on the front of the shield will come before actually constructing the shield. Creating a medieval shield is a great activity for lessons in knighthood, heraldry and medieval times.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Cardboard
  • Duct tape
  • White poster board
  • Pencil
  • Paints
  • Craft glue

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  1. 1

    Choose the style of shield to be created. There are five basic styles, which vary depending on the role of the person carrying it during medieval times. Jousters carried small shields called Heater shields, while Crossbow men carried very large shields called The Pavise. Heater shields were small, so they could be carried while riding a horse, and The Pavise was large to protect the Crossbow men while they reloaded. There was also the Buckler, which was small enough to hang on one's belt and was used in hand-to-hand combat. The Kite shield was rounded at the top and tapered at the bottom to cover the entire torso of the body. Finally, the Targe was a round shield traditionally used by the Scottish.

  2. 2

    Draw the shape of the shield chosen until a piece of white poster board. This will be the front of the shield and all the space available to design.

  3. 3

    Draw out the design on the front of the shield. Every shape, image and colour on a medieval shield has a specific meaning, so it is important to carefully consider the design on the shield.

  4. 4

    Paint the front of the shield. Once the design is drawn out and finalised, paint it in. Keep in mind the meaning of different colours while you are painting. Since the poster board is white, paint the entire front of the shield. If there are areas meant to go without colour, paint those areas grey or silver to look like the metal of the shield. Let the shield sit for at least an hour while the paint dries.

  5. 5

    Place the poster board shield on top of a large piece of cardboard. Trace around the shield, so you will have a piece of cardboard that is the exact same size and shape.

  6. 6

    Cut out the cardboard in the shape of the shield. You will also need to cut out two or three strips of cardboard that are slightly shorter than the height of the shield.

  7. 7

    Use craft glue to attach the decorated poster board to the card board. This will make the shield hold in place and it will be stronger than poster board alone. Let the shield sit for approximately 15 minutes while the glue dries.

  8. 8

    Lay the shield front down on a flat work surface. Lay the cardboard strips down vertically on the back of the shield. Duct tape the tops of the cardboard strips to the back of the shield. Once the tops are secure, bend the strips just a little, so they are not completely flush with the back of the shield when the bottoms are taped down. Doing this will ensure a forearm can slide between the cardboard strips and the back of the shield.

Tips and warnings

  • When you are finished painting the shield and the paint is dry, spray the front with hairspray or a matter sealing finish. This will prevent the paint from being scratched off while the shields are played with.
  • Thick card board is often difficult to cut. This should either be done by an adult or under direct adult supervision.

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