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Wooden Shield Dating to Iron Age Discovered in England

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Wood battle shieldLEICESTERSHIRE, ENGLAND—According to a report in The Guardian, a 2,300-year-old wooden shield was discovered in a waterlogged pit in England’s Midlands by a team of archaeologists led by Matt Beamish of the University of Leicester Archaeological Service. Beamish said it had been previously thought that shields made from tree bark, which were unknown in the Northern Hemisphere, might have been too flimsy for use in war. Tests with replica shields, however, suggest they were tough and light. The researchers recreated the shield, which measured just one-tenth of an inch thick, with green bark from alder and willow trees, and stiffened it with internal wooden laths. As the green wood dried, it tightened and became stronger and the shield rounded slightly. The ancient shield also had wooden edging around its rim, a woven boss to protect its wooden handle, and was painted and scored in a red checkerboard pattern. “This is a lost technology,” Beamish said. “It has not been seen before as far as we are aware, but presumably it is a technique that was used many ways for making bark items.” For more on archaeology in this area, go to “A Night Out in Leicestershire.”

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