Wooden shield with a dramatic dragon motif from the Viking Age. In the centre of the shield is a decorative metal umbo. On the back of the shield are two solid leather straps to keep a hold of, when the going gets rough. Get your own Viking Shield here. The shield was the most common means of defence. The sagas specifically mention linden wood for shield construction, although finds from graves shows mostly other timbers, such as fir, alder and poplar. These timbers are not very dense and are light in the hand. They are also not inclined to split, unlike oak. Some Viking shields may have been decorated by simple patterns although some skaldic poems praising shields might indicate more elaborate decoration and archaeological evidence has supported this.
In fact, there is a complete subgenre of Skaldic poetry dedicated to shields, known as "shield poems," that describe scenes painted on shields. Viking shields were also heavily used in formations. The shield fort, or skjaldborg, was a main formation in which accomplished Viking warriors would create a line of interlocked shields and thrust spears at adversaries. Other notable tactics included swine order, or svinfylking, in which warriors would create a wedge configuration and attempt to burst through the front line of nearby foes.
A shieldmaiden was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Two shieldmaidens appear in certain translations of the "Hervarar saga." The first of these Hervor's was known to have taken up typically masculine roles early in her childhood, and often raided travelers in the woods dressed as a man. Later in her life she claimed the cursed sword Tyrfing from her father's burial site and became a seafaring raider. She eventually settled and married. Her granddaughter was also named Hervor and commanded forces against attacking Huns. Although the saga remarks on her bravery she is mortally wounded by enemy forces and dies on the battlefield.
The shield is made of metal, leather and tree and measures 41 cm in diameter