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Viking Armor

Viking Shields

Viking Shields are one of the most important pieces of equipment in Viking age warfare. They were vital in protecting the Viking warrior and would have to be made of a variety of materials. Vikings had very limited resources for their shields, so every design and coloration that could be crafted was used. They would use different types of timber and animal hides, and metals like iron, bronze, or silver to make these shields. 

The Round Viking Shieldwas the most common style of the shield in the Viking age. Because they were so simple and easy to construct, this shield was durable and could be used by both soldiers and farmers. They were made out of planks of wood, or sometimes even animal hides, stitched together with rope that had been heated over a fire. The leather shields would be painted with dyes to give them color. The shields were incredibly important to the Vikings, and they would use them in almost every battle.

Types of Viking Shields used

Although Viking shields were made of similar materials, there were several different types of shields.

1. Gokstad shields:

Gokstad shields have been found in two different sizes, one being small and one large. These shields were made from pine wood and were covered in leather on the outside. The leather is painted black with some leaves or patterns on it. These shields are also richly decorated with bronze weathering. The handle of the shield was made to grip tightly and easy to hold onto, even in combat. The stitching of the leather is also sturdy and won't fall apart with the weight of a sword. Also, the handle is made so that it has a piece on the side to be hung from a handle or strap. The large shields were mounted onto the wall of Gokstad's ship,

2. Surviving shields

Most of the surviving shields were made of spruce, spruce, or fir woods. These shields were made from the best wood found in Scandinavia: it was light, but it did not split or crack under heavy impact. They were also durable and sturdy shields. They had to be well-crafted, as they were vital in protecting the Viking warrior. The shields were mostly made from beautifully carved pieces of wood that were covered in leather. 

The leather was sometimes decorated with metal fittings or metal buttons decorated or made into variations of the Battle Axe symbol. They used iron, silver, bronze, and even iron-covered stylized wolf heads as decorative elements on their shields and symbols of their Viking heritage. These shields were typically painted with a black background, and the images they had carved on them were done in bright colors of red, yellow, blue, or white. 

Viking Shields in Battle

In Viking battles, a shield wallwould form surrounding an army. This was done to protect the warriors and provide them with protection while they fought against their enemy. It also allowed Viking archers to fire volleys at their enemies without being targeted by other missiles or direct attacks. This was very important in Viking battle as it allowed Vikings to pick their fights and fight on a more equal level with other armies during war times. Vikings were known to have some of the best shields in all of Europe.

 As Vikings traveled across Europe plundering monasteries and villages, they would bring shields back with them that they captured from other villages and kingdoms or just taken from dead bodies on the battlefields. They would incorporate these shields into their own armies, each having a unique design. The Vikings would incorporate this into their battle style, and each shield they had had a different position on the battlefield. They referred to the shield's position on the battlefield as "high" or "low," which meant its position in the formation of their army. 


It was also common for Vikings to paint or decorate their shields before going into battle. This was very important because it showed their warriors' bravery and dedication to protect other Vikings who could not protect themselves. The most common designs were stylized wolf symbols, with a certain color of paint that represented certain groups of Vikings. Each army was unique in who they represented and what they stood for, so there were no two armies that were exactly alike when it came to designing and painting styles.

Viking Shield Color Meaning

Different color shields were used by different tribes or groups of Vikings. The Viking tribes that used the different colors were scattered all over Europe and the rest of Scandinavia, and they would use them to help distinguish not just their shield design but also their warrior identity in battle. 

  • Red - used to symbolize power and strength
  • Green- is used to symbolize hope and good fortune.
  • Gold- used to symbolize wealth and prosperity.
  • Black - used to symbolize death, evil, and destruction.
  • White - used to represent purity and honesty.
  • Blue - used to represent loyalty, justice, and honor.

Viking Shield Designs Meaning

Vikings used shields for many different purposes. They were used for battle and for protection. Shield designs were used to show the person who was carrying it, their affiliation and status, as well as their courage, loyalty, bravery, and dedication to fighting in battle. These shields also helped protect Viking warriors from arrows, arrows from chainmail, or other forms of projectile weaponry from their enemies during war. 

Shields have been known to have decorative designs carved into them that help aid in distinguishing between different armies or even armies of different types. These shields could be decorated with seals or logos that represent what the army was based on or what the warrior believed in at the time. For example, some shields had the image of a dragon carved into them as a symbol of terror for their enemies. 


Some shields also had stylized wolf images on them as well. These were extremely important to Viking warriors because they gave them the courage to fight in battle and helped to give Vikings a sense of unity with each other in battle. As well as this, Vikings used shields to create a feeling of unity among their army and for them to be able to identify with each other. They also used shields to symbolize certain things. For example, a  Viking Shieldcould represent the tribe of Vikings that carried it or it could represent the Viking warrior who carried it. Some Viking Shield Designs also had images of animals carved into them as well. These were usually used as a symbol of strength and power and to give Viking warriors courage before going into battle.

Shield Maiden

There are many tales of how to shield maidenswere used in battle. Shield maidens were a group of women who helped fight battles alongside the Vikings and their men during the war. They would lead armies into battle and provide assistance to any injured soldiers on the battlefield. They were also used to intimidate enemies and would often taunt them before battle started to try to frighten them away from fighting the Vikings. 

Shield maidens were not only used for fighting, but they would also protect the supplies that the army was carrying with them as well as any captured items from other villages or kingdoms. They were usually armed with axes, swords, and spears, but some shield maidens also have been known to have bows as well as shields. The shield maidens would always fight alongside their men and would never leave or retreat from the battlefield unless they were forced to do so.

Viking Shields from the Viking Age to Today

Today, in the early part of the 21st century, Viking shields have inspired a whole new generation of shieldmakers. Many artists enjoy replicating these shields and using them to create a new art form. These shields can be used to create works of art that show the Viking warrior who used it in battle as well as it's beauty and design. These shields can be hung on the wall, displayed on a table or stand, or even used to create frames for photographs or artwork.

While the Vikings did not have any specific shield style, they did have many different designs that were all based around the same idea of strength and protection. This is why many shield makers today will use these different Viking designs in their work because they are all based around this idea of strength. We can also see movies like "Vikings" and "The 13th Warrior", which help people to remember what the Viking age was like and the important role that shields played in their culture. 


Shields were a very important part of life for Vikings. They used them in battle, and they used them for protection. Vikings also used shields to not just protect themselves from their enemies but also to protect and help their comrades during battle. There are many different styles of 

Viking shields have been replicated over the years by artists, shield makers, and others who enjoy creating something unique and beautiful to help others remember what the past was like. So while they may not have had a specific  Norse shieldstyle, they were still an important part of Viking culture, showing how important shields were to that culture.


literary evidence

  1. The 10th century Frankish poem Waltharius
  2. TheGulaþing laws

Viking Shield Museum

  1. British Museum in London
  2. National Museum of Denmark.

Viking Shields History

  1. National Museum of Denmark website