A shield from the Iron Age discovered in Leicestershire

University of Leicester Archaeological Services

A rare shield from the Iron Age was discovered near Leicestershire in 2015. Experts suggest the object is dated between 395 and 255BC and it gave an “unparalleled” insight into prehistoric technology. A team of archaeologists found the unique specimen in the Everards Meadows site by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS).

When discovered, the shield was badly damaged by spears and other weapons. It measures about 670 x 370mm (26ins x 15ins). Archaeologists reported in a statement that such shields were common during the Iron Age, but the organic material used to create these shields indicate that they had less chances of survival.

Reports suggest the 2,300-year-old shield has a rim of split hazel rod and a boss. Experts believe it was used in order to protect the hand, which was woven from a willow core. Moreover, the bark used in the shield was from either alder, poplar, willow, hazel or spindle and the stiffening spars were made of quince, apple, pear, or hawthorn. According to reports a reconstruction of the shield showed, although the shield was not as strong as the solid wooden shields, it could stop a blow effectively, apart from it being very light in weight.

The Iron Age began in Britain around 800 BC and ended with the Roman invasion in AD 43. The name, the Iron Age is derived owing to the widespread usage of iron during that time. During the Iron Age, advanced iron tools were developed in the field of industry and agriculture. The Iron Age also gave rise to larger settlements and a more evolved and sophisticated structure of society.

Mike Bamforth, from the University of York, reported using CT scanning and 3D printing to study the shield. “Being part of the team working to tease apart the complex secrets of the shield’s construction has been incredibly interesting and rewarding,” he said in a statement.

The curious object will be put on display at the British Museum.