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Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:05 pm
by Tiddles
Why do some Kite shields have a Shield Boss when from what I understand they are strapped the arm. Not held with the hand like a round shield.

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:11 pm
by Medicus Matt
Tiddles wrote:Why do some Kite shields have a Shield Boss when from what I understand they are strapped the arm. Not held with the hand like a round shield.


Force of habit.
Something to catch and deflect your opponents sword blade with.
Something to smash your opponent in the chops with.

Take your pick. Nobody really knows.

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:34 pm
by Tiddles
From what I have seen it is more common on the road top kite shield and not seen on the flat top kite shield's.

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:42 pm
by Medicus Matt
Tiddles wrote:From what I have seen it is more common on the road top kite shield and not seen on the flat top kite shield's.


I don't think it's as clear cut as that. I know that the famous image of Geoff Plantaganet shows him with a flat top shield with a boss on it. That's mid 12th century.

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:04 pm
by Dingo8MyBaby
Smaller ones are decorative, there is also examples of decorative metal strips radiating out from them, these can be found on round top and the later flat top kites - usually linked to someone of note. There are examples of ones with small domes and wider flanges that possibly offered broader protection for the forearm behind them, but they are few and more southern than England etc.

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:40 pm
by Medicus Matt
Useful thread with lots of interesting examples on the ever informative 'MyArmoury'..
http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=26755

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:40 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Umbones (shield bosses) became vestigial by the late 11th/early 12th century, meaning that they no longer served their original function but remained for reasons of tradition, or practicality in providing a projecting "lump" on the face of the shield. This could be used as previously mentioned as an offensive feature, but many were very small compared with earlier types.

It is entirely possible that vestigial bosses would have continued in use but for the advent of heraldry; the earliest English heraldry appeared in the 1140s and this began a steady decline in the use of bosses, until they had almost completely gone out of use by 1200, when heraldry was out of short trousers and starting at secondary school (well, you know what I mean). This provides a reliable dating system when combined with other features - for example the so-called Carlton-in-Lindrick knight figure discovered in Bassetlaw, Notts in 2004, a small bronze figurine of a mounted knight. He can only date from the late 12th century, despite carrying a round-topped kite shield, because this shield has no boss and his horse is kitted out with a full caparison. Together these elements make the dating fairly certain:

carltonknight3.jpg

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:59 pm
by Biro
Is that really a caparison, or is it a limitation of the material or craftsman to do individual horses legs given it's size?

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:01 am
by Brother Ranulf
It really is a caparison, with folds visible in the material and definite front and rear sections as depicted in other art. I was able to obtain a detailed description from Bassetlaw Museum soon after its discovery and the comparison with manuscript illustrations showing full caparisons was conclusive.

This is not the only evidence for round-topped kites at the end of the 12th century, which exactly parallels the continued use of the plain "Norman" helmet despite many other types being developed alongside them. I am not aware of any contemporary "limitations" in artistry in things like water ewers in the shape of horses - perhaps you have an example in mind? In fact there is no limitation in the use of bronze in extremely fine, detailed work in things like buckles and brooches, horse pendants, small keys and candlesticks, among many other items.

Re: Kite Shield Boss??

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:45 am
by WilliamTheHound
I ask an experienced member of my reenactment group about this, according to him, the boss is mostly a feature added to break shields when charging in a boar's snout. The boss focuses the force on a smaller point, in order to break the shields of the enemy's shieldwall.