Shield bosses

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Bosses on round shields

Particularly in the earlier, pre-viking period, shield-bosses could be quite pointed and perhaps even sharp, suggesting that the shield might be used as a weapon in itself. By the tenth and eleventh centuries shield bosses tended to be more rounded as fighting units grew larger and it became less convenient to stick in sharp boss in the back of the front rank. For safety reasons, all shield bosses must be rounded – or else they won’t be allowed on the field.

Kite shields and shield bosses

Kite shields do not require bosses since there is no hole in the shield for a handgrip and therefore no need to add metal protection. Nonetheless, eleventh-century kite shields frequently had bosses, presumably because that was just how shields were designed. These redundant bosses tended to be smaller than their ‘real’ equivalents. By the mid-twelfth century they stopped being commonly added.