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"No shieldwalls - conclusion from archeology" Topic

15 Posts

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Comments or corrections?

M C MonkeyDew31 Aug 2017 6:51 a.m. PST

'e's been silenced for heretical thought.

Ponder Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 6:54 a.m. PST


Very frustrating trying to post this.

Very interesting article, worth reading if you've an interest in Dark Age warfare.

Ponder on,


Personal logo jeffreyw3 Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 7:26 a.m. PST

Yeah, I ran into the same thing the other day. You just have to go get a sandwich and wait for the "Crosspost?" dialog to appear.

GurKhan31 Aug 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

Might be worth reading in conjunction with the same researcher's link and perhaps also with link

Puster Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 7:38 a.m. PST

So his conclusion is not "NO Shieldwalls" but "no VIKING shieldwalls", as the viking shield is unsuited to form a wall.
Talk about misleading forum thread names…

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 11:26 a.m. PST

I'm not changing my impression of Viking combat based on the interpretations of one researcher.

How does he account for references in the Sagas and the Saxon writings to shield walls on both sides?

Is the Gokstad ship the only place shields were found?
Note that such was a funeral ship. Would that make a difference?

In the end, he might carry the day with his views. Too early to tell. But note that the surest way for an academic to get attention is to be contrary.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

I always laughed at the depictions of shield walls in TV shows, the Romans Testudo has more in common with them IMO!
I think shield walls were just lots of guys standing in line with shields in front…just like people did in every other period of ancient and medieval warfare!
Feel free to disagree though!!!

M C MonkeyDew31 Aug 2017 2:03 p.m. PST

+1 Herybird. A scrum, with shields.

Ponder: I sympathize. Sometimes its hard to get a post in and others it just wanders off to another board. Always an adventure!

VVV reply01 Sep 2017 1:21 a.m. PST

I always laughed at the depictions of shield walls in TV shows, the Romans Testudo has more in common with them IMO!

True but TV shows (and films) have an audience to cater for. They unlikely to show things how they were. The other unrealistic thing often shown is battles breaking up to individual fights all over the battlefield. The Romans would have laughed their socks off.
Vikings no doubt fought in skirmishes (and personal combats) but in battles the shield wall formation should have the edge, a line of soldiers close together protecting each other with their shields.

Wulfgar01 Sep 2017 3:53 p.m. PST

Well, if Rolf Warming says there were no shield walls, then it must be true. I never did have much faith in the Norse Sagas or Anglo-Saxon poetry.

Still, it was an interesting article, Ponder. Thank you for the chance to read it. I guess we'll have to see what other scholars have to say.

Puster Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2017 3:15 p.m. PST

There is always the possibility that "Vikings" would not fight uniform over several centuries, countries and campaigns…

It may be – actually its most likely – that shields used for raids by smaller groups were more mobile then those used for shock infantry equipped and trained for battles.

Henry Martini02 Sep 2017 6:44 p.m. PST

Oddly enough, certain rules writers have been onto this for some time. For instance, in Dux Bellorum there are separate generic Land Raider and Sea Raider army lists in which infantry can only be fielded as 'warrior' units, even in the case of armies whose infantry would normally rate as 'shieldwall' in their standard lists.

Puster Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2017 8:28 p.m. PST

Makes sense. Far more then a base claim that there were no shieldwalls based on individual archeological finds…. :-)

Bindon Blood24 Sep 2017 2:39 a.m. PST

I think shieldwalls existed.

However I don't think it is a special formation. It's just a description of a bunch of guys standing in a line holding shields.

Poets are always prone to using colourful language to describe the ordinary, would Dark Age bards be any different?

Most Napoleonic rule sets don't have a 'thin red line' formation, so why a shield wall formation??

Rogue Zoat25 Sep 2017 1:52 a.m. PST

Pan Marek, interesting you say that (you're last sentence)- a friend of mine told me their lecturer stated that women wore Mjolnirs, not men. I asked for a source to this but didn't get one.

Interesting prospect. It does look good in the films. Although I always had a humorous thought in my mind of both sides "shieldwalling" for days and not actually doing any fighting.

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