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Hjortspring Shield

Henry Utley

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My investigation into Hjortspring continues with a new project from the find. I collaborated with my friend Nate Bell and my better half Aluruna Studio to interpret the shields from Hjortspring. More to come later, hopefully, regarding the spears...


Nate did the construction entirely, made from maple harvested on his property, entirely worked with hand tools. It is one plank, tapered in all directions, with a separate boss and grip. Overall the shield is about two feet long by one foot wide. The boss is fixed with hide glue and two pins, per the artifacts. The grip is made with the twist-lock system like many of the Hjortspring shields, and then wedged in the grooves to prevent the grip from moving. The grip has a slight curve outward from the shield and a groove in the center. It is almost flush with the back side of the board. 


We chose to bind the shield in thin leather. We took this idea chiefly from the Borremose shield, while it is not conclusive that the leather found in association with the Borremose shield was in fact a binding, we felt that it was reasonable to bind the shield in something. We debated parchment, but ultimately went with leather because it felt less conjectural given the possible leather binding at Borremose.

The binding is glued on with hide glue. We chose not to do an edging other than having the facing wrapped over the shield because the Hjortspring shields lacked stitching holes at the edges that would have typically been an indication for a separate edging.


The blue paint is made with shale clay local to Nate, lime, cassein binder, and Woad. The red and yellow paints are both milk paints. After painting the shield was sealed with beeswax. 

The pattern of the paint is conjectural, but based on motifs surrounding the time period. I used inspiration from Jastorf culture pottery, jewelry, and other artefacts to try to get an understanding of the common motifs. Not all of them were suited to the shape of the shield, and I did not want to simply copy the patterns from the Arch of Orange like I see so many recreations. I ultimately wound up trying my best to synthesize a design that I felt would be happily among the motifs of the time period. 


I chose a ring and dot pattern on the boss, intended to pay homage to some of the bosses from Hjortspring that had round bulbs at the front.

The crescent shapes are inspired by the parallel lines, half-circle patterns, X patterns, and opposing crescent patterns found around the period of Hjortspring, and admittedly, a bit later (stretching from the late pre roman iron age to the early roman iron age).


Our main sources were Hjortspringfundet, Shields and Hide. On the use of hide in Germanic shields of the Iron Age and Viking Age Weapons, Armament, and Society. The Pre-Roman Iron Age on Zealand and in Scania, Das Jastorf Konzept, Danmarks Olditd, and other articles. 






























Edited by Henry Utley
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  • Henry Utley changed the title to Hjortspring Shield

Awesome even!


“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  





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