In the previous chapter (link) we revealed that (in contrast to the wide variability of shields from contemporary graves) the late 6th century princely burial shields were all practically identical, with suites of four simple disc mounts on the board, simple 1a(i) iron grip reinforcers, and innovative SB-4b / Dickinson’s Type 6 shield bosses – the smallest and lightest of all Anglo-Saxon bosses. In a number of these cases the boards were also made of ultra-light-weight willow. This is the lightest combination of fittings possible, among those evidenced from early Anglo-Saxon graves. We have therefore argued that the princely shields represent a class of very carefully made, high-performance versions of the standard Anglo-Saxon shield, with weight-reduction prioritised over ostentation.
In 2021 we undertook a project to reconstruct such a shield – to explore precisely how light such a shield could be for a given diameter, and to explore methods consistent with archaeological clues which might have been employed to embellish such shields, commensurate with the status of their owners, without compromising their performance. The result would provide a theoretical minimum weight for an early Anglo-Saxon shield of practical size, and represent our tenth and most ‘authentic’ shield reproduction to date.