Baker, Mike mbaker at
Fri Dec 6 13:26:00 PST 1996

Amra's Really Out-of-Date Shield Explanation & Mis-Guided Glossary

("~=":  "approximately equal", there may be a better or more definitive 
description somewhere. I make *no* claims to complete accuracy... 
particularly as I have extremely limited personal experience _carrying_ a 
shield in combat)

Heater ~= "normal" heraldic shape. In combat, the most common style of carry 
keeps the straight side approximately parallel to the ground and on top. A 
surprisingly effective variation also seen is to carry the *point* as the 
highest portion of the shield, which allows some roundshield techniques to 
be transferred more quickly between styles.

Scutum ~= large rectangle, or segment of cylinder that would be a rectangle 
if flattened; carried with long axis perpendicular to ground-plane in most 
usage. Cf. "barn door", also known in modern parlance as the "Legionaire's 
A "true" scutum is partially cylindrical, and appears to have been at least 
60 per cent of the bearer's height and at least as wide as his shoulders; 
there are no doubt Roman military regulations that can be searched for the 
Empire's standard dimensions. (In American cinematic examples, this is the 
shield used when Roman soldiers are ordered to "Form a turtle!" (in Latin, 
"testudo"). I cannot speak with certainty that this was the only shield so 
employed by the historical Legions.)

"Barn Door" ~= also known as the "warshield"; generally, a rectangular 
shield of maximum permissible dimensions according to the Rules and favored 
in creating shieldwalls in melee / war scenarios. (Historically, one 
Ansteorran fighter in particular was reknowned for using a black, 
curve-formed kite/heater of same overall size but with a definite lower 

"Wankel" ~= heater in which all three outer edges are arcs (no straight 
edge). In combat, gains some of the advantages of the heater without needing 
tremendous re-training from roundshield habits.
Popular in Ansteorra c. AS XIV; Cf. HE Jan {~w}Orzeldom, possibly best-known 
proponent and user of this form.

Madu ~= adaptation of an African-origin weapon/shield. In the original for 
which named, essentially a buckler with two antelope horns attached. In 
normal SCA rattan weapon usage, this is the nearest we normally allow to a 
shield which is also employable as a weapon. Under the normal SCA rules, 
I've seen this considered a parrying weapon with thrusting tip(s) in the 
past. Check with the marshallate for current restrictions.

Buckler ~= small shield carried in the hand / strapped to the hand&wrist 
area. Bucklers may be found in many differing shapes and sizes, and in SCA 
rattan combat usage were once upon a time constructed from Chevrolet-type 
"baby moon" hubcaps (NOT suggested, and may be actively banned now, as 
several were seen to crumple around the defender's hand over the years... 
check with your local knight-marshall!)

Oval ~= oval shaped shield which is generally used in the same manner as a 
barndoor, scutum or roundshield (style typically depending upon relative 
size of shield and fighter). For the few who so indulge, SCA spear&oval 
style often looks fairly similar to African shield&assegai.

Kite ~= elongated heater. Historically, the "top" edge was generally rounded 
instead of straight (yielding an overall outline more like a child's toy 
kite than the heater's flatiron). In SCA usage, often has all straight edges 
(whereas the heater's sides curve in to form the point opposite the straight 
side, a kiteshield may be though of as a "barndoor" with two relatively 
small triangles removed from the bottom corners).

Targe, Target ~= Scottish roundshield with center grip (?) and typically 
studded with metal

Roundshield ~= Although possibly self-explanatory, it should be noted that 
differing sizes of shield and types of strapping / carry / suspension / boss 
 - no boss / weapon combinations make rounds less popular than they might 
otherwise be.

Amr ibn Majid al-Bakri al-Amra,
     once upon a time (and soon to be) "heavy" fighter; herald, bard, and 
     currently residing in Barony of the Steppes, Kingdom of Ansteorra
Mike C. Baker                      mbaker at
Any opinions expressed are obviously my own unless explicitly stated 

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