Iraq Banner Desktop

Store Banner Mobile

A the front of a copy of the bark shield. Source: University of Leicester/Fair Use

The Enderby Shield: A Bark-Made Artifact from the Iron Age? (Video)


In the annals of Iron Age history, the Enderby Shield emerges as a stunning revelation, challenging conventional notions of weaponry and craftsmanship. Discovered in 2015 near Leicester, this extraordinary artifact defies expectations, presenting a shield entirely crafted from organic materials—a stark departure from the prevalent metal constructions of the era.

Recreating the shield's composition unveils a captivating fusion of natural elements. Willow bark, meticulously harvested during specific seasons to ensure optimal flexibility, forms the shield's resilient core. Its exterior, rugged and textured, contrasts sharply with the smooth inner surface, indicative of the artisan's meticulous craftsmanship.

At the heart of the shield lies the boss, a feat of ancient engineering crafted through intricate basketry techniques. Spiraled around a willow rod and stitched with lime bast—an enduring fiber sourced from the inner bark of lime trees—the boss not only provides structural integrity but also exemplifies the artisan's mastery of organic materials.

Further enhancing the shield's durability is a rim meticulously fashioned from hazel, meticulously bent and stitched along its edges. This wooden rim, a departure from the era's metal-edged shields, underscores the innovative design and resourcefulness of its creators.

The shield's construction reveals a sophisticated understanding of materials and techniques, offering valuable insights into Iron Age craftsmanship.

Top image: A the front of a copy of the bark shield. Source: University of Leicester/Fair Use

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

Next article