Published on Jan 6, 2020

Shield Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

The shield is one of the most useful tools a melee fighter can have. While the image of a shield may be somewhat lacking in popularity compared to that of a massive two-handed weapon or agile dual wielding, the fact is that a man with a shield and the skill the wield it can become nearly impervious to attacks. We’ll discuss shields from throughout history, from Greek hoplons to those carried by modern riot squads.

For nearly as long as weapons have existed, shields have existed. Wood and animal hide based ones made up the bulk of ancient shields, although occasionally metal, wicker, and even turtle shells were used, though metal was almost exclusively used for ceremonial purposes.

The early shields of civilization came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Greek hoplites carried round, bowl-shaped wooden shields known as either an aspis or a hoplon. Roman legionnaires carried large rectangular shields known as scuta, which they would use to create impervious formations completely surrounded by their comrade’s scuta.


The most popular ones in modern fantasy and historical imagery are those of medieval knights; the kite and its successor the heater, which serves as the inspiration for modern heraldric shields. These defensive tools were typically made of layers of laminated wood, and often featured a knight’s symbols. These larger, wooden arms were replaced by small metal bucklers, meant not for protection against missiles but exclusively for melee combat, as the advance of armor made carrying something heavier than a buckler unnecessary and impractical.

In the modern era, shields continue to serve to protect against missile attacks, although today the projectiles are not arrows. Law enforcement teams often have two kinds of shields available to them. Riot shields. which are meant as protect officers during riots from thrown weapons and allow them to contract a wall of shields to block rampaging people, and bullet-proof tactical shields, meant for protection in high risk situations such as siege breaches and other similar situations.

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