Round Shield Bosses

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Completion Rating
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Viking Age Compendium articles on Shields:
VA Round Shield Bosses.jpg
Round Shield Bosses
Viking Age Compendium articles on Shields:
VA Round Shield Bosses.jpg
Round Shield Bosses

Also known as an Umbo


Cauldron from Micklebostad, Norway

By area

Sweden, Birka

68 shields in 58 graves, 8 graves with 2 shields. Less than 50% could be categorised into the typology.


Shields have been found in 28 burials in Denmark. [PEDERSEN 2014A]:p.96-98

Viking Domed

The typologies used for Viking domed bosses are:

Rygh's typology is the most widely referred to and was used by Petersen in 1919 [PETERSEN 1919] and almost all books and papers since. A new typology is presented in Hjardar & Vike 'Vikings at War'. Little information is given regarding the typology in the book. [HJARDAR & VIKE 2016]:p.185

R564 / Type A

  • R564.jpg
  • "Shield-boss with an approximately hemispherical dome and a high, clearly offset neck increasing slightly in diameter towards a flat or slightly slanting flange. A variant has a less pronounced transition between dome and neck, and a lower neck."[PEDERSEN 2014A]:p.98

    Date - From AD 700 to AD 925.

    • Norway, Myklebost
    • Sweden, Birka
    2 in Bj 628, Bj 798, Bj 1098 (Arbman 1940:Taf. 16:1 & 3)
    Dia:14.5-17cm H:6.5-10cm

    R562 / Type B

  • R562.jpg
  • "Shield-boss with a lower, not quite hemispherical dome without a pronounced transition towards a very low neck."[PEDERSEN 2014A]:p.98

    Date - From AD 830 to AD 970.

    • England, Cumbria: Cumwhitton
    Grave 4. Described as R564/R562. [PATERSON 2014]

    • Ireland, Kilmainham c.1836
    lost. Probably of type R562 [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.313
    • Ireland, Kilmainham 1845
    D340(W1;Wk3) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.324-325
    D341(W2;Wk20) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.324-326
    • Ireland, Islandbridge 1866A
    R2362(Wk7;Boe Wk7) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.434
    • Ireland, Islandbridge 1869
    Wk2(Boe Wk2) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.324-325
    • Ireland, Co. Kerry: Cloghermore
    99E0413:145:1-3 [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.624
    • Ireland, Co. Galway: Eyrephort
    1947:53 [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.633

    Fragments of 13? shield-bosses all of them badly broken and defective. Type R562.

    • Sweden, Birka
    (among others) Bj 581, Bj 955. Bj 958 (Arbman 1940:Taf. 16:5 & 4)
    Dia:13.5-15.5cm H:~6.6cm

    R563 / Type C

  • R563.jpg
  • "Shield-boss with a low dome shaped as a section of a sphere with a very short or no neck and a flat or slanting flange."[PEDERSEN 2014A]:p.98

    Date - From AD 940 to AD 1050+.

    • Sweden, Birka
    Bj 644, Bj 914, Bj 985 (Arbman 1940:Taf. 17:1 & 3)
    Dia:14.2-15.5cm H:4.6-5.3cm

    R565 / Type D1, D2, D3

  • R565.jpg
  • "Roughly conical shield-boss, with or without a pronounced knob at the centre; without a neck and with a flat or slanting flange."[PEDERSEN 2014A]:p.98

    Date - From AD 970 to AD 1050+.

    • Sweden, Birka
    Bj 1035 and one without a grave number (Arbman 1940:Taf. 17:6)
    Dia:14-15cm H:6.2-6.5cm

    Hiberno-Norse / English

    Harrison has defined this type into 2 categories: [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.116

    Irish Sea A Type

  • Type A Boss.jpg
    • England, Cubria: Ormside
    Dia:6¾" H:3½"
    • Isle of Man, : Cronk Moar
    • Scotland, Arran: Millhill, Lamlash
    • Ireland, Dublin: South Great George's Street 2003 (99E414:197:1)
    • Norway, Vestfold: Kaupang, Grave Ka.316
    Only known example outside of Britain and Ireland [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.119.

    Note: see [Ukjent gård] [Gravem] Vikingtid skjoldbule

    Irish Sea B Type

  • Type B Boss.jpg
  • There are 3 known examples:

    • Isle of Man, : Balladoole
    • Scotland, Colonsay: Kiloran Bay.
    Dia:9cm H:11.5cm (top missing)
    • Ireland, Dublin: College Green 1819 (Sirr 266; Boe Wk25)
    Dia:9.4/10.7*cm(c.11.5cm) H:7.0/8.4*cm

    Other related forms

    • Scotland, Islay: Ballinaby

    From Manuscripts

    Irish 'Dublin Type'

  • Shield Boss Kilmainham wk.17 (Boe 1940).JPG
    • Ireland, Dublin: Kilmainham 1845
    D342(W3;Wk10;Boe W10) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.326
    D343(W4;Wk26;Boe Wk18) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.326
    D344(W5;Wk9;Boe Wk26) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.326-328
    D345(W6;Wk17;Boe Wk17) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.328
    D346(W7;Wk11 & 19;Boe Wk11, 36 & 19) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.328
    D347(W8;Wk16;Boe Wk16) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.328-330
    D348(W9;Wk23;Boe Wk23) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.330
    • Ireland, Dublin: Kilmainham 1845pb
    1881:364(Wk24;Boe Wk24) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.385
    1881:365(Wk5;Boe Wk5) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.385
    • Ireland, Dublin: Kilmainham 1848
    W43(Wk15;Boe Wk15) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.391
    • Ireland, Dublin: Kilmainham 1861
    R428(Wk1;Boe Wk1) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.408
    • Ireland, Dublin: Kilmainham (Wakeman)
    Wk6 (Boe Wk6) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.414
    Wk8 (Boe Wk8) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.414
    Wk6 (Boe Wk21) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.417
    • Ireland, Dublin: Islandbridge 1866A
    R2363(Wk13;Boe Wk13) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.434
    R2364(Wk12;Boe Wk12) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.434
    • Ireland, Islandbridge 1866B
    R2361(Wk18; W8;Boe Wk18) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.446
    • Ireland, Dublin: Bride Street 1861
    R434B(Wk14; W8;Boe Wk14) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.510
    • Ireland, Co. Waterford: Woodstown 2004
    02E441:2256:1 [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.666
    • Ireland, : Unprovenanced
    Sirr 184 (W44;Wk22;Boe Wk22) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.669
    • Ireland, : Lagore
    Dawson 623(W42;Wk4;Boe WK4 R2263) [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014]:p.737


    Decorative bosses

    Gold leaf

    A metal shield boss that has been covered in gold leaf.

    Painted Bosses

    A metal shield boss that has been covered in paint.

    To the best of my knowledge no shield boss has been found with traces of paint still adhering to it. Also the painting of bosses seems unlikely as period paints do not have the necessary adhesive properties.


    Arwidsson, Greta (ed.) (1989) Birka II:3 Systematische Analysen der Graberfunde. [Systematic Analysis of the Graves Findings] Birka, Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien: II:3 [ARWIDSSON 1989] *
    Beatson, Peter (n.d.) The Viking Shield from Archeology. [Accessed: 2010]. (Available Online) Peter Beatson [BEATSON (N.D.) A] *
    Bersu, Gerhard and Wilson, David M. (1966) Three Viking Graves in the Isle of Man. The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Servies: No 1 [BERSU & WILSON 1966] *
    Boast, Emma (2012) The Viking Shield in the British Isles: changes in use from the 8th-11th Century in England and the Isle of Man. Unpublished MA. (available online) [BOAST 2012] *
    Härke, Heinrich (1992) In Dickinson, Tania and Härke, Heinrich (1992) Early Anglo-Saxon Shields. [HARKE 1992] *
    Harrison, Stephen H. & Ó Floinn, Raghnall 2014 Viking Graves and Grave-Goods in Ireland. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. Medieval Dublin Excavations 1962-81: Ser.B Vol.11 [HARRISON & Ó FLOINN 2014] ^ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 *
    Hjardar, Kim & Vike, Vegard (2016) Vikings at War. [HJARDAR & VIKE 2016] ^ 1 2 *
    Pedersen, Anne (2014) Dead Warriors in Living Memory. A study of weapon and equestrian burials in Viking-age Denmark, AD 800-1000. Publications from the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology & History Vol. 20:1 1 Jelling Series.. [PEDERSEN 2014A] ^ 1 2 3 4 5 *
    Pollington, Stephen (2006) The English Warrior from the Earliest Times Till 1066. Anglo-Saxon Books [POLLINGTON 2006] *
    Rygh, O. (1885) Norske Oldsager. [Norwegian Antiquities]. Christiana. [RYGH 1885] ^ *
    Skodell, Henry (2008) Schutzausrüstung zur zeit der Schlacht von Hastings [Protective Equipment Present at the Battle of Hastings]. (Available Online) [Accessed: 2011]. [SKODELL 2008] *
    Stephenson, I. P. (2007) The Late Anglo-Saxon Army. Tempus. [STEPHENSON 2007] *