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A unique bark shield, thought to have been constructed with wooden laths during the Iron Age, has provided new insight into the construction and design of prehistoric weaponry.
The only one of its kind ever found in Europe, the shield was found south of Leicester on the Everards Meadows site, in what is believed to have been a livestock watering hole.
Analysis - Construction - Shield - Michael - Bamforth
Following analysis of the construction of the shield by Michael Bamforth at the University of York, it became apparent that the shield had been carefully constructed with wooden laths to stiffen the structure, a wooden edging rim, and a woven boss to protect the wooden handle.
Although prior evidence has shown that prehistoric people used bark to make bowls and boxes, this is the first time researchers have seen the material used for a weapon of war.
Outside - Shield - Chequerboard - Decoration - Radiocarbon
The outside of the shield has been painted and scored in red chequerboard decoration. Radiocarbon dating has revealed that the shield was made between 395 and 255 BC.
The shield was severely damaged before being deposited in the ground, with some of the damage likely to have been caused by the pointed tips of spears. Further analysis is planned to help understand if this occurred in battle or as an act of ritual destruction.
Michael - Bamforth - University - York - Department
Michael Bamforth, from the University of York's Department of Archaeology, said: "This truly astonishing and unparalleled artefact has given us an insight into prehistoric technology that we could never have guessed at.
"Although we know that bark has many uses, including making boxes and containers it doesn't survive well in the archaeological record. Initially we didn't think bark could be strong enough to use as a shield to defend against spears and swords and we wondered if it could be for ceremonial use.
"It was only through...
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