Make your own Roman shield
Scutum is the Latin word for shield, and is what a Roman would have called theirs! Early Roman shields were oval and flat. However, by the time that the Romans invaded Britain in AD 43, most shields were rectangular. They were slightly curved, a bit like part of a cyclinder, so that they would stand up.
Roman shields were made of sheets of wood glued together to make the curved shape. They were usually painted red and decorated, often with lightning bolts or eagles' wings. The eagle was the symbol of the Roman army, and the lightning bolt was the symbol of the Roman god Jupiter, who was king of the Gods (and the Roman equivalent of Greek god Zeus).
Try our great activity to make your own Roman shield!
Adult supervision is not required for this activity.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Time Required: 2 hours (plus time for your papier mache and paint to dry)
Cut out a rectangular piece of thick cardboard (from a packing box or similar) that is about 40cm wide and 50cm long. Make the top and bottom of the shield slightly curved (see diagram). Alternatively, you can slightly bend your rectangle to make it curved, like a real Roman shield.
Tear strips of newspaper, and stick it all over one side of your cardboard shield using wallpaper paste. A mixture of flour and water, or PVA glue and water will also work. Make sure you wrap the newspaper around the edges of your shield so that the edge is sealed. Leave your newspaper-covered shield to dry overnight.
Paint the newspaper-covered side of your shield bright red – we used mini rollers, but a paint brush would work too! Leave your painted shield to dry.
Cut out a 10cm square of cardboard for the base of your boss. Use a ruler to help you position this in the middle of your shield, then draw around it.
Choose a design for your shield, or make up your own. Try searching for 'Roman shield designs' on the internet for inspiration! We created a cardboard template from our chosen design to draw around on the shield – this meant that our design was symmetrical.
Position your cardboard template alongside the space for your central boss, and draw around it in pencil. If you are good at drawing, you can draw your design free-hand!
Rachel shows off our finished design in pencil!
Make your boss for the middle of the shield by sticking a yoghurt pot upside down in the middle of your 10cm square of cardboard. Cover it all with newspaper.
Paint your boss silver. We used silver spray paint; if you use spray paint make sure you do it outside or with lots of windows open as it can get smelly!
Paint the design on your shield with gold paint – be careful to stay inside your pencil lines!
Use your black marker pen to outline your design, and add extra details.
Stick your silver boss in the centre of your design.
Use clear varnish to make your shield shiny, and to protect it. Varnish is also quite smelly, so make sure you do it outside or with lots of windows open.
Once the varnish has dried, stick loops of cardboard onto the back of your shield for handles.
- Thick cardboard
- Masking tape
- Wallpaper paste
- Yoghurt pot
- PVA glue or spray adhesive
- Red, gold and silver paints
- Clear varnish
- Paint brushes/mini rollers
- Black marker pen