Scutum Romanum - the Roman Shield


The Roman Shield

The Roman army changed in many ways over the several centuries of its existence. It evolved from a strictly Roman group to a multicultural force, with different branches and classes of soldier.

It's no surprise that the uniform and the equipment of the Roman soldier changed over time, as well.

You've probably heard of the famous Roman Legion. By the time of the Empire, there were approximately 25 legions in arms, each with about 5000 men. The legion was divided into ten cohorts. Each cohort was divided into six centuries, except for the prestigious first cohort, which was divided into five double-sized centuries.

Each century was led by a centurion.

Each legion also had cavalry, auxiliaries, and other specialized forces to support them. Each legion had its own symbols and standards. This resulted in a great variety of different uniforms, types of weapons, and styles of shield.

For me, the classic Roman shield is the one shown here. In the center is a metal boss. Painted on the shield are horns, lightning bolts, eagle wings, and spears. The shield curves back on each side, and is a bit more rounded on the corners than shown in the picture.

This is the shield (or a reasonable facsimile) you'll see most in the war movies about Rome and her legions.


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