Epic of Beowulf Essay - Shields in the Epic Poem, Beowulf

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Shields in the poem Beowulf

Shields, a defensive weapon mentioned in the poem Beowulf, include a variety of compositions from wood to iron; and this is wholly in accord with archaeological finds. There are a considerable number of references to shields in the poem, making this topic a very relevant one to consider.

“Weapons could be heirlooms, and royal treasuries and armories still preserve arms and weapons from earlier days, so imagination in this area need not be confined to contemporary artifacts (304),” says Catherine M. Hills in “Beowulf and Archaeology.” Before turning to the archaeological evidence, let’s look at the Beowulf poem, where one finds copious references to shields. As Beowulf and his party
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Later this changes, when the hero has to face the fiery dragon which would incinerate a wooden shield; so he has an iron shield made for himself. The shield composition in the poem is consistent with data from The Columbia Encyclopedia: “Shields were made of hide or wood, often reinforced with metal, and could be round, oblong, or rectangular.” Are these references (a small sampling) to shields realistic, or just an imaginative concoction of the poet? “It is remarkable that the elaborate descriptions of the weapons, armor, long-ships, halls, and funeral practices correspond closely to seventh-century archaeological finds in England and Scandinavia” (Chickering 265). “. . . the poem is the product of a great age, the age of Bede, an age which knew artistic achievements of the kind buried at Sutton Hoo . . . (Stanley 3).

Sutton Hoo was the ancestral burial ground of the East Anglian kings, called the Wuffings, from Wuffa. Their father was

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