Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Shield Boss

late 4th century
Gallo-Roman (found in Vermand, France)
Iron, silver, glass
H. 6 1/4 in. (16 cm); Diam. 7 7/8 in. (19.99 cm)
Shields-Parts of
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
This boss, or umbo, was originally attached over a hole in the center of a circular or oval wooden shield and protected the hand of the person holding it. The shield was carried by the grip (accession number 17.192.142a–c), which was riveted across the hollow center of the shield on the inner side. These objects come from the tomb of a military official in Vermand, France, an area known in the fourth century as Gaul, which was then a province of the Roman Empire. Other finds from the same tomb, including a belt buckle, a decorative plaque, and the fittings from a spear shaft, are displayed in one of the Metropolitan Museum’s galleries of early medieval art.
Vermand, Aisne, northern France; ex coll.: Albert Jumel, Amiens, Boulanger, France; Stanislas Baron, Paris, France; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York.
Boston. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Romans & Barbarians," December 17, 1976–February 27, 1977, no. 104b.

Mainz. Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum. "Gallien in der Spätantike. von Kaiser Constantin zu Frankenkönig Childerich," October 9, 1980–January 4, 1981.

Eck, Theophile. "Le Cimetière gallo-romain de Vermand (Aisne)." Bulletin Archeologique du Comite des traveaux historiques (1887). pp. 184-201 (describes site and excavation; gives inventory of objects found), p.186 (says tombs date from end of the IV century; burials stop in 407, and last medallions are those of Honorius; says absence of soldier graves indicates a civil cemetery).

Eck, Theophile, Jules Pilloy, and A Jumel. "Le tombeau militaire de Vermand." Bulletin Archeologique du Comite des traveaux historiques (1887). p. 215 (follows Eck in dating and description of find), pp. 216-221 (discusses MMA pieces), pl. I at back of volume (ill. MMA pieces).

Pilloy, Jules. "Coup d'oeil general sur les decouvertes d'antiquites prehistoriques, gauloises, romaines, merovingiennes et carlovingiennes faites dans le department de l'Aisne depuis 1858." In Congres archeologique de France. France, 1887. pp. 135-140 (describes findings at Vermand and dates them; pp. 136-138 (describes our pieces).

Pilloy, Jules. Etudes sur d'anciens lieux de sépultures dans l'Aisne 2. Vol. 2. Saint-Quentin: Triqueneaux-Devienne, 1895. pp. 38-51 [Not in MMA, seen by W.H. Forsyth].

Molinier, Émile, Paul Frantz Marcou, and Roger Marx. Exposition universelle de 1900: l'art français des origines à la fin du XIXe siècle. Vol. 2. Paris: Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts, 1900.

Boulanger, Claude. Le Mobilier funeraire Gallo-Romain et Franc en Picardie et en Artois. Paris, France, 1902–1905. p. xxv (ill. umbo found at Misery, in Peronne Museum to be compared with ours.).

Boulanger, Claude. Le mobilier funéraire gallo-romain et franc en Picardie et en Artois. Paris, France, 1902–1905. pl. 19 (ill. objects found in military tomb), p. xiv, pp. xxiv-xxv, pp. 45-50, p.50.

Ricci, Seymour de. Catalogue of a collection of Merovingian antiquities belonging to J. Pierpont Morgan. Paris, France: C. Berger, 1910. pls. X-XI (ill. our pieces), pp. 28-31 (gives brief history of find, says formerly in collection of Jumel of Amiens; gives description of objects, nos.141-146).

Leeds, E.T. Early Anglo-Saxon Art and Archaeology. Oxford, UK, 1936. pp. 4,5,11 (gives comparative study of decorative motives).

Salin, Edouard, and Albert France-Lanord. Rhin et Orient. Paris: P. Geuthner, 1943. pp. 99–101, 122, 195, figs. 12a, b.

Forsyth, William Holmes. "Provincial Roman Enamels Recently Acquired by the MMA." The Art Bulletin 32 (1950). p. 306 (compares double celtic trumpet pattern on La Guierche vase [MMA 47.100.5] to that on rectangular plaque [17.192.145]).

Werner, Joachim. "Zur Entstehung der Reihengräberzivilisation." Archaeologia Geographica (1950). pp. 23-32 (cites IV century graves of Frankish military leaders in north Gaul as leading to development of Merovingian "Reihengräber"; cities Veramnd find as probably that of a Praefecti laetorum mentioned in the Notitia dignatatum...(See object card).

Rorimer, James J., and William Holmes Forsyth. "The Medieval Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12 (1954). p.124, second from right (ill.).

Grancsay, Stephen V. "The New Galleries of European Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 14, no. 9 (May 1956). p. 207 (mentioned), p. 205 (ill.).

Gricourt, Jean. Trésors monétaires et plaques-boucles de la Gaule romaine: Bavai, Montbouy, Chécy. XIIe Supplément à Gallia. Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1958. pl. IX, L (ill. our large mount, 17.192.145). [Not in MMA, seen by W. H. Forsyth].

Grancsay, Stephen V. "A Viking Chieftain's Sword." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 17, no. 7 (March 1959). ill. on cover.

Blair, Claude. "The Emperor Maximilian's Gift armour to King Henry VIII and the Silvered and Engraved Armour at the Tower of London." Archaeologia, or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity 99 (1965). pp. 1-94.

Jupe, Margaret. Romans & Barbarians. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1976. p. 74, no. 104b (called Gallo-Roman, late 4th century A.D. ill.).

Coquelle, J. La Memoire de Vermand, edited by Dalmanio. Alencon (Orne), 1985. pp. 67-75 (17.192.141 and .143-146 are illustrated on pp. 72 and 73.).

Schorsch, D., Claude Blair, and Helmut Nickel. "The Vermand Treasure: A Testimony to the Presence of Sarmatians in the Western Roman Empire." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal 21 (1986). pp. 17-40.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer 1991). pp. 10–11, 64, ill.

Society of Antiquaries of London. Early Anglo-Saxon Shields. London, UK, 1992. pp. 1-94.

Dickinson, Tania Marguerite, and H. Härke. Early Anglo-Saxon Shields. Vol. 110. London: Society of Antiquaries of London, 1992. pp. 1-94.

Brown, Katharine R., Dafydd Kidd, and Charles T. Little, ed. From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. pp. 86, 351; fig. no. 8.12.

Related Objects

Shield Boss and Grip

Date: late 4th century Medium: Iron, silver, glass Accession: 17.192.141, .142a–c On view in:Gallery 370

Shield of Henry II of France (reigned 1547–59)

Date: ca. 1555 Medium: Steel, gold, silver Accession: 34.85 On view in:Gallery 374

Two Shield Bosses

Date: 7th century Medium: Iron, copper alloy, gold Accession: 1984.184.1, .2 On view in:Not on view

Horseman's Shield (Targe)

Date: early 15th century Medium: Wood, leather, gesso, silver, paint Accession: 30.101 On view in:Gallery 370

Shield for the Field or Tournament (Targe)

Date: ca. 1450 Medium: Wood, leather, linen, gesso, pigments, silver Accession: 25.26.1 On view in:Gallery 373