Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Shield Bosses

7th century
Iron, copper alloy, gold
1984.184.1: Diam. 7 1/2 in. (19.05 cm); D. 3 1/2 in. (8.89 cm); 1984.184.2: Diam. 7 in. (17.78 cm); D. 3 1/2 in. (8.89 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and Bequest of Stephen V. Grancsay, by exchange, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.184.1, .2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 370
Shield bosses were attached to the center of a circular wooden shield. These two are thought to have been made in northern Italy, the heart of the Langobardic Kingdom from the late sixth to the mid-eighth century. The majority of surviving Langobardic shield bosses are made of plain iron. Some, like these examples, are more richly decorated with engraved appliqués of gilt bronze.

The crosses and fish that decorate one of the bosses suggest that its owner was a Christian. The bird-headed spiral on the other boss is an older symbol derived from the Langobards' pre-Christian past.
Ex. coll.: Count Wilczek (Castle Kreuzenstein, Austria); Ruth and Leopold Blumka; Eric Vaule.
Werner, J. "Ein Langobardischen Schild von Ischl a d. Alz." Bayerische Vorgeschichtsblätter 18–19 (1951–52). p. 45.

Koch, R. "Bodenfunde der Volkerwanderungszeit aus dem Main-Tauber Bebiet." Germanische Denkmäler Der Völkerwanderungszeit Serie A, VIII (1967).

Hessen, Otto von. Il Materiale Altomedievale nelle Collezioni Stibbert di Firenze. Ricerche di Archeologia Altomedievale e Medievale, Vol. 7. Florence: All'insegna del Giglio, 1983. pp. 34–35, nos. 155, 156 (similar shield bosses).

Menis, Gian Carlo, and Ermanno Arslan. I Longobardi. Milan: Electa, 1990. nos. IV.62, IV.63, II.206 (similar shield bosses).

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.

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. 126, 209, 358, figs. 11.9, 18.12.

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