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The Viking Battle Tactic - Shield Wall

It is a cry that will ring loudly and frequently during the Timahoe Heritage Festival – “SHIELD WALL” and immediately one suspects that battle is about to commence! But what is a shield wall?

Discipline & Execution

The Viking Shield Wall was a battle formation used by the warriors during combat. It involved interlocking their shields to create a wall of protection that was almost impenetrable. The Shield Wall was a critical tactic that enabled Viking warriors to win battles, even when outnumbered.

As a defensive tactic it was designed to protect Viking warriors from enemy attacks. To create the Shield Wall, the Viking warriors would stand shoulder-to-shoulder, with their shields overlapping. The first row of warriors would hold their shields at eye level, while the second row held their shields above their heads. The overlapping shields created a wall of protection that was very difficult to penetrate. The Viking warriors would then use their weapons to attack the enemy from behind the Shield Wall.

The Shield Wall required a great deal of discipline and training to execute effectively. The Viking warriors needed to be able to move in unison and maintain their formation under heavy enemy fire. They also needed to be able to communicate effectively, so that they could adjust their formation to respond to ever changing battle conditions.

One of the strengths of the Shield Wall was its ability to neutralize the advantage of enemy cavalry. Horses would be unable to penetrate the wall of shields, and the warriors from within could use their weapons to kill or injure the riders as they attempted to break through.

The Shield Wall was also effective against archers, as the overlapping shields provided protection against the waves of incoming arrows that rained down on top of them. The Shield Wall was particularly effective against enemy infantry, as the warriors inside the wall could use their weapons to attack the enemy while remaining protected behind the shields.

In addition to its defensive capabilities, the Shield Wall could also be used offensively. The Viking warriors could advance as a unit towards the enemy, using it to protect themselves from enemy fire while they closed in for close combat. Once they reached the enemy, they would use their weapons to attack from behind the wall.

The Shield Wall was a critical tactic for Viking warriors, and it played a significant role in their military successes. However, the tactic was not foolproof, and there were several ways in which the it could be overcome. For example, the enemy could use fire, or attack the flanks or rear of the Shield Wall, where the protection of the shields was weaker.

See the Shield Wall

Come along to Timahoe Heritage Festival on June 3rd & 4th 2023, to see the Vikings execute their most famous and successful battle tactic, in a series of reenactments on the grounds of the former monastic settlement, where they first brought plunder, pillage and violence in 919AD. 
Our event is all about celebrating our history  and heritage in a fun filled, family friendly event, that is jam packed with events and activities for all ages!

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