SCUTUM COVER 11/19/06
| On the march, the scutum
was protected by a drawstring leather cover. It is made of goat
calf leather, 1 to 2 ounce thickness, usually in two or even three
Tom Kolb's is shown at left. The horizontal seams can be done
those on a tent, as shown on the Leatherworking
Hints page, or with a simpler seam.
The boss is covered by a separate dome-shaped piece, made from a three-quarter circle of leather stitched into a cone with a whip stitch, then soaked and stretched over the boss to give it more of a dome shape. (If your boss is steel, place a plastic bag over it before stretching wet leather over it, to prevent rust!) When sewn in place, the leather dome is often surrounded by a separate ring with a zigzag outer edge.
The edge of the cover is turned back, about 3/4", and sewn down with a simple running stitch to create the drawstring casing. Thread a strong cord through (If you are careful you can fold the leather around the drawstring and stitch it down without stitching through the cord--this will prevent the tedium of threading the cord through the finished casing.) On surviving original examples, the corners are rounded off a little and the casing simply continues around. When I tried this on mine, however, the leather was too stiff at the corner to allow it to "draw down" neatly. Oiling the leather heavily, and softening it by working and flexing probably would have solved most of that, but I trimmed off the corner instead (not too much!).
The ends of the drawstring need to hang out of the casing at one or two places so that it can be tied, so cut slits or holes where needed. (The middle of each side works well.)
Originals often show stitch
where reinforcing strips have been sewn on where the cover folds around
the edge, the areas of heaviest wear.
|When the cover is in place on a curved shield, the casing tends to flop or stand out at top and bottom. Michael Simkins' reconstruction in Warriors of Rome solves this by adding three large buckled straps running from top to bottom, but a simpler system with thongs tying at the middle works just as well.|
| The decoration on a
could take many forms, but was most often based on a table-shaped
with an open-work design. The implication is that colored fabric
was placed under the openwork to contrast with the leather.
that were used included the unit's designation, as on Tom's cover
and Jeff Crean's at right, capricorns, ivy vines, etc. One
from Roomburg had a pair of capricorns flanking the tablet. While
the applique usually does not survive in place on the cover, some
show enough stitch holes to interpret the entire motif--it is possible
that some of these decorations were done complete with stitching, not
an openwork applique.
There can be two or more strips hanging from the bottom of the decoration, presumably having no more function than the apron straps on a belt.
Fleury has a page on making a shield cover, http://www.florentius.com/scutumcover.htm.
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