Medieval Shields were developed to shield, or protect, a knight or soldier from the direct blows from the weapons of their enemies. Medieval shields were made of a variety of materials including Hide or animal skins (leather), Bark, Wood, Metal, Leather-covered wood and Wicker or basket work. The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. The Escutcheon (also called scutcheon) was the term used in heraldry for the shield which was displayed in a coat of arms.
Medieval Shield Designs - Purpose
Medieval shield designs were decorated with symbols which were used as a means to recognise a knight when they were jousting at tournaments and on the battlefield. This form of recognition via Medieval shield designs was necessary as the armor worn by a Knight included a visor which completely covered the face. The decoration and colors on a shield, or the shield symbols were therefore highly functional allowing knights to be easily recognised.