Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Links you might like to look at.

Scottish Targes, and Sgian Dubhs.




Targe History

Targe from Old Franconian*targa "shield", Proto-Germanic *targo "border") was a general word for shield in late Old English. Its diminutive, target, came to mean an object to be aimed at in the 18th century.

The term refers to various types of shields used by infantry troops from the 13th to 16th centuries. More specifically, a targe was a concave shield fitted with enarmes on the inside, one adjustable by a buckle, to be attached to the forearm, and the other fixed as a grip for the left hand. These shields were mostly made of iron or iron-plated wood. From the 15th century, the term could also refer to special shields used for jousting.

From the early 17th century, until the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Scottish Highlander's main means of defence in battle was his targe. After the disastrous defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden, the carrying of the targe would have been banned, and many would have been destroyed, or put to other uses. Those which do remain appear to be of quite intricate patterns, and are well decorated, indicating that they would have originally belonged to important people.

Targes are generally, but not always, round shields between 18 in and 21 in (45–55 cm) in diameter. The inside of the targe was formed from two very thin layers of flat wooden boards, with the grain of each layer at right angles to the other. They were fixed together with small wooden pegs, forming plywood. The front was covered with a tough cowhide which was often decorated with embossed celtic style patterns. This was fixed to the wood with many brass, or in some cases, silver, nails, and occasionally brass plates were also fixed to the face for strength and decoration. Some targes had center bosses of brass, and a few of these could accept a long steel spike which screwed into a small "puddle" of lead which was fixed to the wood, under the boss. When not in use, the spike could be unscrewed and placed in a sheath on the back of the targe. A Highlander armed with a broadsword in one hand, dagger in the other and a spiked targe on his arm would have been a formidable enemy in close combat.

The back of the targe was commonly covered in deerskin, and a very few had some packing of straw etc. behind this. Some targes, usually those actually used in battle, had their backs covered in a piece of red cloth taken from the uniform of a government soldier (a "Redcoat") that the owner had killed in battle. Although all the old targes show signs of handles and arm straps, of various designs, there is very little evidence to indicate that there was any guige strap for carrying the targe over the shoulder.

The face of a targe typically used two general patterns - concentric circles, or a centre boss with subsidiary bosses around this. There are a few notable exceptions, such as a targe in Perth Museum in Scotland which is of a star design. Although some targe designs appear to have been more popular than others, there is very little to indicate that there ever were "clan" designs. The nearest that one might come to finding a "clan" design is possibly the four identical targes which came from the family armoury at Castle Grant. It appears more likely that targe designs were individual to their owner. During the 1745/46 Jacobite uprising, a William Lindsay, a shieldwright in Perth made hundreds of targes for Charles Edward Stuart's army. He made a distinction in price between an "officer's targe" and an ordinary targe.

Easy Scottish Targe

An easy and cheap way to make a Scottish Targe!

"Please note: this is not for building a historically accurate targe"


Vinyl (2 feet)

[Leather also works, but were making it easy and cheap]

I use "Hobby Lobby", as they have cheap vinyl




[Gorilla glue works great]

Plywood 1/2 inch

Upholstery tacks nails

Center boss

[Candle stick holders work great]

Handle and leather straps

[I find for the handle plastic handle pulls work try eBay]

Leather straps for handle

[Leather belts also work]

Rabbit pelt

[This is for the backing. This is up to you, as Lamb skins and other skins will work as well]

Please note that you can find them very cheap on eBay.

Optional spike for center boss

[Carriage bolts and a T-nut I find works great, too]

Most of these can be found on eBay or at your local hardware store.


Tack Hammer


Optional Grinder for the spike.

Getting started:

Most Targes are from 18 to 20 inches in diameter

(I like 18 or 19 easy to carry)

Cut the wood in a circle

Lay your wood down on the vinyl

[Make sure your wood is in the very middle]

Cut the vinyl make sure you leave several inches to spare

[I leave four inches myself]

Wrap the vinyl around the wood

[Many people cut tabs! A fast way to do it is the pull and tighten method]

Grab your vinyl with your finger, and then pull tight. Put a tack nail to hold it down. On each one,make sure to keep everything straight! Glue can also work but make sure you let it dry good before you repeat.

After you have done that, you can put your backing on next

[I use glue for this]

Add your straps

Decorate the front as you wish with the tack nails

If your adding a spike I find it easier to have a candle stick holder to that already fits your carriage bolt

There are many ways to mount your spike. I place the T-nut over my candle holder, and apply paint to make it match

You also want to make a holder for your spike in the back. This can be done with your vinyl

There are many ways for making a Scottish Targe, but I find this way easy