A shield for bold knights of old and new!
I am so happy to be sharing our second book in The Magic Tree House series. The Knight Before Dawn (or The Castle of Mystery in the UK) is a story that takes Jack and Annie back to the Middle Ages where they have an adventure meeting a knight in a medieval castle!
This book really caught my daughter’s imagination because we live in Northumberland, a county of England that shares a border with Scotland. There have been many battles over the centuries in this area which means we have more castles than any other county in England! (To find out more about the castles follow here!)
As we looked more into castles, knights and the Middle Ages, we became interested in the colourful shields, tabards and pennants. After reading more about it, we discovered that each knight or wealthy family had their own colours and designs. Each design had a different meaning and were used by all the soldiers, knights and the person in charge to identify family, friends and enemies both on and off the battlefields.
What is Heraldry?
Heraldry is the name of all the different designs, colours and symbols. Because many people could not read at this time, it was an easy way of showing who was who. As families joined together, the shields and symbols were combined to create even more complicated designs.
The basic rules of heraldry are:
1: Ordinaries: Simple shapes that divided the shield up. Not all designs include ordinaries. Ordinaries include crosses, diagonal lines, horizontal and vertical lines, V shapes, triangles and borders around the shield.
2: Traditional Colours: These were blue, red, green, black and purple plus silver and gold.
3: Basic Charges: Simple, bold designs that could used once or as a pattern on the shield. They often included stars, crosses, circles or diamonds.
4: Animal Charges: These were animals, both real and imagined, that would be painted onto the shield or skirt (caparison) that a knight’s horse would wear.
5: Symbolism of Animal Charges: The animal and the pose of the animal was important too. For example: a lion meant bravery and it could be facing towards you, rearing up or walking along!
6: Coat of Arms: When two powerful families joined together, they would often combine their designs, this is where heraldry can become more complicated. All the different symbols, colours and achievements of the families are brought together into one design and often is known as a Coat of Arms.
We were fascinated by all theses different meanings so we decided to make some shields of our own!
Making our Medieval Shields!
Materials and resources: coloured paper, glue, scissors, marker pens, images from magazines, stencils, card.
How we made them:
First we decided on a basic shield shape and cut it out. You could just have a square shield but we wanted to have a curved part at the bottom.
Next we decided on the basic colours and the ordinaries that we would use. We cut these out of coloured paper and stuck them onto our design.
Then we cut out some basic charges from coloured paper and placed these onto our shield. Once we were happy with these, we stuck them onto our design.
Finally we added some animal charges to complete our own Medieval Shield!
More Design Ideas for Your Shield!
Why not try using other colours such as neons or glow in the dark paints? You can use images cut out from magazines or print off some images and cut these out to stick on your shields.
We thought we could use dinosaurs, mermaids or aeroplanes for our designs – what would you choose?
I hope you have enjoyed this week’s Magic Tree House book. Don’t forget to read last week’s article about Dinosaur Teeth and let me know how big your dinosaur teeth are!
Plus join us in two weeks time, when we will be exploring Ancient Egypt with Jack and Annie! See you then!