Highland Targe

August 2, 2022

Lord Ihone Munro, AS XLIX

Project Completed December, 2014

The Highland Targe is historically one of the most popular forms of defense that the Scots brought to antiquity, even though the primary source for the noteriaty actually occurred during the Jacobite rebellion, leading to its eventually being outlawed (post-SCAdian period of study, around 1746) and repurposed into things like lids for barrels.

Within our period however, the round shield is thought to  have been first developed by the Spanish1 and used widely by infantry between the 13th and 16th centuries. The particular image to the right is credited as the “earliest dated example of the Highland Targe” with the date 1623 and the letters “DMK” (for Donald MacKay) on the center boss. Since the date is so close to the turn of the century, I would have to assume that similar pieces did exist prior in late period – yet did not fare as well as this particular piece (which actually does have slash marks through it). 

Semantically, the primary construction of the targe had a laminated hardwood core, where multiple layers were placed at a 90 degree angles to increase durability. Leather was then wrapped around the wooden core and held in place with nails or tacks.  In my case, I used a laminated table top that was of a similar scale (18″ diameter), but of pine instead of hardwood.  Since I’ll be utilizing the shield on the rapier field instead of heavy, I think that the actual material should hold up well enough.  The design itself is a celtic styled cross, and I utilized tacks of a bronzed finish in order to replicate some complimentary patterning. The embossing within the leather face was created using a series of wedged leather tools after being cut with a swivel knife and a modeling spoon to smooth out the line work.  Shading was done using a diamond patterned shading tool.  Once the carving and tooling was completed, I used an upholstery grade leather for a liner and an antique finish for the surface area prior to sealing with a wax based conditioner.