The iconic shield of the Scottish Highlander, the Targe in conjunction with the basket-hilt sword are among the most celebrated symbols of Scottish resistance and nationalism. The targe has a long history in Scotland, and unlike most shields it was not discarded as firearms began to dominate battlefields. Instead the Scots used them in earnest, for the targe could not only block blade and bayonet, but it could deflect some musket bullets and stop grapeshot in its thick wooden frame. The targe doubled as a weapon, for many had a center boss spike making shield bashing potentially fatal. Many Scots also concealed a dirk in their hand behind the shield to give a grim surprise for an unaware foe. In their 18th century conflicts with England, the Scots would adorn their targes with the red cloth and brass buttons of fallen English soldiers. After the climactic Scottish defeat at the Battle of Culloden, the English banned the targe in an attempt to weaken the Scots Gaelic culture.
This Targe is hand-crafted in Seattle by Douglas Shaffer. It is made from quality hardwood plywood and covered with full grain cowhide on the front. The hand-tooled, highly detailed leatherwork has been made in the form of the swirling scrollwork and interlaced knotwork that can be seen on original targes.
The boss is hand-hammered and the nail studs are set by hand. The backing is padded animal hide and fur. Thick leather straps are affixed for the arm and hand and an integrated holster holds a 6 7/8 spike. This spike can be screwed onto the central boss after removing its brass nut for an easy conversion to the fearsome spiked targe. A strap and ring are riveted into the backing so that the targe can be easily hung on a wall.
This particular Targe is dubbed the Kells for its swirling designs were inspired by the Celtic knotwork illustrations on the border of pages within the Book of Kells.