The Pavise

The first few panels of Linen being applied to the board at Tattershall Castle Living History Event

A Pavise is a large shield used in the later middle ages, by various troops. Especially popular with Crossbowmen, when deployed it offers almost full body protection for the crossbowman whilst loading and shooting.


Our Pavise is constructed of Lindenboards (supplied by Lorifactor),which are glued and doweled boards from lime. When the wood is constructed its strength is not assured and the wood can easily split. The first jobs is to bind the wood together using a linen canvas which is soaked in Rabbit Skin glue, this part is very simular to preparing boards for iconography. The linen is laid across the boards and will bond with some shrinkage which pulls the entire structure tight together. It is also necessary to fit the staples at this stage, the staples will provide the anchor points for the leather straps that will allow the Pavise to be carried easily. The staples were hand forged using charcoal, and then burnt through the wood and then the ends hammered over to prevent them from being pulled out.

The initial outlining of the design, and the start of the fun bit

The first job of gluing the linen onto the Lindenboard was performed as part of a living history display at tattershall castle and the majority of work was completed in 3 days. It was noticed that if the Linen is soaked in the glue, similar to that of Iconography painting, then this had the feel and toughness of fibreglass, and it could be seen that a significant change had occurred in the structural strength of the entire Pavise.

Once the Board was covered in Linen, then the next stage was to Gesso the board. This took several days to complete, finally applying the 10th coat of gesso and then smoothing with a damp cloth. The Gesso was sanded on the front surface and then the board was ready for its outlining. As per iconography, the board was initally outlined with charcoal, and then once a good balance in the design had been acheived, the board was outlined with a mixture of Blue, Red and Yellow egg tempera. The design was then gilded and the design applied with egg tempera paint, prior to varnishing with Shellac.

The finished Pavise