A highly polished early 16th-century Welsh buckler shield.

Investigating a 16th-century Welsh buckler

The question

Centuries of cleaning had left this small shield in a highly polished state. Could XRF provide clues to its original appearance?

Results of analysis

XRF analysis was used to examine many parts of the surface. The raised rings were shown to have originally been tinned, whilst the backing was found to be painted with a (red) lead based compound. The brass rivet heads, despite being of two different shapes, were all of low zinc brass, consistent with the date of the shield.


Analysis helped show that the buckler’s original appearance would have been significantly different from what is seen today, with alternate bands of bright tin and deep red paint.


This work not only enabled us to record a more accurate description of the object, but the results have also been used in a number of presentations as an example of everyday analytical investigations of objects in the Science Lab.

Did you know?

Six Eiffel Towers

During the siege of Sebastopol the British and French armies fired 10,000 tonnes of iron shot, 510,000 round shot, 236,000 howitzer shells and 350,000 mortar shells. That’s a total of about 43,000 tonnes of iron: the equivalent of six Eiffel Towers!