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Make a crown or shield like the ones seen in the Lewis chessmen, which was on show in A History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum at the National Museum in 2017.

Did you know ...The Lewis chessmen were found sometime before 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. It is believed they were made in Norway in the 12th century.

How to make a medieval crown

A medieval crown and shield

The king and queen in the Lewis chessmen wear crowns. Think about what makes a crown precious. Would you have liked to rule in medieval times?

Time: 30 minutes

Skill level: ★ Easy — you may need an adult to help.

What you need:

  • cardboard, coloured or metallic card or paper
  • crayons, textas, pencils or paint
  • decorations such as stickers, glitter, cellophane, felt or silk
  • scissors (remember, these can be sharp, so ask an adult for help)
  • measuring tape or string
  • tape or stapler and staples
  • glue

Steps 1–2

  • Gather your materials. Cardboard makes a strong and flexible base or you could try coloured paper. Experiment with different materials.
  • Measure your head with a piece of string or measuring tape. You can ask a friend or family member to help. Mark the length of your crown on the card.

Steps 3–4

  • Draw the outline of your crown onto the card, after deciding how wide it will be. Cut your design out with scissors, asking for help if you need it.
  • Decorate your crown, remembering that crowns are special! You may like to start by painting your crown or covering it in metallic paper. We used stickers for precious jewels, drew on pearls and stuck coloured paper around the base.

Step 5

  • Once your crown is decorated (and dry if you used paint), bend the two ends towards each other and tape or staple together. Try on your crown and check it out in a mirror.

You might like to make a medieval shield to match your crown!

How to make a medieval shield

Did you know ...The knight in the Lewis chessmen holds a shield. Shields in medieval times often included symbolic coats of arms or showed loyalty to a family, king or duke.

What will the decorations on your shield say about you? How will the shield shape protect your body?

Time: 30 minutes

Skill level: ★ Easy — you may need an adult to help.

What you need:

  • thick cardboard (old boxes are great)
  • coloured paper and card
  • crayons, textas, pencils or paint
  • tape and glue
  • scissors (remember, these can be sharp, so ask an adult for help)

Tip: Find out more about medieval shields. How were shields used? What shape will your shield be? Think about decorations, colours, and what you want your shield to symbolise.

Steps 1–2

  • Gather your materials. Draw an outline of the shield on the cardboard. Our shields are kite shaped, like the ones from the Lewis chessmen. Using scissors, cut out your shield.
  • Decorate your shield. Many were divided into sections. We divided ours with strips of blue paper glued to the front.

Steps 3–4

  • Draw onto paper any other symbols you want to add, then cut them out and glue onto your shield. We chose a dragon. You could find out what dragons or other animals symbolise in different parts of the world. We also added green mountains made of tape to show the landscape where we live
  • You can also draw emblems or symbols directly onto your shield. We used textas to add a red circle and orange crescent. You could represent your family with a coat of arms.

Step 5

An example of how to attach a handle to the back of a shield.
  • Once you have decorated your shield, turn it over and add a handle. Cut a thick strip from your original piece of cardboard. Tape it to the back of the shield, leaving room for your hand or arm.

Test your shield. You might like to make a medieval crown to match!

Share your creation

We’d love to see what you make! Ask an adult if you can send a photo or video to schoolholidays@nma.gov.au

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