British Museum

Stop 2    

Bark shieldSurviving conflict Room 1

Natasha McKinney, British Museum, explores the significance of the Bark shield

Shields were used as protection from spears in conflict situations, or during ritual contests held to settle disputes. This shield is known as an elemong, and is connected with the Gweagal people of Botany Bay, on the eastern coast of Australia. It is made of red mangrove (Rhizophora stylosa), which was used to make shields because it was a strong wood, resistant to the impact of weapons, and to insect damage and rot. The shield was used in response to musket fire, during James Cook’s landing at Botany Bay in 1770.