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Normally invisible. Spells bouncing off of the shield give off their own light.
Magically blocks spells & physical entities
"You wouldn't believe how many people, even people who work at the Ministry, can't do a decent Shield Charm."
—George Weasley regarding the charm[src]
The Shield Charm (Protego) is a term applied to several varieties of charms. They create a magical barrier to deflect physical entities and spells, in order to protect a certain person or area. Conjurations may sometimes rebound directly off it back towards the caster or in other cases, may ricochet off in other directions or dissipate as soon as they hit the shield.
It's unknown who the inventor of the spell was and when it was invented.
In 1484 in the town of Poppleton, the tyrannical Earl of Paunchley held a jousting match. He insisted that all the nobles for miles around must come to cheer him on at the tournament and "no excuse would be acceptable" for missing the event. But young Edmund Gaddlegate fell out of a tree that day and broke his leg, and his mother put him to bed. The Earl wouldn't hear of anyone staying home, so he dragged Edmund and his mother to the castle, and said the mother had to watch while her child was tied to a horse and forced to compete in the jousting.
The other knights left the tournament "in disgust" at the idea of jousting with a small injured boy, so the Earl vowed that he himself would attack Edmund. But a witch in the crowd named Hannah Cockleford had other ideas. Fed up with the evil Earl, she cast an extremely strong Shield Charm between Edmund and the Earl, who was "squashed flat in his armour" when the Shield Charm knocked him backwards and his horse landed on him. The Earl of Paunchley did not die, but when he came-to he was under the impression that he was a donkey named Hairy Cyril.
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