Ancient Celts

28 January, 2010

The first batch of Ancient Celts: two chariots, some adolescent skirmishers, some British light horse and a warband. The photos were taken in bright sunshine, so the contrast is a little too high.

I’ve finally finished the Celts that I started some six weeks ago. If I hadn’t played a game of DBA against Joel’s Marians the other day they’d still be partially finished, with my attention focused on other armies. I’ve based the two chariots, an element of light horse and the two elements of adolescent skirmishers. I’ve also based one of the two warband elements, but I’ll do the other one when I’ve finished painting the rest of the army. One of the figures in it is bare-chested, and I need him to mix with my naked fanatics, which I’m mixing in with some more demure chaps that have gone topless, but kept their strides on!

Note the lefty light horseman on the right!

I got one pack of naked fanatics and by using one of the figures from the foot command I can get three 3Wb elements from it. That means I’m basing the command as 3Wb, as I can’t see the advantage of making it 4Wb (it offends against my sense of order when the rest of the foot are 3Wb).

The first warband. I like the way the VVV transfers came out.

These are the first figures I’ve done using the head-mounted magnifying glass, and it certainly makes a difference. I found putting stripes on their clothes quite easy, something I’m sure I couldn’t manage without the magnification. I painted the chariots in pieces before assembling them, something I won’t do again. I also glued the shields on after everything was painted, which I will do again, as I reckon it’s easier. I used a lighter wash this time, one made with the GW chestnut ink. I got a bit fancy and used a black wash on the steel armour and and a darker brown on the reds. I think it was worth the effort. The CB figures certainly paint up well.

Another angle on the mounted elements. The chariots have been painted in pretty subdued colours (these Celts aren't into paint, apparently!)

Next to be painted are four elements of 3Wb (including a foot command element), one more 2LH and two 2Ps (not really necessary, but quick). Then I’ll be ready to face Joel’s Marians with an Ancient British army.

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Today I caught up with the only other DBA gamer in Auckland I know, Joel, who’s been up here from Christchurch for a year now, but before the holidays was too snowed under with work to catch up for a game. We’re hoping we can have some regular games this year, which will be lots of fun. Joel was keen to use his Marians, which he’d painted over the break, and I was interested to try out a pike army, as I’d previously only fought against them. Therefore, Joel brought along figures to make a late Ptolemaic army, one that might have fought the Romans in Egypt after Actium. It consisted of a good pike block (6x4Pk), a 3Kn general, a 2LH, a El, a 4Wb, a 3Ax and a 2Ps. It faced Marians with a 8x4Bd (1 was the commander), 2x3Cv, 1x3Ax and 1x2Ps.

In this ‘what-if’ battle of Ptolemaic Egyptians against Octavian’s battle-hardened civil war veterans, I was the defender, and being littoral, I set up the waterway, a steep hill and a small marsh. Joel got the edge he wanted and any chance of me getting myself into trouble by being tempted to try a littoral landing was removed. I deployed with the mounted on the left of my phalanx and the light troops and warband on the right. I figured the mounted would have clear terrain in front of them and the other would do well on the hill.

Joel deployed his legions in a line with slinger support for the general and the auxilia on the hill. He kept his cavalry to the rear. Rather foolishly I didn’t see any need to swap any elements (only later did I realize that the elephant would be better on the other flank where the cavalry would advance).

Initial Deployment: Ptolemaics on the left, Marians on the right.

On the first turn both sides advanced, and the Roman cavalry set out to come around the hill to attack my right flank. I decided to counter this by getting the elephant to move across to meet them; however, this left my general on the left flank somewhat exposed.

Turn 1: The Egyptian elephant starts to move behind the phalanx to counter the Roman cavalry (out of view).

The advance continued with the Egyptians getting good PIPs (6).

Turn 2: Nellie continues to make his way behind the phalanx.

Things slowed down as the Roman cavalry passed out of command control behind the hill and the Egyptians entered a PIP drought (2 PIPs for each of the next turns, apart from one ‘3’).

Turn 3: The Roman cavalry come into view and the elephant hogs all the PIPs in an attempt to meet them.

The Egyptian light troops advance onto the hill, ZOCing the Roman cavalry, whose advance uses all of the Romans’ 2 PIPs.

Turn 4: The Egyptian archers advance to slow the Roman cavalry.

Facing this new threat, the Roman cavalry retire a little and deploy into line, hogging all the Roman PIPs. The Egyptian elephant also hogs all the PIPs as it continues to advance.

Turn 5: The battlelines are frozen as all the attention is on the Egyptian right flank.

The Roman cavalry think better of continuing to advance, and retire a little further. The Roman battleline expands as the auxilia retires to line up with them. The elephant continues to approach them.

Turn 6: The elephant forms a line with the light troops on the hill.

Still starved of PIPs the Egyptians respond to the approaching legions, by withdrawing their Galatians to line up with the phalanx, which wheeled and advanced.

Turn 7: The lines get closer.

For the next two turns the lines inched a little closer.

Turn 8: The lines are nearly in contact.

The Romans are uncharacteristically low on PIPs (1 PIP), while the Egyptians continue their drought, so neither side charge.

Turn 9: The Egyptians try to get their thureophoroi to help on the hill.

With 6 PIPs the Romans charge, they put the Egyptian LH to flight (and it takes no further part in the battle), leaving the general overlapped against the Roman general. My general rolls a 1 and is destroyed. On the hill, however, the dice are reversed, and my light archers roll a 6 and force the Roman auxilia to recoil. This gives the Galatians all the help they need as they cut up the legionaries in bad going in front of them. Elsewhere, the phalanx acquits itself well, with one ‘stick’ and two recoils.

Turn 10 (Romans): Oh dear! The general didn't put up much of a fight. Lucky those Galatians and archers were more serious!

The now leaderless Egyptians seemed galvanized, getting 6 PIPs (though everything cost 1 PIP more now). The Galatians flanked the legionaries to their left and the phalanx advanced on their enemies. The auxilia moved up to support those brave archers. Again the phalanx acquited itself well, destroying the flanked element and recoilling the other two. It was now 2-1 to the Egyptians, who were putting up a desperate fight.

Turn 10 (Egyptians): The Galatians contribute to more dead Romans.

With only 2 PIPs the Roman leader decides to flank the right of the phalanx, but is refuffed in a fierce fight (actually he’d rolled a succesion of 1’s!). The Egyptians got to keep fighting!

Turn 11 (Romans): The Roman flank attack on the phalanx fails.

The Egyptians have 4 PIPs (so the same as the 2 PIPs they’d had for most of the game!). They decide to drive forward with the phalanx. This time the Romans regains some composure and both combats were ‘sticks’.

Turn 11 (Egyptians): Stalemate against the phalanx.

This time the Roman commander attacks the rear rank of the phalanx, removing the support for element in front. This is unable to recoil and is destryed (actually, I think it was doubled). Elsewhere, the stalemate continues.

Turn 12 (Romans): The Romans even the score. In the foreground their auxilia has retired, as has their reserve element of legionaries.

The Egyptians are able to flank another element of legionaries, but cannot do much else. They win this combat, and are recoiled against the general.

Turn 12 (Egyptians): The Egyptians make it 3-2.

The Romans now fall upon the disorganized phalanx, flanking the surviving rear element on the left and attacking the rear element of the one that had flanked on the right. It was all over; unsupported pike against blade is ugly, and the Galatians prevented the element on the right from recoiling.

Turn 13 (Romans): Legionary tactics finally triumph over the phalanx in a bloody fight.

  • Review:

This was my first time using pikes and I now see the problem of supporting their flanks. If I had not tried to redeploy the elephant and just piled in on the Romans, I might have done better, but would I have been able to cause enough damage before the cavalry arrived? That said, if I had piled in, Joel might never have had the luxury of getting them anywhere (worth remembering!).

Though I didn’t know I’d get such consistently bad PIPs, it probably isn’t a great idea to move an elephant on its own! Once I had no general, however, I couldn’t complain about my PIP rolls, which kept me in the game.

I learnt a bit about how to attack pikes. If possible attack the rear rank! That’s what destroyed two of my elements.

Overall, it was lots of fun, I look forward to another game next week. Joel said he’ll look at getting together a Mithridatic army to face those Marians, while I will get busy with my Celts (Dwarves may have to wait after all!).

Another dragon

24 January, 2010

Sinister Green Dragon.

Well, inspired by a game of HOTT the other day and a chance comment on Fanaticus about my present dragon, I decided to paint the Splintered Light dragon that I got last year. I’m pleased with how it’s come out. It was a bit of a hassle gluing on the wings, as I soon found that superglue was not strong enough. I drilled out the wings and the shoulders and joined them with wire and Araldite two-part epoxy. They weren’t totally correctly lined up, but after I undercoated them you’d hardly know, and I was likely to make a bigger mess with green stuff trying to fix it.

I decided to make it green to fit in with his goblin buddies. I used a base coat of ‘Snot Green’ mixed with Silver and then did the scales ‘Scaly Green’ (what else!) mixed with ‘Boltgun Metal’ and the spine and wing bones ‘Dark Angel Green’ mixed with Gold. I finished it with a black Klear wash.

The other side.

It could possibly do with a deeper base, as its head extends out from the front somewhat. However, attacks from the sides and behind could also get problematic with the tail sticking out and the wings being very wide. You can see how big it is when it’s next to my other dragon (who looks very cuddly by comparison!).

The Green Dragon meets the cute Red one (oops, lost his tail!).

I’m planning to do some more HOTT figures. I’m going to paint two elements of beasts (giant boars). These will be part of a Dwarven army that I’ll aim to finish next: I need to do a hero and two more elements of blades; otherwise I’m planning some halfling allies (one element each of shooters and lurkers) and some artillery. The final army will be:

4xBd (1=cmd)
1xHr
2xSh
1xArt
1xLu
0-2xFl (eagles)
0-2xBs (boars)

I’ve got more blades and shooters I could paint, but this would be enough for a bare minimum, and it wouldn’t take too much work. I quite like the idea of having one element of boars and the halfling lurkers to anchor one flank in bad going and having one element of eagles as a mobile reserve. It’d be good to have an army to face the goblins that wasn’t a composite of various humans (part of the problem is that I’m light on mounted to make most of my human armies interesting).

The dragon against his goblin allies for comparison of scale.

Anyway, I’ve finally finished an element this year (I should get those Ancient Britons done any time soon!).

  • Painting Progress

I’ve not managed much painting for a while now, and that’s likely to continue for another month. I’ve managed to get a ‘head mounted magnifying glass’ on TradeMe for $1 (+ $9 postage!). The light on it was broken and hanging loose, so they sent me another one, which had the same problem. I didn’t want to point this out (and get yet another one!), as it works fine with a bit of glue and now I have two of them for all of $10. The light is actually quite useful, removing any shadows on what I’m working on. I’ve been using the 1.8 times magnification, as any more has too close a focal length, but I do have 3.5 times for special jobs (drilling hands, perhaps). I’d tried out something similar while Stephen was here before Christmas. His were lighter and didn’t have a visor, so I used them like reading glasses, looking down into them and looking over them the rest of the time. I have to do the reverse of this now. It may take a little getting used to, as I seem to crick my neck to look into the lens.

  • Army Ranking

A while ago I devised a spreadsheet that allows me to record each battle I play and keep a tally of wins and losses. It’ll become more interesting as the King Magnus Campaign develops. Currently the only victory for the Anglo-Normans, was as part of a BBDBA game in Christchurch; somewhat surprising, as they’re probably the strongest army! The weakest, the Norse Irish, are yet to lose!

Army Played Won Lost Drew

Normans

2 1 1 0

Anglo-Normans

6 1 5 0

Anglo-Danes

3 1 2 0

Anglo-Norse

3 3 0 0

North Welsh

4 3 1 0

South Welsh

2 1 1 0

Norse Irish

4 4 0 0

Scots Isles and Highlands

3 0 3 0

Pre-feudal Scots

4 2 2 0

Vikings

1 0 1 0

Picts

10 4 3 3
  • A little bit of HOTT

My nephews, visiting from France, were keen to see my figures in action, so I got two of them fighting a HOTT battle. The Goblins had 2x3Wb (1=cmd), 6x7Hd, 2xLu (spiders), 2x3Rd (wolf riders), 1xBh (Trolls), 1xDr. They faced an army of 4x4Bd (1=cmd) (Islemen), 2xFl (hippogriff riders), 2x2Rd (centaurs), 1xHr (centaur), 1xMg.

The Goblins were defending and formed up the hordes in depth in the centre around their commander, and the trolls flanked by wolf riders on a hill to their left in front of the stronghold. The spiders held the right flank, as there was a wood there, which the humans would not want to enter.

The humans formed up with the centaurs facing the Goblin infantry, the Islemen facing the hill with the magician behind them and the hippogriff riders in reserve.

Luke, leading the Goblins had to wait a long time for the dragon to arrive, during this time his brother Richard taunted him by rolling a succession of sixes for PIPs! With these PIPs Richard decided to block the goblin infantry with his fliers and move the centaurs around to support the right flank of the Islemen against the troops on the hill.

Eventually, tiring of having nothing to fight, the Goblin leader broke out and attacked an element of Islemen, destroying them. The fight on the hill started just as the dragon arrived. It resulted in the trolls being destroyed (they had hippogriff riders to their rear), but the wolf riders either only recoiled, or fought off a flank attack.

The dragon quickly destroyed one of the hippogriff riders, but in Richard’s turn he was able to attack the Goblin chief with his wizard while they were flanked by the other hippogriff riders.

With hindsight, I realized that the goblins were not pinned by the fliers; they could pass underneath them, which might have changed how the battle played out. It was never wise for their commander to leave his flanks exposed when facing fliers, but he was somewhat running out of options. It might have been better had he put his hordes and general on the hill and the mounted elements in the centre.

All in all, a fun game. I should try to play HOTT more often, as I’m not really up on the rules, especially for fliers, and young players are not very patient if I stop to consult the rules too much.

It’s possible that the reason Gruffudd ap Cynan did not show up to support William in Mercia was reports of an Irish invasion fleet heading for Powys (that and the unseemly shortness of the battle!). Powys in this campaign includes what is actually Gwynedd (Gwynedd is Conwy = Gwynedd below the Conwy), otherwise it would have no sea access. As it is, it’s curious that Angelsey, often attacked from places such as Man, being part of the capital, can only be approached by land.

The reports were well founded. Turlough Mór O’Connor looked to restore Irish influence in Wales after a hiatus of some 500 years! With a bad-going army his options for where he could attack were a little limited, but the Welsh seemed a reasonably attractive proposition, and if successful, he’d secure one flank of his kingdom. There were no allies to be had on either side; on further consideration the English could have sent help to the Welsh, and probably should have, but Henry was still trying to establish his control over his kingdom. Otherwise, the Islemen had plans to attack the Scots, so were not free to weigh into the conflict (assuming Magnus let them pass through Man).

Turlough’s army consisted of 6x3Ax (1=cmd), 2x4Bd and 4x2Ps. He was met by 1x3Cv (cmd), 2x4Bd, 6x3Sp(L), 1x3Bw and 2x2Ps. This was the first outing of the new Light Spear.

Gruffudd met the invaders inland in Powys at Dinorben, the site of an old fort. The armies drew up with a road between them, two steep hills on opposite flanks as well as two woods also opposite each other. Gruffudd deployed himself flanked by his Ostmen mercenaries in the centre of his line. On the left flank he had three light spear and his archers and on his right flank he had the skirmishers and three light spear in two columns hoping to occupy the hill in front of them.

Turlough deployed with his Ostmen on the road with kerns as rear support, three bonnachts on the hill to the right of them and the rest of the army in a line stretching into the wood to his left. Most of the kerns were on this flank.

Initial Deployments: Turlough on the left and Gruffudd on the right.

Turlough started well (6 PIPs) and advanced two kerns forward to contest the hill on his left flank. Gruffudd reacted to this by sending forward skirmishers to contest the hill and advancing his light spear onto it. The combat between the psiloi was a stalemate.

Turn 1: Gruffudd skirmishers fight uphill against kerns on the hill.

Turlough, with 1 PIP, retires the kerns not yet in combat, while the other kerns are pushed back by the skirmishers downhill from them. Gruffudd moves his other skirmishers up in support of the others and continues to advance onto the hill. The rest of his line also advances.

Turn 2: Gruffudd seems to be gaining control of the hill on his right flank.

Turlough sees an opportunity to attack the skirmishers on the hill and attacks one with flank support. In a fierce fight these are destroyed.

Turn 3 (Turlough): Turlough inflicts the first casualties.

Gruffudd reacts energetically to this setback (6 PIPs), attacking one of the kerns with skirmishers supported by light spear. This is again a stalemate. He also wheels his central troops towards the hill (he used the road for the outside element in a manoeuvre that I’d later decide was not legal).

Turn 3 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd can't get traction against the kerns on the hill.

Turlough now moves his other kern up to support the one on the hill, with the advantage of being uphill they succeed in destroying the last of Gruffudd’s skirmishers (2+4 v 1+1). With this loss, Turlough kerns need only worry about the archers on the other flank and Gruffudd’s cavalry.

Turn 4 (Turlough): Turlough goes two up in what should have been an unequal contest on the hill.

Gruffudd, now feeling less confident (1 PIP), moves the rear light spear element accross to create an echelon effect on the hill.

Turn 4 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd is still wrestling for control of the hill.

Now it’s Turlough’s turn to run out of steam (1 PIP) and he attacks the front element of spear with his kerns in a fierce but inconclusive combat (2+6 v 2+6).

Turn 5 (Turlough): More fighting on the hill.

Gruffudd finally gets his spearmen into position on the hill and drives the kerns back. Unfortunately Sp(L) are not Ax and the best he can manage is to force some of them to flee.

Turn 5 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd can feel some satisfaction in ridding the hill of pesky kerns.

Next follows a period of manoeuvre, where the rest of the Irish start to advance and the Welsh left flank tries to catch up with the centre. On the hill on spear advances, hoping to flank the kerns next turn.

Turn 6: The Irish begin to advance

The Irish continue to advance, while Gruffudd, struck by indecision (1 PIP), decides to advance the spear up the road to support his centre.

Turn 7: The battlelines get closer.

While the Irish move closer, Gruffudd decides to charge. He manages only one casualty, an element of Bonnachts unable to recoil. Turlough had foiled his plan to remove the psiloi support on Turlough’s command element by shifting it in behind Turlough. The commanders met at equal odds.

Turn 8: The Welsh charge, and succeed in destroying one element.

Turlough, however, fights back and his Ostmen cut down an element of light spear. Turlough himself forces Gruffudd and his retinue to recoil.

Turn 9 (Turlough): The Irish have the Welsh on the point of breaking.

Gruffudd can really only hope to get lucky against the Irish commander, but fails again, being forced to recoil before a hail of javelins.

Turn 9 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd is driven back again.

Turlough now finishes off the Welsh when his Ostmen destroy their counterparts who are overlapped on both sides. The Welsh break and run.

Turn 10: Viking mercenaries fighting for Gruffudd are the last of his casualties before the Welsh break.

  • Aftermath

Gruffudd retires to Gwynedd with his battered army. He will be hoping Henry of England sees fit to support him if the Irish attack again. Turlough’s army is largely unscathed and he will be looking to finish the Welsh off in the summer. Henry and some knights could really change the complection of this encounter, and assuming he wants Welsh support against the Northumbrians, there are good odds he will try to help his ally.

Gilledomman of the Isles will take note of this battle and hope that he can win against the Scots, as he fully expects to see Turlough’s army in Antrim before long.

  • Review

Gruffudd lost the battle in his reaction to the advance of the kerns onto the hill. He rushed to attack them, when he could have waited for the light spear to get into position against them and used the skirmishers for flank support. He also put himself at a disadvantage by advancing his centre (that illegal road movement when he wheeled was not to his advantage!). If he’d waited to gain control of the hill his centre would have been able to wait for the Irish to advance at a disadvantage; the battle in the centre was at long odd for him.

Light spear will take some getting used to. They have no advantage against the Irish, who have no mounted and they are weaker than regular spear in GGo. Still I would attribute Gruffudd’s loss to them, but to some poor tactical decisions.

This was the first battle in a while that was decided by the clash of the main battlelines. The last two have been won before they met.

Painting Progress in 2009

2 January, 2010

It’s not since the end of September that I’ve posted a graph on what I’ve painted and what I’ve bought. This is probably as it’s looking pretty ugly: lots bought and little painted. In fact in December I didn’t manage to finish any figures, though I started a few. I spent most of my painting time preparing figures. Most of those I bought are now ready to paint. It’s just a matter of getting started on them! I’ve finished the shields of some CB Celts and all of the figures apart from their clothes, so they shouldn’t take long. I should make finishing them my priority!

On a more positive note, I can look back at a lot of finished armies this year. Starting in February last year, I’ve painted up a variety of fantasy figures for HOTT including a complete Goblin army. I had two DBA armies going into the year, Anglo-Danes and Normans. I had done a few figures that could make these into Anglo-Normans (provided the knights didn’t dismount) and Pre-feudal Scots. I’d also done a few sample elements of other armies. Now I’ve completed a Norse Irish, a Pre-feudal Scots, a Viking, a Scots Isles and Highlands and two Welsh armies (North and South). So, though I tend to look at what is waiting to be painted, it’s easy to forget how much I have done!

King Magnus’ ambition to be ruler of all the British Isles led him to declare war on William Rufus’ Anglo-Norman kingdom in the south of England. Magnus challenged William for control of the province of Mercia, a challenge that the Norman accepted. Magnus’ voyage from Man was uneventful, as was that of his ally Angus of Scotland. His forces consisted of his huscarls (3x4Bd), household knights (1x3Kn), fyrd spear (7x4Sp) and archers (1x2Ps). Angus came with 1x3Cv, 1x2LH and 1x2Ps.

William met the invaders at a place where a road forded the river Avon, a place called Stratford. His army consisted of knights (4x3Kn), spear (5x4Sp), crossbowmen (1x3Cb) and archers (2x2Ps). In addition he had the promise of assistance of Gruffudd of Wales, who hearing that the Scots were assisting the Northumbrians, elected to help the English lest the Northumbrians grow too strong. He came with 1x3Cv and 2x2Ps.

The battlefield was level, apart from the river and the road and a wood and a low hill that faced each other across the road. Due to pre-battle manoeuvring, Magnus managed to meet William from the direction he desired, securing the hill to his own advantage. William deplyed his entire army on the right of the river with his spear in the centre and knights on each flank. The archers and crossbowmen were in reserve.

Magnus deployed with his huscarls in the centre, the knights in reserve and the fyrd on each flank. He expected the Scots to arrive from the same direction as him, while the Welsh would arrive on his right flank.

Initial Deployment: William on the left and Magnus on the right.

On the first turn Magnus’ entire host advanced in a line, while the English army, lacking direction (1 PIP) could only advance some of their army. Neither of the allies arrived.

Turn 1: the two lines start to close.

On the next turn it was Magnus’ turn to lack PIPs (1 PIP); therefore he held back the knights, who were going to be used on one of the flanks. William was more active (5 PIPs), and contracted his line on the right to let the knights advance. Both sides continued to wait for their allies.

Turn 2: William's knights move to the front.

On the third turn Magnus wheeled his line on the left and extended it on the right. William went to investigate the river, discovering that it was paltry. Angus arrived and deployed on the left flank, on the other side of the river. Gruffudd seemed close behind (5 PIPs), but William had to keep waiting.

Turn 3: the Scots arrive as William crosses the Avon.

On the next turn Magnus dithered (1 PIP), opting to continue his advance. William brought all his knights over the river and sent forward archers to delay the enemy’s advance. Angus, keen for a scrap (6 PIPs), sent his light horse forward to delay the king and hurried after them. The Welsh still did not show.

Turn 4: Scots light horse face off against the English king.

Then suddenly it was all over. Magnus continued his advance, recoiling some archers, and William decided to attack the impudent Scots horse. The odds seemed very good (1/3 chance of destroying them, with only a 1/12 chance of being destroyed), but these Scots were in a fell mood and William, advancing ahead of his men, was unhorsed and killed by the quick-moving Scots (5+2 v 2+6). His household troops fled and the battleline began to waver and retreat. In the retreat two elements of 4Sp were destroyed (reflecting the casualties caused by the loss of a C-in-C).

Turn 5: Angus' light horse crow over the body of the English king.

  • Aftermath

The Scots earned 2 prestige points for their victory. The English, in disarray, retreated from Mercia, which the Northumbrians took possession of. They then sent for William’s brother, Henry, in Normandy and prepared for more fighting in the summer.

The Northumbrians could advance on England proper in the next season, but they would be without the support of the Scots, who can only support within two moves of their army. There was a bit of a diplomatic incident over the body of William. It was reported that it was decapitated and the Scots would not give it back. The Normans said this was barbarous and unchivalrous behaviour. The Scots denied this and said it was typical of the Normans to make such claims, reminding them that on the contrary the Scots had been a Christian people for a good deal longer than the Normans, whose ancestors were not long ago committing pagan atrocities across Europe. Such a barb, however, got at their allies the Northumbrians, not long Christians either, and all round tempers flared.

Stories abounded as to why William had crossed the Avon; one that gained a good deal of credence was that he’d spotted a fine looking hind, and being a keen huntsman had set off in chase of it. The Scots got to it first and an argument ensued over whose catch it was. Versions vary as to how William was killed; some claim he was struck by a stray crossbow bolt!

  • Review

An interesting start to the campaign. Henry steps into a difficult situation. William could claim, with some justice, to have been very unlucky. Yet, there is a certain amount of risk in committing one’s general so early. Had he won, however, he was set to give the Scots a good mauling. As in the previous battle (for Ceredigion), victory was decided without the close-order infantry coming to blows.