This army list begins with the accession of Edwin, King of Northumbria, and through his alliances the most powerful king England had yet seen, and finishes with the Danish conquest in 1014. The early part of the list covers the period before shieldwall tactics were adopted.
The sharp end of III/24a consists of the general and two or three elements of hirdmen warband – nobles and their hearth troops. The sharp end of III/24a consists of the general and two or three elements of hirdmen warband – nobles and their hearth troops. These are a Magister Militum figures and I really enjoyed painting them. Who can say no to a command element that includes both a Dragon Standard and a face mask?
One of the hirdmen elements can optionally be exchanged for cavalry. In a Northumbrian army this would represent the mounted troops shown on a Pictish rock carving of the battle of Nechtanesmere, and in a Mercian army these would be vassal troops from small kingdoms of Wreocensæte and Magonsæte (in Shropshire). The Saxons themselves didn’t really go for cavalry but they are recorded as having used them to ride to battle and to pursue routed opponents.
The bulk of the army is Select Fyrd spearmen. These are a mix of Feudal Castings and Museum figures.
Two of the Select Fyrd can be replaced by Great Fyrd, who were levied from the peasantry. These figures are from Magister Militum, with a few Khurasan figures (the ones with the coolie hats) thrown in. Although they are generally pretty annoying to use, Hordes have their uses in DBA. Their ability is often underestimated, so when they show a bit of backbone it can give your an opponent an unpleasant surprise.
Supporting the army is a single element of skirmishers. These are Feudal Castings slingers, although archers or javelinmen would be more appropriate.
List III/24b covers the period from when shieldwall tactics were adopted. In the picture I have maximised the variety by including the Great Fyrd, but it could be eleven elements of Spearmen with a single element of Skirmishers. The new shieldwall (side support) rule proposed for DBA 3.0 should make this army fairly tough compared to how it would perform in DBA2.2, although it would still be rather vulnerable to anyone who is good at fighting Spearmen!
Although I have plenty of Dark Ages camps I couldn’t resist the Baueda Saxon geteld tent – although I chose a plain off white rather than the garish red, yellow, and blue in Ms Cotton Claudius B.IV f.23v. The cooking scene is mostly made up of a little vignette from Donnington Miniatures.
For such an interesting period of history this army is quite stodgy, and maybe in a campaign setting they could pick up Welsh allies or Irish mercenaries. I’ll enjoy using these figures for Dux Bellorum though, as that rules set is specifically designed for the period. I recommend reading Battles of the Dark Ages, by Peter Marren, as an inspirational primer on this army (and its predecessor) and its enemies.