Wargaming the English Civil War, American War of Independence and Sudanese campaigns in 28mm

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Exciting discovery!

As I mentioned in my previous post, it was whilst walking around inside the 'Rout Yard' or earth fort situated outside the walls of Bolingbroke Castle that I made a rather exciting discovery.

Littered with bits of pottery and broken glass, the floor of the 'Rout Yard' was a treasure trove for the amateur archaeologist. It was in the top layer of soil that I found the clay pipe pictured below.

I knew that clay pipes were common during the time of the English Civil War and, given the Rout Yard's history, I immediately thought that this particular pipe could have been used and discarded during the siege of the Castle. The pipe is quite detailed and as you can see, it features a raised image of a tankard of beer (clay pipes were often sold in drinking establishments such as pubs). However, after conducting some research, I can date the pipe at 1860 which is several hundred years after a the siege which is a shame. Still, it's the first time I've found such a thing and in such good condition. I regularly find small sections of the white piping that forms the tube leading up to the 'bowl' in my garden, but I've never found a more complete piece.

The picture above was taken by Dave Hitchborne (contact.dave.hitchborne@gmail.com) and shows the inside of the Rout Yard. It was after looking through an album of his photos of the Castle and its grounds that I found out that shortly before my visit to the Castle, the 'moat' had been dredged and the silt was deposited in the Rout Yard. This meant that all the bits of pottery, glass and the clay pipe I found had been resting at the bottom of the series of small ponds that surround the Castle for the last hundred and fifty years! It was very interesting to find this out and helped put the last piece in the jigsaw in the history of this little clay pipe (unfortunately not from the time of the Civil War though).

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bolingbroke Castle visit

Bolingbroke Castle, located in Lincolnshire, was built in about 1220-30 by the then Earl of Lincoln, Ranulph de Blundevil, a powerful Norman baron. By the time of the Civil War in the mid-17th century, the castle was in decay but was rebuilt by the Royalists to make it sufficiently strong to pose a threat to the Parliamentarian forces in the county and was held until the Parliamentary victory in 1643 at the Battle of Winceby, three miles to the north. When the Parliamentary forces moved out, they deliberately ruined the castle to deny its use to the Royalist cause. Over the years, stone was robbed and used in local building projects, the site eventually becoming nothing more than a grassy mound until its excavation in the mid-20th century by English Heritage.

I took the following pictures of the site last year when I made the short trip from Lincoln to Bolingbroke one warm summer's day.

This is how the Castle would have looked at the height of its power in the 13th century, with a moat 90 feet wide coming right up to the walls.

This photo (taken from the same viewpoint as the illustration above) shows all that remains of the castle - the brick base of the once impressive walls. The mown causeway in front of you marks the line of the drawbridge.

This photo is taken looking slightly to the left of the previous picture (you can still see the information panel and causeway, leading up to the Castle entrance). It shows the marshy area which now surrounds the Castle where the moat would have been.

This photo, taken of an illustration on one of the information panels, shows what the Castle would have looked like when it was built in the 13th century. As you can see, it was quite impressive! It is, however, unlikely to have looked quite as impressive during the time of the Civil War as it was in a state of decay at this point.

This aerial photograph shows the Castle on the right, and the dark green ring around it is the marshy area which marks the extent of the moat. The earthwork on the left, known as the 'Rout Yard', is thought to be an earth fort built during the Civil War and played a part in the siege of the Castle in 1643. Recent academic study has however made claims that this was in fact used as a fish pond when the Castle was permanently occupied.

This photo shows the earthwork (in the centre of the photo) taken from the walls of the Castle and it was whilst walking around inside the earthwork that I made an exciting discovery...

A couple of updates today.

Just a quick heads up that I will be making a couple of updates to the site throughout this afternoon. I will upload a couple of pics of a trip I made to Bolingbroke Castle last year, the site of a siege and battle in the English Civil War. I'll then upload a more detailed account of the battle followed by a post containing pictures of a reenactment of the battle from the summer of 2009.

In addition, I'll post a few photos of an exciting find I made whilst walking the ground of the Castle!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Coming up this week

Here's what you can expect to see right here on this blog over the coming week:

1. Several historical articles about the type of weaponry and tactics during the English Civil War

2. My own research into the clothing worn by both sides during the conflict including a discussion on the development of armour and other forms of protection throughout the Civil War's duration and a clearing up of several common mistakes made when painting Civil War troops.

3. Modelling and painting tips

4. And by the weekend, expect to see some pictures of my first attempts at painting pikemen in 15mm!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Where have I been?!

The answer to that is, in the library. I'm in my last year at University over here in England and I finished my degree last week! But I've had an awful lot of work to do and so war gaming has taken a back seat. I now that I have a bit more free time, I can get back to my projects in the evenings rather than spending them in a building with no natural light!

So, what have I got planned for the coming months? Well, for starters, I will be putting on an ECW game in 28mm with Paul Darnell this coming Sunday at the Partizan show in Kelham Hall, near Newark. If you want to come and talk to me, I'll be at the Touching History table wearing an AWI militia t-shirt (which is a light blue colour) but you may find me loitering around Steve Jones' AWI game, trying to get him to let me have a go on the dice!

I've also ordered a few ECW figures in 15mm from Peter Pig as a test for what could be a big project. Since I've been working on my Ambush Alley moderns project, I've realised 15mm may be the way to go for speed painting large numbers of figures quickly and getting them on the gaming table (as I much prefer gaming to painting, but I do like my figures to look nice!). So I'll be test painting these figures (I bought a mixture of cavalry and infantry packs to get a good range) over the next few months and will post my results up here. As I will most likely be moving to a small, cramped flat somewhere in London in the near future, I wont have space for war gaming supplies and so a project which doesn't take up much room will be essential. I'm not sure what I'll do with my larger scale figures but it's likely that I will have to sell at least some of them. I have an awful lot of money tied up in them and they take up a lot of space (currently the bottom of my wardrobe and a small chest of drawers!). I've always wanted to write a set of rules for ECW either in 28mm or 15mm and so that's my other aim for the summer and I've been researching fighting techniques, tactics and weaponry over the last few days.

Summer Aims:

1. Write a set of rules for the English Civil War for use in 15mm war games.
2. Paint up a couple of regiments of infantry and cavalry
3. Make/paint a few bits of terrain
4. Play test!

I'd also like to finish off the Americans and their Humvees for my Ambush Alley games and I can see that getting done over the next few months in addition to the ECW troops.

I'd also like to thank those who have chosen to follow the blog whilst I've been away (there has been about 10 I think) despite there being no recent posts.