Pictish and Irish Commanders

The warlords of the Picts, with my favourite misty trees background from Jon Hodgson Maps

My recent Battle of Degsastan game got me thinking that I should refurbish my beloved 28mm Dark Age armies. These were originally mostly based up for Warhammer Ancient Battles, with each model being on a small square base. I’ve always liked vignettes, so my later armies featured command bases on 40, 50 or 60mm round bases, but I’d never done this for my Irish and Picts.

We muster at dawn! The Irish come out to fight. The King is a heavily converted Gripping Beast figures carried on his shield by two figures from the Alternative Armies Erin range.

Collecting the armies for this period was great fun, very much encouraged and enabled by two particular ranges: Gripping Beast’s Irish and Foundry’s Picts, which both trailblazed the better representation of ‘Celtic fringe’ types in 28mm wargaming. Now, of course, we have the miracle of two plastic boxed sets of Irish from GB and Wargames Atlantic, but back when these were collected, it was metal or nothing!

Pictish king – two Gripping Beast models with a hornblower from (I think) Old Glory. I always liked the idea that the ‘broken arrow’ Pictish motif might be a protective symbol so I painted it on the king’s shield.

To create the vignettes, I went back through my units to pull out my favourite standard bearers, horn blowers and commanders and played around with arranging them on various bases. These were painted (and in some cases, repainted) over a number of years, dating back to my earliest dabblings in 28mm historicals, so you can probably see some variations in the brushwork!

Irish King – a wonderful miniature sculpted by Duncan Patten for Gripping Beast, based on the Angus McBride painting. Flanking him are a banner bearer (a Colin Patten sculpt from GB) and a horn blower (a Pict from Black Tree Designs)
Angus McBride – Irish Sub-King from the Osprey book Arthur and the Anglo Saxon Wars

Flags and shields were all done by hand, using sculptural and pictorial references. It’s unlikely that any banners were as large as these in history, but for me , the visual appeal and ease of identification on the table is just as important.

It was lovely to revisit these old fellas, so much so that I impulse-ordered a few West Wind Picts to create a new command stand for these armies. More soon!

Irish champion from Crusader Miniatures

These chaps are both Black Tree Designs Picts masquerading as Irish

This banner is really hard to photograph! The black colour scheme was inspired by Owain’s Blackshield Irish in the Bernard Cornwell books

Irish warlord and standard using Gripping Beast figures
Pictish chieftains. Both standard bearers are Gripping Beast; the shouting commander is a Pict from Black Tree designs, the commander with sword is a Foundry Pict.

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