The Saxons are fascinating, especially in the seventh and eight centuries as the kingdoms of the Heptarchy emerge. Here are a few of my figures for that period.

On the left we can see a Saxon thegn and his faithful hound (the thegn was a Gripping Beast limited edition giveaway model, the dog was from a set by Vendel Miniatures). The thegn’s Coppergate-style helmet places him sometime in the eighth century of thereabouts.

This chap invariably gets used as Penda of Mercia. Given his ability to terrorise the neighbouring kingdoms in the 600s and his reputation as a fearsome pagan, I felt fully justified in giving him a horse’s head on a stick and a raven shield and banner! This fab sculpt is by Bill Thornhill from Footsore Miniatures (the horse’s head is from the Foundry Early Germans range). I’ve given him a braided tunic edge to show his high status, as well as gilded rings around the edges of his mail.

Penda’s Gedriht (hearthguard) composed of a mix of Black Tree, Westwind, Footsore, Harlequin and Gripping Beast miniatures. All shields and the banner are painted by hand.

Although I think this set from Gripping Beast showing a horse sacrifice was intended for Vikings, it works perfectly well for Penda and the Mercians, I think!

Finally, we have a few mounted Saxons. Did they fight mounted? Probably only rarely and in specific circumstances, e.g. raiding or in pursuit. There is an interpretation of the Battle of Dunnichen (Nechtansmere) in 685 CE that has Ecgfrith and his thegns fighting mounted against the Picts, so when we replayed that campaign, we tried going with an all-mounted Northumbrian force. (Spoiler: it didn’t go too well for the Saxons.) These are all Gripping Beast models.

Saxon violence on horseback.
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