MEDIEVAL CASTLE SIEGE IN 15MM/THE CALL FOR SURRENDER
This gallery has been in the making for nearly ten years in the sense that the collecting of its figures, equipment and buildings began nearly a decade ago, but the actual construction/ scratch-building, structure preparation and painting started in mid-January of 2011 and ended the last day of June 2011. It was an intense six months, and the process seemed to take on a life of its own with the number of figures involved growing from an initial plan of 250 to 300 figures to nearly 800 at the time of completion. In fact, I discovered another group of interesting medieval figures from Donnington after this gallery was photographed, and they arrived in the mail today which means this collection is still growing.
The gallery is of a castle siege, but it is generic not historic in nature, hopefully reflecting events that could have taken place in France or England during the late 13th and early 14th centuries. I have no doubt that the roots of this collection/project go back to my childhood love of knights and Robin Hood, Vikings and castles. I decided on a siege as the gallery’s context because it allowed the incorporation of both a castle and siege engines of the stone throwing variety. I selected the time period I did both because of the stone throwing siege engines of that period but also because full plate armor had not become the norm; colorful crested heater shields were common as were knights on beautifully barded horses. The gallery itself reflects the moments before the battle has actually commenced and thus allowed the tidy displayed of the attacking forces as well as the town located within the outer bailey of the castle. I make no pretense as to my purpose with this gallery; it is to showcase the figures, buildings and equipment. Without a doubt the most interesting element of this project for me was the scratch building of the hoardings and the boulevard defensive gate stockade, but I will speak more of them later. I loved every minute of this project, and I hope you will enjoy the gallery that grew out of it.
In only one previous gallery did I intentionally show a photo of the table as it is laid out in the backyard for photographing, but I thought this gallery called for a similar approach so I included one here as well. The castle walls, gates, towers, and large keep are by Village Green which is now owned by Stronghold Miniatures. The exterior of the castle walls measures approximately 30 inches in width by 35 inches in length with each wall section measuring 3 1/8 inches in width, 3 inches in height, and 1 inch in depth. The walls are made of a very hard, dense, heavy resin that made the shipping cost from the UK extremely high. Because I purchased the castle nearly a decade ago, I have forgotten the cost, but it was expensive. I remember that. But the fact is, ten years later I’m still very happy with it, so no regrets. Within the castle walls are an outer and an inner bailey. The outer bailey encloses a town of 26 structures. The buildings in the outer bailey are by Hovels, Ian Weekley, and Monolith Design. Seven of the structures are scratch-built market stalls and one of those is an outdoor tavern. The market stalls are made from sheet plastic by Evergreen. The goods shown in those stalls are from Baueda, Preiser, and Essex plus some things I made from plastic and Milliput. The wicker fence is by Fire and Sword. The chickens, pigs, and sheep are Preiser. The farm fields are by Musket Miniatures. The inner bailey contains a large keep by Village Green/Stronghold, a smaller keep by Ian Weekley, and a stable by Hovels. The walls and towers that flank the outer bailey’s main gate are toped by scratch-built hoardings made of sheet plastic from Evergreen. They took just over two weeks of full-time duty to build but now that they are done, they are my favorite apart of the whole collection. Because the main gate opens side-to-side rather than as a drawbridge and has no moat for defense, I needed a further defense for the gate and that problem was solved by a wonderful website entitle Harness and Array. The solution offered by that website is called a boulevard or stockade defense. Using the model I found on the Harness and Array site, I scratch built a boulevard of my own, and I’m very pleased with the outcome. It is made from sheet plastic by Evergreen with a base of Milliput. Though the gallery contains no battle scenes, I did include pictures of the breached wall I built just because I thought it looked good. The wall is one of a few extra walls I purchased when I bought the castle. I knock a hole in it and formed the breach with Green Putty and small bricks from the Pegasus Military Museum Collection. Since I mentioned having purchased a few extra wall sections, I probably should also say that because the hoardings are permanently attached to the walls, I purchase an additional 13 sections (8 wall sections, 4 towers, and a gate) so I could have the hoarded wall area without hoardings as well.
The siege engines (counter-weight trebuchet, perrier, mangonel, onager, siege tower/belfry and ram/penthouse) are mainly by Museum Miniatures, with a few by Essex. The two cherry-picker style buckets are scratch build again using Evergreen plastic, Milliput, and a little wire. The crossbow figure in each cherry-picker bucket is by Peter Pig as are the two men controlling the swing of the bucket pole on the ground. They are actually Peter Pig billmen. I’ve cut the blades off their weapons and painted the remaining pole as rope attached to the counter-weight at the bottom of the pole on the cherry-picker arm. I got the idea for the cherry-picker siege engine from a picture on page 63 in Volume I of Le Costume, L’Armure Et Les Armes Au Temps De La Chevalerie by Lilane and Fred Funcken. I also scratch built what I hope will pass as a mining project used by attacking forces to undermine a section of wall. My mine consists of a patch of Milliput with a gradual upward slop toward the castle. Each side of this patch of Milliput ground is supported by wicker fencing (in this case not by Fire and Sword but I can’t remember the manufacturer). At the top of this gradual slop I created a square hole in the Milliput to act as the opening of the tunnel shaft, and I added the top of an Essex scaling ladder coming out of the hole. The mining work is hidden (hopefully) from the view of the castle by a scratch-built plastic mantlet. The defensive, pointed stacks protecting the archers are all scratch built using plastic for the stakes and Milliput for the bases. The mantlets, other than that used to shield the mining operation, are not scratch built, but I have no clear memory as to the manufacturer(s). I probably got them from Museum Miniatures or Essex, but I am not sure.
The encampment of the attacking force is made up of 15 tents by Ian Weekley, Minifig, and J.R. Miniatures. The clerical wagon is by Essex and the bell tower wagon is scratch built based upon online pictures I saw of one displayed at Salute 2007. The tables and benches with food and equipment are scratch built from plastic. The knights being dressed for battle by their squires are modification of Essex figures and the squires are modifications of Corvus Belli Roman figures. The ox roasting on a spit is simply an Essex ox figure I didn’t think was the correct size so I cut off its head and legs and hung it over a Milliput fire on a wire spit.
The figures used are Essex, Peter Pig, Old Glory 15s and Corvus Belli. The wagons are Essex and Hallmark. Most of the villagers are Essex and about half of those are modifications of Essex figures from other Essex lines such as Middle Eastern figures. I did some cutting and gluing and added some putty and paint. I’m really very pleased with the collection of villagers that resulted. I think it came to about 40 civilian figures.
The ground cover, trees and background mural have been used in my other galleries.
As always, the photography was done by my daughter in our backyard. I began the set up at 8:30 a.m. and my daughter began taking pictures at 11:40 a.m. The picture taking lasted about an hour, and we had everything put away by a little after 2 p.m. The set up and take down of a gallery layout is a long, draining process, but I love seeing an idea I’ve been working on for six months come to life. I was going to say it gives me cheap thrill, but the truth is there’s nothing cheap about it. Nonetheless, I do love the hobby, and it is exciting for me to see the photographic results when the process is complete. I hope you enjoy the gallery too. I think this gallery is a little unique in that during my research for the project I did not find a castle siege done in 15mm on this scale in terms of number of figures, number and types of siege engines, size of castle (30 inches x 35 inches), size of town, or size of layout board (5 feet x 7 feet). I want to offer special recognition to the website Harness and Array which was a true inspiration for me and to my daughter who takes wonderful photographs.