Monday, 15 May 2023

The Battle of Watling Street AD61

Boudica of the Iceni led a revolt against the Romans following the death of her husband and terrible injustices at the hands of the Romans. 

After phenomenal - and bloody - successes for the Celtic Britons, it all came to an end at the battle of Watling Street. We found references over the weekend to it being called the battle of Mancetter (in Warwickshire). There are several theories as to where the battle took place, but really? There’s been no archaeological evidence and nobody actually knows. Watling Street is a later name given to a Roman road between London and Wroxeter (in Shropshire).

Roman general Gaius Suetonius Paulinus gathered what forces he could - primarily elements of XIV and XX Legions - and chose his ground well; a defile where Boudica couldn’t use her massive advantage of numbers over his ~10,000 troops. Boudica had gathered an army numbering hundreds of thousands!

This is John’s nicely converted Boudica. Go girl!

The stage is set for our recreation.

The chariots are launched towards the Romans. Their line is already being restricted by our depiction of the defile; impassible woods on both flanks.

It may be that we’re an island nation that the use of war chariots persisted with Celtic Britons long after chariot owners elsewhere had traded them in!

Becoming more and more constricted, the chariots close. In their characteristic checker board formation, the Romans wait patiently. Potentially untroubled!

The Romans snap into a solid line of scuta to meet the javelins of the charioteers. Yep, the chariot attack was only slightly better than completely useless!

As the charioteers come to terms with their impotence, the warbands are becoming impatient. The Iceni, Boudica’s own, lead the way. Neighbouring tribes are formed behind; Trinovantes, Coratani and Catuvellauni.

Time to release the masses upon the Romans.

The Britons surge forward. In addition to being constraining by the terrain, the retiring chariots are funnelling the foot.

The Iceni get themselves all worked up before making their final rush against the enemy.

Bothered? The Romans still look cool as cucumbers!

Boudica has come forward to encourage her warriors. Disordered by pila, they hit the wall of Roman shields. The Roman machine goes to work…

The Iceni are pretty much chewed up by that there Roman machine. 

The skull token is there to remind us that the leader of that warband has been killed!

There’s little to cheer about on the “barbarian” side…

The barbarian advisory service need to step up their game! 

Apart from the very centre warband, the Iceni line is shattered and retires (apparently it’s good being retired! I’ll never find out…!!!). The Romans push forward and exchange their lines. Boy, these guys are efficient.

The fighting first! They’re still there… just.

The remaining Iceni, the Trinovantes and the Catuvellauni pile in! Boudica continues to egg them on.

It’s a meat grinder! Having for the most part exchanged their lines, the Romans greet the tribesmen with pila once again. Then they do the nasty things a Roman is want to do with a gladius.

The Romans are the meat grinder. The Briton are the mincemeat!

Terrible casualties are inflicted against this second wave of warriors and the Roman line again pushes forwards.

The Britons are still putting up resistance, but with their  flanks secure this small Roman army are (new analogy; I’m full of it you know) like a combine harvester… The Coratani have yet to engage, but with how it’s gone so far and the show closing its doors shortly, we call it: a spectacular Roman victory! History recreated: check.

Reinforcements? Who needs’em!

We WON’T be back! Tribesmen streaming away from the front.

It’s believed that Boudica poisoned herself rather than be taken and paraded in chains through Rome.

A large part of the reason it took us the best part of 6 hours to play the game is that we spent a lot of time chatting with the lovely folk that took an interest in our carryings on. We had a great display of weapons, books and coins. Most of John’s figures on the table were home casts using Prince August moulds. We had a selection of those very moulds and, unsurprisingly, many folk hadn’t appreciated that was an aspect of our hobby. It was partially for our engagement with the public that…

We won the award for best demonstration game!!! Yay!

There’s always one that spoils a photo call. Dave…

Top lad Kenny phones John to tell him the good news!

And we go celebrate in the Scottish sunshine! Still sporting our Team Westerhope colours (sky blue!)

Thanks for reading. And if there happen to be any reading from the show, special thanks to our hosts Falkirk District Wargames Club for a show well done and to everyone that took time to chat with us. See you next year!



Sunday, 14 May 2023

Carronade 2023, Falkirk

What a fabulous show this weekend in Falkirk!

We Westerhope “boys” made a weekend of it as usual, arriving on the Friday to set up the game and then retiring to a local for a few drams etc! Both John and Graham had to miss out on coming due to family health issues. And Brian reckons a show is too much for him, but it’s probably that he can’t keep up with our boozing (joking!). So it was Paul, Dave, Mike and me. 

Hard at work setting out the table.

All ready in no time as they’d rehearsed the layout at Dave’s house. (Not a single person asked what the flag was!)

Masses and masses of Celtic Britons! What a visual spectacle! The stage is set for our recreation of the Battle of Watling Street AD61.  After action report to follow in next post.

On the Saturday, the show was well attended with a keen 400 through the doors in the first hour! And there was a real buzz about the place. It felt busy almost up the end. When we suggested that we call it, Dave hadn’t realised it was already 20 to 4!

The painting competition, shown above, and the flea market (bring’n’buy) were well subscribed. Some lovely miniature works of art entered in the competition and folk walking away with armfuls of bargains from the flea market. I was very restrained. For a change.

A fella offered me a game for only £75. It was his idea of a bargain, not mine…! Then I asked for some figures from a manufacturer I don’t often see; they didn’t have what I wanted in stock. I only spent £5.50 which has to be a record low for me. I won’t let that happen again…

And there was a great swathe of super looking games. A selection of those that caught my attention follows.

A Japanese ship to ship battle that looked great and had participants throwing handfuls of dice.

A beautiful ECW game. Spot the ball?

A visually striking fantasy racing participation game.

Crazy golf! Participants raced Japanese tanks along a golf course in Singapore (in the best Hollywood tradition, it was loosely based on real events). Great to have a chat with fellow VBCW veteran Colin.

A stonking Pacific atoll landing. There was fire and smoke everywhere as the Americans took line after line of Japanese defences. 

A nicely executed Thirty Years War game. 10 or 15mm? It looked the business!


The Battle of Pynda, 168 BC showcased figures we can only dream of playing with. Top work Immortals!

There was a good selection of traders in attendance. One had travelled all the way from Cornwall! What the what? Dedication to the cause!

I’ll cover our game in my next post. 

My eldest is a complete ham. Can’t think where he gets it from…

Thanks for reading. I’ll follow up with our game AAR soon.