Monday, July 25, 2011

24th July, Chipping Warden (Edgcote battlefield)

Ancients on the Move on the Battlefields Trail

(the Anniversary Edgcote battlefield walk)
A beautiful sunny afternoon with an occasional light breeze. Ideal conditions for visiting a battlefield (unlike my visit to an inundated Naseby 2 weeks ago!). A July battle, no mention is made of weather conditions (which generally are mentioned if they affect events): so we must assume that it was also a fine day in 1469.

(lunchtime meet at the Griffin Inn, Chipping Warden)
This visit combined the Battlefields Trust, Medieval Siege Society and SNAG, marking both the 542nd year and the last week of the consultation period before the Government makes a decision that might send a High Speed rail link right through the potential heritage site.

(The Battlefields Trail links Edgcote, Cropredy and Edgehill)
Edgcote is one of those Medieval battles where the location is not entirely secure.

Nevertheless, it was clearly on the flat ground in amongst 3 hills near Edgcote and Chipping Warden on the banks of the Cherwell. We can explore those fields knowing we are very close to the location, knowing that all the probable sites will be destroyed by the rail link.

Although I am entirely unconvinced of the need for the High Speed link between London and Birmingham (relative to all the other pressing transport priorities), I wouldn't presume to tell others what to think.

However, you have until Friday 29th to register a view in the consultation process (there is an online form at​uk/have-your-say).

(Commemorative roses dropped at Trafford Bridge, Edgcote Battlefield)
If you support the Battlefields Trust's objections to the proposed route, you will want to ans
wer 'NO' to question 5 ... (suggested answer ... 'I disagree with the proposed route around the village of Chipping Warden as it cuts directly across the historic battlefield of Edgcote, 1469'). If you have no view on the other questions, you could answer 'no view'.

You must act now (before 29th July)

(SNAG, Battlefields Trust and Medieval Siege Society at Edgcote Battlefield)
One of the problems with the Edgcote location being uncertain is that it has compromised it being included in English Heritage's list of battlefields ... and that in turn leaves it more vulnerable to big government/big ideas. However, the latest research leaves us much better informed. See the
Battlefield Trust Edgcote report.

(Edgcote: the Rebel cavalry may have charged down these slopes)
On the day, of course, a rebel army led by a self-styled Robin Hood (Robin of Redesdale, probably Sir John Conyers) beat a squabbling Yorkist army under Herbert and Stafford. Lacking the expected support of Stafford's archers, Herbert's Welsh spearmen were destroyed by a combination of archers and cavalry.

(Edgcote: explaining the possible site of burial pits)
As well as a general exploration of the battlefield, members of the Medieval Siege Society threw red and white roses into the Cherwell off Trafford Bridge to commemorate the dead of both sides.

You can find out more about the Medieval Siege Society
You can find out more about SNAG against HS2
You can find out more about the Battlefields Trust

On the move next weekend to a Society of Ancients Committee Meeting (London)
On the move the week after to Claymore (Edinburgh)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

16th -17th July, Northamptonshire

Festival of History

Festival of History is English Heritage's annual historical and reenactment event hosted at Kelmarsh Hall just a few miles away from the battlefield of Naseby.

The emphasis is strongly military, and there is always a lot for the ancient and medieval enthusiast to enjoy.

Attending the event as part of the Battlefields Trust team, I could only see a fraction during my breaks (and so missed the much praised Bosworth presentations) ... nevertheless, I caught some interesting Crusades stuff and managed a bit of SoA recruiting.

I'm a wargamer, but I can multitask ....

(Gladiators prepare for the arena)

(The Normans arrive)

(scenes from Outremer)

There were also plenty of armourers able to furnish equipment - like these gleaming Romano-Celtic helmets

In the Wargames tent, Phoenix Club and Warlord Games provided a choice of games including this Hail Caesar attack on the Roman baggage romp.

Plenty of youngsters getting involved here - even during the sunny spells.

For pictures of the 20th Century features, have a look at my P.B.Eye-Candy blog over on wordpress.

(click on the picture)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Northamptonshire, 8th - 10th July

2011 Conference of Wargamers

This year's Conference of Wargamers started with a visit to the battlefield of Naseby hosted by myself and Graham D Evans (and, later, a staging of my miniature version of the battle on the Sunday morning - see my ECW Battles blog for more on these events) ...

It ended with a meeting of the Paul Morris Memorial Prize panel to start the process of selecting the 2011 winner. The prize is sponsored by John Curry's history of wargaming (and, in addition to other benefits, the winner will be entitled to choose a book from John's increasing stable of classic titles). At present, the panel consists of myself, John and John Bassett O.B.E. (the 2010 winner). We are happy to add other enthusiasts to the team, and are keen to look at nominees for the award.

The Paul Morris Prize is awarded to the most innovative non-commercial wargame within the Society's remit. In practice, the game needs to have been presented in a public forum (at a show or event, published in the Internet or similar), but not sold in a fully commercial package.

(COW 2011: a wide variety of games and presentations)

The panel is able to consider reports on games that correspondents have seen in play or played, it is not able to consider games submitted by authors in the expectation that we set them up and evaluate them ourselves (though when we have a short list we will endeavour to see the games in action where we can ...)..

Please contact any of the panel if you wish to join us or if you have a game you wish to nominate.

Over the course of the COW weekend ...

John Bassett's Caesar's Heirs was a fast paced multi format romp through the civil war following Caesar's assassination. I took the role of Mark Antony and immediately set about consolidating my support and hoping to see the decline of my two great rivals ... Octavian (my rival on my own side) and Brutus (the murderous republican) .. as luck would have it both were killed in a great battle which the Triumvirate won, leaving me the greater power in the land.

(Caesar's Heirs: discussion over the theatre map)

It was delightful to see the Republican players gobbling up the power and offices we were able to scatter on the table as the fruits of victory ... Rome indeed is a great she-wolf at her best nursing her little ones.

At game end, only Cimber was left ... isolated but powerful, still holding true to his old-fashioned values, and with a significant force at his disposal. However, the grain was now flowing, and Cimber's army though vast comprised more allies and auxiliaries, less the veteran legions that would dominate a coming battle. He would surely be hunted down.

After dinner both evenings saw the Society's Domino Double Header games out and offering lively entertainment. In one of the hard actions at Harfleur, Henry got himself surrounded. Having bloodied the Captain of the Guard almost to the point of defeat, he confronted a critical decision: one high-powered domino available amongst a handful of low numbers - should this go to the attack and finish the action? Or should he, more sensibly, make sure his defence was adequate as victory looked assured whatever?

(GitS: this time a victory for the English King)

He went for the attack, the Captain just survived and so was able to make the counter. The random counter attack domino was deadly and Henry went down in the breach. There would be no Agincourt - the campaign would end in failure on the muddy coast of France.

You can get a copy of Domino Double Header from the website ... or from us at a show (next outing ... Claymore, of course) ... You will need access to 2 to 4 sets of dominoes.

(The Elephant in the Room: nearing the Roman lines)

Elsewhere, over the weekend, I was engaged by a very varied selection of games and talks, from Mike Elliott's interesting look at the battle (and battlefield) of Quebec to John Curry's sprawling Fletcher Pratt naval game. I very much enjoyed sitting in on the Drury and Brooks Froeschwiller Franco-Prussian tussle, and had a couple of ripping yarns with the WD Display Team North ('Better Red than Dead' - a board game of Red Army careers in which I remained too lowly to get purged - and 'Rollbahn Ost' - Operation Barbarossa in 20 minutes (!), in which my rivals in Army Group Centre took Moscow in less than 10 minutes) ...

For more on the twentieth century COW content, have a look at my P.B.Eye-Candy blog ..

(John Curry's presentation of the Fletcher Pratt Naval Game)

(Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame)

(The battle of Froeschwiller teetering in the balance)

As I've mentioned in the past, COW is also often my only opportunity of the year to sit down with the Society's Life Vice President Phil Barker and chat about relevant topics. We had a good look at some of the burning topics (DBA v3 and such like), and some valuable reminiscences about the early days of ancients gaming. Re DBA 3, I can only pass on Phil's general advice (don't judge it in advance, on the basis of rumours about some isolated changes ... judge the whole game that has resulted extensive input and testing).

COW forms part of a very intensive early July. Campaign took place on the same weekend (so I await reports ... ), meanwhile, I am writing this a week later - already after English Heritage's Festival of History at Kelmarsh Hall.

Some perspective on that event will have to wait for another session (and another batch of photos).