“Then they sent to Angeln, bidding them send more help, and had them informed of the cowardice of the Britons and the excellence of the land. They then immediately sent hither a great force to the help of the others. These men came from three tribes of Germany: from the Old Saxons, from the Angles, from the Jutes”. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 449 A.D.
After reading the entry for 449 A.D. in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, I wanted to try and create a unit in our Dark Age games of Angles which could serve as allies or mercenaries of the early Saxon sea raiders. These would be men who had been informed of “the excellence of the land”, who had left the remote region of Angeln on the Jutland Peninsula overlooking what is today the Bay of Kiel for the softer gentler landscape of the English downlands.
The Venerable Bede in the eighth century A.D. briefly described the Angles’ homeland of Angeln “which lies between the province of the Jutes and Saxons, and remains unpopulated to this day”, perhaps a reference to the aftermath of the Angle migration. Tantalisingly, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also refers, in the context of Angeln to land “which ever after remained waste, between the Jutes and the Saxons”.
I wanted to create a slightly different, identifiable unit of the Angles, or Anglii in latin (or angels, if you like the Pope Gregory the Great story). I started by creating a standard to which the small Angle force could rally, making the flag out of some thick artists paper which was glued with Araldite epoxy resin and folded to resemble it blowing in the wind. I’ve always found epoxy resin makes a great modelling glue for fabric and paper when you want the shape of the standard to stay curled or to resemble a flag blowing in the wind. Foil and thin metal works well also, but does not always have the resilience and endurance of good quality paper when painted.
I also made up some casualty bases for the Angles. The TooFatLardies rules almost all use “shock” (or “wound”) markers to denote casualties or deterioration in fighting capacity of a unit. We mark “shock” with small micro-dice, but in Dark Age fighting of lines of numerous units and shieldwalls, these can sometimes get knocked over or muddled between units. So I hit upon an idea (not my own, I should add!) of making a small dice holder on a casualty base. The casualty base comes on when some “shock” is inflicted, with the dice being turned as the shock rises or falls. They look a bit more cinematic than just having a dice on the table, and were pretty easy to make. A small offcut of Styrofoam, carved with a modelling knife, served very well as the holder for the dice on each base.
I primed the whole unit with Halfords grey car primer, which gives a lovely, even, matt grey prime ...
... and then painted the figures ready for the Army Painter dip. As with the second batch of Saxons, I “pre-shaded” the figures. By this, I mean that I shaded the deepest recesses of the figures chainmail, cloaks, eyes and neck, giving a very basic depth to the figure. This, in turn, helped to create more of a smoother depth to the colours once the Army Painter dip was added. In all this did add more time than for the first batch of Saxons, and a little more time again than the second Saxon batch as my pre-shading was more extensive.
I know from your comments that you’re interested in whether I actually save any time on this unit by using a dipping method – being honest, I have to say that I probably didn’t save very much at all. Dipping is certainly good fun, and I think I’m getting used to its idiosyncrasies. But I found that once I tried to reach for a good standard using the dipping method, I felt that the time saving was minimal. So, for me dipping will be a viable, alternative painting method – but I don’t see it displacing my previous painting style.
I painted the Angles bucklers light grey to create a uniformity of background. Lard-Thane Richard Clarke had suggested a white and back shield background for the Angles, and I thought this would work really well with the small buckler shields. I’ve always loved the Dark Age imagery of ravens stalking the fields of the slain after a battle, and the rapacious, land-invading migration of the Angles also struck me as being carrion-like. I therefore thought that painting a raven design on the Angles’ bucklers and standard would be quite suitable and also fun to try.
Now, at this point I shall confess freely that I have no evidence whatsoever of any obsession of the Angles with a dark, brooding, fate-laden raven God which inhabited the North German woods in the Dark Ages. And also no evidence of tribal groups painting their shields a uniform colour with a similar design image in fifth century A.D. England. None whatsoever. That being said, I had great fun painting the raven designs on the Angles’ shields working from images in various sources from a couple of Ospreys, a book on Anglo-Saxon Art from the British Museum, a couple of archaeological sites online and some field-work of looking at the crow rookeries in the nearby woods! So, in football score terms: History 0 Fun 4!
Some basing trays finished off the unit for the moment, although I’m going to add some Silfor tufts later this week.
Turning to using the Angles in our Dark Age games. I’m hoping we can focus on the role of the Angles as potentially unreliable allies, and perhaps even mercenaries, rather than merely subject troops of the Saxons. As close neighbours to the Saxons and Jutes, it is easily to imagine that the tribal groupings may not have seen eye to eye on all matters.
Mercenaries are always great fun to introduce into a tabletop wargame and a campaign, and I’m hoping that the Anglii, Angles (or Angels) are no exception.