Tuesday 12 December 2023

Battle of Etchingham 1066

 Afternoon All

Monday night saw a full house in the shed and it was determined that a Dark Age Bash was in order using Hail Caesar. An entirely ficticious battle was created - to be called the Battle of Etchingham

In an alternative timeline William the Bastard and Harold Godwinson didn't meet at Senlac Hill in 1066 but further north at the village of Etchingham. This small hamlet straddled the London Road between the capital and the south coast. In our ficticious game Harold has drawn his forces up across the road as William approached. 

Each side has approximately the same number of units (about 36 aside) drawn up into six commands and each player would command two generals. Vince, Alastair and myself would gallantly lead the Normans, whilst Mark, Tony and Sven would cower behind their Saxon shields

With time limited (3 hours) the game would be fought until one side lost more than fifty percent of their force (unit count) and to help speed things along any shaken unit was removed from play immediately rather than leaving these weakened units on the field. 

The table looked pretty fantastic with over 1700 28mm figures on the table. This included almost 200 Norman horse.

Virtually all my Dark Ages are plastic with figures sourced from Conquest, Victrix and Gripping Beast

One third of the Norman horse advances

The game can be best described in five phases - each potentially impacting the course of the battle.

Phase 1: Norman deployment and First turns.

With the Saxons already deployed in line the Normans were given free rein to deploy their three Cavalry divisions and three infantry divisions. We elected to weight our centre and left wing with the heaviest horse knights and disperse the foot across the line.

Another third...swinging onto the Saxon left flank

With deployment complete the Normans kicked off proceedings and whilst the foot surged forward the all the cavalry remained rooted to the spot. We didn't worry as the Saxons then began to make a right old mess of their command structure. Feeling that their line was too spread they elected to close up ranks. Subsequent rolls meant half the army moved - several new gaps appeared and to complicate matters their right wing blundered with units retreating off table and disordering the rightwing in their departure.

The Normans failed to capitalise on the chaos as units refused to charge in - this allowed the bulk of the Saxon line to achieve the tighter look they wanted and more importantly go into the inpenetrable shield wall

Phase 2 - The Normans charge !!

With a cheer the Norman horse and foot charged into the Saxon line along their centre and right wing.

It was brutal, attritional and tough work to manage so many melees across the table

At first the Normans began to make headway on the Saxon right wing with Knights pushing back and bloodying the flank defenders

The centre saw foot and horse crash into each other and again the Normans had the edge. Our Saxon friends were looking a bit downbeat and muttering that their deployment had been unfair...war is not fair and I should add that I had just as much chance as playing Saxon as I did playing Norman.

Were the Saxons going to capitulate that quickly?

Phase 3: With frustration the Saxons charge.....

Fearing that they had already lost the Saxons decided that they would charge to their front across the field. If they were going to go down they would fall bravely. Note: at this point the Saxons had only lost three units (out of 36) and most of their force was otherwise unengaged. 

The two armies crunched together.....

Phase 4: The Brutality of Dark Age warfare revealed....

Across the field the two armies smashed into one another - with every unit most likely supported to their rear and potentially sides we had a scenario where virtually every unit on the table was fighting simultaneously. Typically the Horse did well in the initial charge but then started to falter as hits piled in, better armoured warrriors despatched lighter troops and the shield walls were all powerful.

As the fight progressed Norman casualties began to pile up alongside the Saxon defenders. With an hour to go there was nothing between the two sides and it could still go either way.

Phase 5: The endgame

As the clock ticked down the larger number of armoured Saxon foot began to tell. With their right flank just holding they surged forward on the left and in the centre.

Disrupted by continuous attacks the Normans were pushed back with units falling on a continuous basis. Their vaunted cavalry having little ort no impact on these English men.  

As the clock reached 10 a cheer rose from the Saxon ranks they had broken the Norman army - two hours earlier they were bemoaning their position and the numbers of Normans confronting them..

An epic and exhausting battle....

more soon


  1. That's a shed load of dark age action (could not resit the pun) , thanks for the eye candy.


  2. Epic looking encounter 👍

  3. What a splendid sight that is! Hurrah for the Saxons! Boo for the Normans of William the Barsteward!

  4. A spectacular and splendid battle!

  5. A wonderful battle. Thanks for pics.