Sunday, 22 May 2022

The Small Boat Section.

 In the previous blog I have shown some small boats for Aelle to attack Lechlade. 

I thought that maybe I should show how I built them. For this you will need;

* Some cardboard. Picture framing cardboard for the base and the thin cereal packet cardboard for the sides.

* Some dressmaker pins.

* Some PVA glue.

* A pair of scissors.

* A craft knife. ( young people might need to enlist the aid of mum or dad.)


1)  Cut the base 50 mm long by 25mm wide.  ( 2 inches x 1 inch.).

2) cut the boat shape.This is 50mm long x 20mm wide. ( 2 inches x 7/8ths). If you use thin card, you may have to glue two layers together.

3) Angle the ends of the boat shape about 10mm. ( 1/2 an inch ).

4) Glue the boat shape centrally, to the base.

5) From the thin cardboard, cut some strips 5mm deep x 100 mm long. ( 2/8ths deep x 4 inches long).

6) Glue one strip to one side of the base, using three dressmaker pins to hold the piece in place. Leave this to dry.

7) Once dry, trim the glued side piece. Glue the second side piece to the boat shape, again using three dressmaker pins. Leave this to dry.

8) Once dry, trim this second piece to match.

9) This now completes the boat. I coated mine in Texturing paste although you could coat the model in slightly watered down PVA glue. This is just to strengthen the model.

If required, you could pre-cut a load of pieces and “mass produce” a fleet.

These boats could have a sail added if you want to use them as ships for 2mm, 6mm or 10mm figures. For 15 or 20mm, you could cut the figures in half (two or three ) to represent the boat crew.

In late Roman times these river craft were known as Dromons and were painted light blue. They could hold about 40 soldiers. The Saxons, Danes and Vikings had the same sort of vesssel holding a similar number of men.

The larger ships I built in a previous blog could be used as cargo ships..

The use of boats brings another dimension to the game.

The boats are meant to hold one stand for 15 or   20 mm figures. They could be deemed to hold more stands in the smaller scales.

The 5th Century in Britannia part 8 Arthur’s Battle of the River Bassus 487 AD.

 The following is my personal interpretation, as a wargamer, of events in this era. Everything I have written here is conjectural but I have attempted to use history as a guide. Any mistakes are my own.

486AD, June to December. Arthur’s victory against the Seaxons is a cause of great celebration amongst the Britons. The senior Nobles are glad to see a Seaxon host defeated. Inwardly, they are concerned that Arthur would become Dictator, then use the army against them after defeating the Seaxons.

Once again during the Winter Solstice, the Kings gather at Caerleon. They are;

Alclud;  Tutagual. ( his father Cinuit has died).

Gwynedd;  Einon.

Powys;  Cadell.

Dumnonia;  Geraint Llyngesic. ( the Fleet Owner ).

Gwent;  Iddon Ap Ynyr. 

Arthur, with Merlin in attendance joins the Council. Despite their personal misgivings, the Kings declare their support for the Pendragon. They all consign a number of troops for the Commitatus. The conversation amongst the assembled Kings then turns to the invaders. All of them have stories of more Seaxons  arriving on the East and South coast.

In the North, there has been a steady stream of civilians crossing the river Trent. In the South, there are still dwindling communities of Britons fighting off Seaxon raiders east of Dumnonia. At Winchester, the South Gate is blocked off. At Silchester, the North and East Gates are also sealed. At Wanborough along with the other towns is a cadre of Citizen Militia led by the Town Prefect. These are called upon to fight off any raiding parties. These towns are still being supplied from Corinium ( Cirencester).

Meanwhile, in Lundene, Osla meets with Aelle. They are both aware of the Saxon defeat. They decide on a plan to cut off the supply route to the South and East, making it easier to take over the territory.

Seaxon spies have found out that the Tamesis can be navigated by boat. The Tamesis flows past Durnovaria. At this point the river becomes the Isis, which can be navigated as far as Lechlade where the road South can be disrupted.

Lechlade is an old Roman Colonia, which has fallen into disuse and is sparsely populated.

In a combined effort sixty boats can be collected or made. Each boat can carry forty warriors and a Pilot. Because he has a ten day march to Lundene via Stane Street. Aelle can only call on 2,600 warriors. The rest are required to guard Chichester. Aelle’s warriors will go into the boats

Osla can call on on 5,000 warriors. He will lead his men West along Akeman Street toward the river Glyme. The idea is that Osla will distract Arthur so that Aelle can destroy Corinium. Aelle  and Osla come to an agreement. Osla will recognise Jutish Rights to land South of the Tamesis. In return Aelle recognises the Tamesis as the Southern border of Angle territory.

487AD,  January to April. Arthur and his Generals bring the army together at Caerleon training the men in formations. Meanwhile, cavalry patrols are still watching the border country. Reports are surfacing that Seaxon raids have diminished. Merlin has heard whispers that a major attack is imminent and that boats are involved.

Arthur sends a request to Geraint of Dumnonia for ships to patrol the Severn Estuary and the South coast, sailing East as far as Vectis ( Isle of Wight ). Toward the end of April, Arthur moves the army to Glevum. Into May, the number of Seaxon raids diminish even further. Arthur moves the army once more to Corinium, both to watch Akeman Street and the Isis. As the army is set in motion, a patrol arrives reporting that a Seaxon Army is advancing West along the Akeman Street route.

In a brief meeting with his Generals, Arthur tells them to advance to Lechlade. Once there the army is to prepare for battle and to ensure his Standard can be seen. A messenger is sent to Durocorinium asking for the Militia to assemble at Lechlade.

ARTHURS ARMY OF THE BRTONS = 4,600 = 4.6 points x 10 = 46 points.

1,200 Briton Veteran Infantry = 1.2 points x 10 = 12 points = 4 stands @ 3 points.

1,200 Auxilliary Infantry ( Hwicce) = 1.2 points x 10 = 12 points = 5 stands @ 2points + Rogatainus @ 2pts.

400 Light Archers = 0.4 pts x 10 = 4 points = 4 stands @ 1 point.

600 Elite Cavalry = 0.6 pts x 10 = 6 points = 1 stand @ 3 points + Arthur @ 3 points.

400 Regular Light Cavalry = 0.4 pts x 10 = 4 points = 2 stands @ 1 point + Owain @ 2 points.

300 Hwicce Light Archers = 0.3 pts x 10 = 3 pts = 3 stands @ 1 point.

500 Gwent Militia = 0.5 pts x 10 = 5 points = 1 stand of Militia @ 2 points + Cadwallon @ 1 point + Cadwy @ 1 point + Medreut @ 1 point.

Arthur has the army drawn up in and around the remains of Lechlade. Palisades are erected to the north of the town. The remains of the town wall facing South to the river Isis are reinforced.

When Osla arrives at the road junction, his Scouts tell him that the Briton army is to the South. Corinium is to the West. Osla wants to take the town but realises that Arthur is positioned on his Southern flank with his back to the river. The opportunity is to good to pass by. Eventually, the Angles are drawn up in their shieldwall facing the Briton position. For a while both sides stare at each other in silence. Arthur realises Osla is playing for time. It is not long before he finds out why. Aelle,s fleet of sixty boats makes an appearance.

Suddenly Osla raises his sword and with a massive “ HOOM” shouted by the warriors the Angle shield wall rolls forward and battle is joined.

OSLA AND THE ANGLES = 5,000 men = 5 points x 10 = 50 points.

Osla  @ 1 point.

23 stands of Warriors @ 2 points = 46 points.

3 stands of Light Archers @ 1 point = 3 points.

AELLE AND THE JUTES = 2,600 men = 2.6 points x 10 = 26 points.

Aelle  @ 2 points.

11 stands of Warriors @ 2 pts = 22 points.

2 stands of Light Archers @ 1pt = 2 points.

As the Veterans meet the attack from the North, the Jutes run their boats up the bank of the river and attack piecemeal. This attack is met by Rogatainus and his Suebian Auxilliaries. As Aelle steps up onto the bank he immediately realises that the plan has changed and directs his warriors at the Britons.

The fighting is hard and everything hangs in the balance. Arthur and his Generals are in the thick of the fighting as are Aelle and Osla.

After some four hours of fighting, the situation is becoming desperate. Arthur’s troops are putting up a strong resistance but numbers are beginning to tell. As the fighting continues, Arthur and his Generals become aware that the Seaxon attack is starting to falter. Briton warcries are heard from the Western side of Lechlade.

The arriving Britons are attacking Aelle.s Jutes. A decision is made to concentrate on the Seaxons attacking the North side of Lechlade. As the Britons press forward, the Angles start to give way. Arthur signals his Cavalry and they move forward. The Angles break. Arthur tells Owain to take some of the Infantry to aid Rogatainus. As the Jutes also break formation the slaughter begins.

Many men are killed at the riverbank as the remaining Jutes take to  their boats. Aelle manages to get free. Meanwhile the Angles are being harried by the Briton Cavalry. Arthur has once again prevailed, but the army has taken a battering. Both the Angles and the Jutes have also lost heavily.

The three Prefects and their Militias are praised by Arthur.

Mauric led 700 Militia from Glevum;  0.7 pts x 10 = 7 points = 3 stands @ 2 points + 1 leader @ 1 point.

Manseutas led 600 Militia from Corinium;  0.6 pts x 10 = 6 points = 2 stands @ 2 points, 1 stand of archers @ 1 point, 1 leader @ 1 point.

Andragius led 600 Militia from Durocornium; 0.6pts x 10 = 6 points = 2 stands @ 2 points. 1 stand of Archers @ 1 point. 1 leader @ 1 point

The day after the battle, the dead are buried and the army reorganised.. The Seaxon boats are broken up and burnt. On the second day, Arthur leads his army to Glevum and onto Caerleon. Aelle has taken his remaining warriors back to Lundene. A few days later Osla leads his survivors into the City. In subsequent meetings there are heated exchanges and recriminations. Eventually wiser heads prevail and a loose agreement is made to combine against Arthur in the future.

For the moment Arthur has been victorious, however, in private conversations with Merlin the subject is always;  how long can the Britons prevail.?———-


Nennius places Arthur’s Sixth battle at the river Bassus. As I understand it “ Bassus “ is the feminine of “Bass”. The only part of a river in Britain with a female name is the Isis. This is ( as shown on the map ) the upper part of the Thames between Dorchester ( Durnovaria ) and Thames Head. The name is used in conjunction with the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race in modern times.

Lechlade was a busy river port at the height of the Roman Empire, but gradually fell into disuse in the later era. The town was ( and still is) roughly eight miles from the Akeman street junction.

If Arthur wanted to watch both Akeman Street, The Isis and keep the army together then, much like Syagrius at Soissons, he needed the enemy to come to him. This is why I think Lechlade was chosen. As far as I can make out, Lechlade sits on a promontory of land with the rest of the ground east and west being flatter.

There must have been a reason for Nennius to say that Arthur fought a battle “AT” the Bassus.If Arthur placed his army there, the main route to his base at Caerleon would be undefended.As stated above, he needed to provide a powerful incentive to the enemy.

Therefore, to be there, Arthur must have had some notion of an imminent waterborne assault . Aelle would have had to use Stane Street  to move his men to Lundene. This would be to avoid any Frontier Briton settlements around Silchester. This would have been quite an undertaking, as the warriors would need enough food etc for ten days. ( Roman  Military Posts were no more than three days march apart.). The ammount of food available would dictate how many men go on campaign.

The Angles knew that Arthur’s army was a powerful fighting unit therefore they would need help. The Saxons were in no state to fight another campaign so the Angles need the Jutes. These people were still trying to establish themselves on the South coast, in an area close to Briton territory, therefore only a few warriors wold be available to support a direct attack into the Briton heartlands.

Would it be possible for the Germanic tribes to organise a strategic attack?. Well, by this time many of the Germanic warriors and leaders would have had some contact with the Roman Military either as foes or as Foederati. The leaders would have served as Officers. Looking at the lives of Aetius and Ricimer, I certainly think it is reasonable.

The sealing off of the gates at Silchester and Winchester is a fact, but nobody knows when this actually happened. The town of Reading came into being as a Germanic settlement. The names of the three Prefects are real and did exist but I don’t know when. However I thought they could help Arthur.

The boats used by the Jutes were of a Scandinavian design which could hold forty men and a Pilot. The current train of thought is that the Angles, Jutes and Saxons rowed across the North Sea and the Channel.

When looking at a map of Roman Britain, Cirencester is a major hub controlling the roads to the South of Britannia. The countryside was heavily wooded so the Roman Roads were still important to movement. Gaining Cirencester would put the Seaxons closer to the centre of Briton resistance at Caerleon. If the River Severn could also be controlled, that would sever communications with Amorica.

With regard to the Militia intervening in the battle, well, according to Google it takes four hours to walk from either Wansborough or Glevum. Given enough planning these men could get to Lechlade in time to effect the battle.

There are still more battles for Arthur to fight,—————.


Some special rules are required to fight this action.

* The Britons retain the initiative for the length of the battle.

* The battle will last for 8 Game-Turns.

* The Angles and Jutes move first on the first Game-Turn. From Game-Turn 2 until Game-Turn 8, each side will dice to see which side moves and fires first.

* The Britons win any ties.

* The Town Militias enter play on Game -Turn 5. The Militia are moved when the Britons move. Aelle,s Jutes will attack the town first. They will not engage the Militia until they appear from the trees.

* Stands in boats are worth one point.

* Stands cannot fire while in a boat.

* The palisade counts as a trench for the Britons.

* If the walls are attacked, the attacker looses 4 points. = 2 points for attacking uphill and a further 2 points points for attacking the wall.

*  The soft ground to the East of Lechlade cannot be entered.

* Boats move at two squares and cannot move if there is no crew.

* The buildings cannot be moved. The buildings inhibit movement and block line of sight for firing.


The figures are mostly Hat Miniatures. Some are from Newline Design so a mixture of plastic and metal. The boat crew tokens were made from cutting plastic figures in half.

Most of the standards were scratch made from masking tape but Arthur’s standard is a decal from Little Big Man Studios as is the Elite Cavalry Standard. The standards are made from javelins supplied from North Star Miniatures.

The buildings were from Peter Pig. The walls and palisade are from Alternative Armies. The hills are a mixture of premade by Brian of Essex Miniatures, the others being scratch made from cork tiles. The trees are by various manufacturers, Guagemaster being one. The river and roads are made from thin card.

The tree outlines were made made by S and A scenics. The round mdf bases on some of the trees and command bases are 40mm and are from Minibits. The square stands are made from picture framing cardboard.

* The boats are scratch built from cardboard.