Mystery at Carisbrooke Castle

Well it’s a good title for a crime thriller but a bit misleading for my blog. However, there is a bit of a minor mystery to be solved and any help from the wargaming community would be welcome. My Brother, Pete, lives on the Isle of Wight and has a couple of allotments just down the road from Carisbrooke Castle. The google earth picture below shows the position of the allotments in relationship to the castle. The distance is about half a mile ‘as the crow flies’.

The Castle is in the bottom left quarter of the picture. The allotments are marked with a blue flag in the top right quarter, just above the Southern Housing group.

Cannon Ball and Musket ball

Whilst digging on the allotments he has found a number of what we presume are cannon balls or gun stones of various sizes. The most commonly found size were the larger of the two in the picture – these have also been dug up on adjoining allotments.

Size comparison with my WOTR artilllery piece – figures are 28mm perry’s!

It looks as though the ball has been fired as there is a noticeable roughness on one side, compared to the almost perfect sphere of the rest of the ball.

Cannon ball with ‘firing’ side to the right

So the question is what are they? There are some clues and our casual research has revealed that the last action near to the castle was the siege of 1377 when the French besieged the castle. According to local legend, an archer, Peter de Heynoe, shot and killed the French comander with a single shot from his bow. I think that it is unlikely that these cannon shot date from that period though.

A more likely explanation is that George Carey, persuaded Queen Elizabeth 1 and the local citizens to pay for the creation of a modern artillery emplacement at Carisbrooke that was completed in 1602. The concern was that the Spanish would attempt some sort of landing or invasion Although never required in anger, it seems likely that some test firing would have been made.

As well as the cannon balls or gun stones, a number of fragments of clay pipes, including intact bowls have been recovered on the allotments. These look to be 17th century – unfortunately , I do not have pictures.

Finally, the allotments are sited on the position of an old quarry. Is it possible that the stones were being produced here for use else where? It could be that this was an old storage area. However, the indication that the stones have been fired, seems to make storage not quite so likely.

If you do have any information, please contact me through the Arcane Scenery shop page. Unfortunately, I have had to turn comments off on the blog due to the high number of spam message etc.

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:

ARCANE SCENERY

The contact details are here:

CONTACT US

Happy Modelling!

Maiden Castle

One of the pleasures of the hobby, that I spend most of my time so immersed in, is the different facets that can be enjoyed with other people, family and friends. We are very lucky in this country to be surrounded by history that is very accessible and often set in the beautiful English countryside. So a casual walk with the family can still be a source of inspiration for my hobby.

A walk in the country

A walk in the country

We were in Dorset to celebrate my Brothers 60th Birthday and after a nice meal, a few drinks and countless games of Pool on the previous night, a nice walk to blow away the cobwebs was required. Pete had discovered that Maiden Castle, the largest Iron age hill fort in the country, was just a stones throw away from where we were staying. Even better, although being looked after by English heritage, entry is free!

2018-09-15 11.18.10 Rather than include the history of the castle here, I’ll add some links at the end of the blog so if you are interested, you can start your own research. In the meantime, here’s a pictorial tour of the castle from my perspective. I’ve added in pictures of some of the story boards, so you can see the official commentary.

The View as you approach the Western Entrance

The View as you approach the Western Entrance

As you approach the Entrance to the Castle, the scale and size becomes more apparent. In it’s time, Maiden Castle must have dominated the area as a seat of power.

How the Western Entrance might have looked

How the Western Entrance might have looked

Maiden Castle - the view from the top

Maiden Castle – the view from the top

The views of the surrounding countryside were certainly impressive on a clear day!

Maiden Castle - story board 3

Maiden Castle – story board 2

The fort started out as a Neolithic gathering place and over the course of the years, developed into the massive complex that we see today. There are stories of the Romans laying siege to the hill but it seems that there is no firm evidence to support this. I certainly would not have fancied trying to climb over the mounds and ditches whilst the locals were throwing sticks, stones and harsh words!

Maiden Castle - the complex banks and ditches protecting the summit.

Maiden Castle – the complex banks and ditches protecting the summit.

Maiden Castle - Burial Grounds

Maiden Castle – Burial Grounds

Maiden Castle -The Eastern Entrance Story Board

Maiden Castle -The Eastern Entrance Story Board

Whether the Romans fought their way into the fort or defeated the occupying people in battle elsewhere isn’t clear. What is for sure is that the Romans did take over here in Dorchester and the hill fort became the site of one of their Temples.

Maiden Castle - Roman Temple Ruins

Maiden Castle – Roman Temple Ruins

Maiden Castle Roman Temple

Maiden Castle Roman Temple

Maiden Castle - an Aerial View

Maiden Castle – an Aerial View

An aerial view of the castle shows it’s complexity and size. As I walked around it, I couldn’t help but think of the history and events that had taken place there. I have ambitions to build a Roman Army and I have been very tempted by the Victrix range of Imperial Romans available. Like wise, the Footsore Romano – British range would make a lovely warband. I’m sure that if King Arthur did exist, he would have at least ridden by this area!

King Arthur - Footsore Models

King Arthur – Footsore Models

The Commercial Bit

First the links to:

ENGLISH HERITAGE – MAIDEN CASTLE

WIKIPEDIA _ MAIDEN CASTLE

If, like me you are tempted to build a Roman army, a great place to start is with the new Victrix range:

VICTRIX RANGE

For an even more comprehensive range, you cant go wrong with the Warlord Hail Caesar range:

WARLORD GAMES – Hail Caesar 

For a later Roman or Romano British army, the footsore range contains some beautiful models:

FOOTSORE

At the time of writing, items are supplied post free to most world wide locations!

Happy Modelling!

Waterloo Men

The beauty of our hobby is the many facets that can absorb you. I spend a good deal of time modelling and painting (too much according to my Wife!), I game at least once a fortnight and I spend many a happy hour researching, either on the internet or reading. I am currently reading John Hussey’s book on the 100 days Campaign. Actually, it is in two volumes but lets get Volume 1 read first! There’s another facet that I also enjoy, visiting battlefields or historical sites. I have fulfilled one ambition by visiting the Battlefield at Waterloo. You can read about some of my impressions in early Blog articles here:

BATTLEFIELD VISIT – LA HAIE SAINTE

THE HEROIC STAND OF THE INNISKILLING

Cossall Church

Cossall Church

Grand excursions like this are few and far between. However, there is plenty to keep me occupied closer to home in Nottingham. I had come across the story of Corporal John Shaw of the life guards in quite a few accounts of the Battle of Waterloo. I have written a small piece on John Shaw for Wargames Illustrated when putting together a painting guide to the Warlord Games Household Cavalry boxed set.  Shaw was from Cossall, a small village to the north of  Nottingham and I was aware that there was a monument to him in the graveyard at St Catherine’s Church at Cossall but had yet to pay a visit. So this weekend, I combined a trip to Cossall Church with a errand to go out an buy some Wall Paper for the bedroom that we are decorating . Fortunately my Wife was focused on the wall paper, whilst I was day dreaming about Waterloo!

Memorial plate at Cossall Church

Memorial plate at Cossall Church

As it turned out, the monument, erected in 1877, is a memorial to three Waterloo veterans, John Shaw and Richard Waplington both of the Life Guards and Thomas Wheatley of the Light Dragoon Guards. The latter intrigued me. I thought that there were only Light Dragoon Cavalry Regiments not Light Dragoon Guard cavalry regiments. According to the references that I have so far found, Wheatley was in the 23rd Light Dragoons. I’m not sure if it is of significance and will do some further research. Was the memorial stone creator being generous in awarding Wheatley Guard status? Whatever, Wheatley survived the battle and lived the rest of his life in Nottingham once discharged from the Cavalry.

Cossall Memorial

Cossall Memorial

Memorial inscription

Memorial inscription

I was unable to locate his grave in the graveyard although I did find other Wheatleys’ buried there – it seems likely that there is a family connection and although a recent web article speculates that the memorial is built on his grave, I am unable to confirm this.

Detail on Memorial

Detail on Memorial

Unfortunately, the church was closed and so I was unable to find further information but I will go back over at some point to see what else I can discover.

Wheatley family grave

Wheatley family grave

In the course of telling one of my wargaming buddies, Andy,  about my excursion he said ‘of course, you do know that there is a Waterloo man buried in Bingham Churchyard?’ Well despite the fact I have lived in Bingham for some 27 yaers, I had no idea! So I had a wander around the local Church yard and sure enough found the grave of Richard Holt, who served at Waterloo. Initial information indicates that he was with 40th Foot but I have yet to confirm this. If it was so, he not only fought at Waterloo but was across the Atlantic, fighting the Americans in the war of 1812. I had a chat to the Church warden but he was unable to tell me any more about Richard Holt. He did say that he had a relative called Grey, who served in the artillery at Waterloo and who was also buried in the Church Yard but the grave was now lost.

Richard Holt a Waterloo man buried in Bingham

Richard Holt a Waterloo man buried in Bingham

All in all a most rewarding weekend. I’ve commented before that History is often very close to home – it’s just a question of knowing where to look. I find it all fascinating and the stories surrounding the individuals help to bring the past alive. I do love my hobby!

If you would like to read more about the Cossall Memorial to Waterloo, click here:

WATERLOO: THE COSSALL MONUMENT

 

 

Wars Of the Roses Part 2 – Stokes Field

After the light hearted look at history at Warwick castle, my next outing was to Stokes Field, just South of Newark and only ten minutes up the A46 from my house! It was here that the last battle of the War of the Roses was fought, on 16th June 1487 some 2 years after Henry Tudors earlier victory at Bosworth Field. The occasion was the 530th anniversary of the battle and the event was hosted by Foundry Miniatures, who are themselves based at East Stoke village. The battle is somewhat of a footnote to the Wars of the Roses but was a major engagement, possibly involving more participants than Bosworth. The casualty count was certainly higher, due to the fierce, drawn out close combat and the ensuing rout where most of the Yorkist elite were slain. If you are unfamiliar with the battle, it is worth checking out the Wikipedia article here:

THE BATTLE OF STOKES FIELD

The Battlefield tour was led by Mike Ingram, an extremely knowledgeable and affable guide. Mike explained the background to the battle, who was involved and why. I was particularly impressed that Mike was happy to give more than one possible version of what had happened and why this should be. Events that occurred 530 years ago are never going to be completely documented and so I quite like the uncertainty being made clear.

The march to Stokes Field

The march to Stokes Field

And so on a very hot Saturday, we set off to walk the Stokes Field battlefield, accompanied by some of the reenactors. It was sweltering just wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Quite how the guys in armour coped I’m not sure but they marched with us! Much of the battlefield is now on privately owned land so I felt privileged to be able to get access to the site. In fairness, you can understand the farmers reluctance to having Joe public trampling his crops but it is a shame that the site is not more accessible to the casual visitor.

That said, there isn’t a great deal to see other than the beautiful countryside. You really needed a guide to help you imagine how the battle was fought

Stokes Field - The Kings men are coming over that hill!

Stokes Field – The Kings men are coming over that hill!

Hold the high ground boys

Hold the high ground boys – That’s the old A46 fosse way to the left of the picture.

Having reached the top of the battlefield and surveyed the landscape, we walked back down the hill in the direction of the defeated Rebel army. Our first port of call was the stone that marked  where Henry VII planted his standard after the battle.

The stone that marks the place that Henry VII placed his standard.

The stone that marks the place that Henry VII placed his standard.

It was over this field that the rout and pursuit of the rebels took place as they tried to retreat back to the ford over the Trent.

The view towards the Trent

The view towards the Trent – no rebels , just barley.

We made our way back to the Church at East stoke were the following memorial can be found.

Memorial stone at East stoke Church

Memorial stone at East stoke Church

As you can see from the inscription, the rebel force comprised of a large contingent of both Irish fighters and German Landsknecht mercenaries as well as the English rebels. They must have made an interesting bunch on which to base a wargaming army. The Irish were very lightly armed in the main, referred to as Kerns, and would have looked somewhat like a Dark ages army. They suffered terribly at the battle from the concentrated archery of the Lancastrian  army. The Landsknechts would have cut a colourful sight, in their distinctive costumes. Although armed with pikes and the latest handguns, they too found it difficult to combat the trained archers that they were facing. Indeed, it is said that their bodies were ‘filled with arrows like hedgehogs’. Gunpowder had yet to dominate the battlefield.

Landesnecht re enactor

Landsknecht re enactor

The English Contingient

The English Contingent

From East Stoke Church it was a short walk to inspect the ‘Red Gutter’, a cutting that leads down towards the River Trent, where hundreds of rebels stumbled into it and were slaughtered. From there it was back to Foundry HQ for well deserved refreshments. This also gave us an opportunity to take a look at the wargame that had been put on by the ‘Like a Stone Wall’ club.

The Battle of Stoke field

The Battle of Stoke field

Another view of the action.

Another view of the action.

We were also able to wander amongst the Reenactors encampment, once again, I found them to be very generous with their time and expertise. Unfortunately, I had run out of charge on my phone so I have no more pictures to show you. A quick walk around the stands at Foundry HQ and it was time to go. I now feel enthused to get on with my War of the Roses Army, so perhaps in between the next Napoleonic unit I’ll paint a few more pikemen.

If you would like to visit the battlefield, you are able to walk around the East Stoke Church and wander down to see the ‘Red Gutter’ and of course, I am sure that the guys at Foundry will be pleased to see you, the shop is open Monday to Saturday, details are here:

WARGAMES FOUNDRY 

You wont be able to get to the ridges on which the battle started but you will certainly get the ‘feel’ of the battlefield from the lanes below. I’ve put links to the local TV and Newspaper  coverage of the event that might be of interest – it might take a time to load but is worth the wait. I hope that you find the two blogs have been useful – perhaps they will inspire you to have a go at this fascinating period in history.

NOTTS TV NEWS COVERAGE

THE LOCAL PAPER REPORT – NEWARK ADVERTISER

 

Wars of the Roses Part 1 – Warwick Castle

It’s been a busy June, with my weekends being taken up with one event after another. I’m not complaining, far from it, I know how fortunate that I am in being able to get the these events, so in an attempt to document my recent exploits, I’ve written this weeks blog in two seperate posts.  The first event that I attended was a visit to Warwick castle. This was a birthday treat from my wife, who had spotted the event and booked the tickets back in February. Warwick castle is certainly an imposing venue and looks just as you would expect a castle to look, if you know what I mean! There’s plenty to inspire a wargamer here.

Approach to Warwick Castle

Approach to Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle gate house

Warwick Castle gate house

The rear of the Castle

The rear of the Castle

As you can see, it is an imposing structure and a trip to visit the castle is a great day out. The tour around the battlements  is at times a challenge for someone as unfit as I am these days but well worth the effort. The views of the surrounding countryside are amazing.

How many stairs did I just climb?

How many stairs did I just climb?

Lovely view of the countryside

Lovely view of the countryside

The main exhibition in the Castle is a recreation of a Royal weekend visit to the stately home at the turn of the century. It’s very well done, with a light touch as regards to the history but plenty to see and keep you involved. Of particular interest to me were the Armoury exhibits.

Armour on display in the Great Hall

Armour on display in the Great Hall

More Armour.

More Armour.

As a bonus though, the castle owners were running a ‘War of the Roses’ event, which although a bit fast and loose with the history, was superbly done and very entertaining.  The castle is now run by the same group that run Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds’ and so is a little prone to over commercialization. That aside, there’s plenty to keep you busy without having to fork out for extras and the venue has created a number of set piece events to entertain the guests. For example, outside is the mighty trebuchet which is demonstrated every couple of hours with a ‘live’ firing. It’s all done in good humour and full audience participation – the video gives you some idea of the action.

Once the trebuchet had been fired, we were able to inspect it – here are some closer shots.

Preparing to fire!

Preparing to fire!

Look closely and you can see the crew running in the side wheels ‘hamster style’ to hoist down the firing arm.

Good job team!

Good job team!

The winding gear

The winding gear – look at the size of the shot!

load ammo here!

load ammo here!

The highlight of the live events was the re-enactment of the War of the Roses. Essentially this was a jousting match with a bit of acting and audience participation but great fun to watch. Once again, here is the event in pictures.

Eric Dier look alike provides the warm up for the Yorkists!

Eric Dier look alike provides the warm up for the Yorkists!

Henry Tudor takes charge!

Henry Tudor takes charge!

Margaret of Anjou take to the field

Margaret of Anjou takes to the field

Hurrah for Edward of York!

Hurrah for Edward of York!

Things are not going to well for Richard.

Things are not going to well for Richard.

Richard unhorsed!

Richard unhorsed!

If the costumes lacked some historical authenticity, it was easily overlooked as the spectacle of live knights in combat is pretty amazing to watch. It certainly fired up my imagination and interest in this period. We spent a full day at the castle from opening amost up until closing time and still did not see everything. Finally, although unrelated to wargaming, it is worth reporting that the grounds of the castle were immaculate. There is a rather lovely tea house tucked away in the Orangery overlooking the gardens and it was here that we rested with a coffee and cake and were also entertained by the peacocks.

Beautiful plumage!

Beautiful plumage!

Peacock close up

Peacock close up

Closer!

Closer!

If you would like to visit Warwick Castle or find out more, here is the link to their site.

WARWICK CASTLE

 

History surrounds us.

I haven’t lifted a paint brush or done any modelling for nearly a fortnight now. It’s been one of those fallow periods that you go through from time to time. There are other things happening in life that draw you away from your hobby. We are having a new kitchen installed that has caused a bit of chaos and, of course, my hobby den, AKA the garage has been used as a dumping ground for the new units coming in and then the old ones going out. This means that I couldn’t get to my workbench if I wanted to. There was some good news though. I have had a new light installed in the Garage as well as a couple of new power sockets, so when I do get access ( next week…) the facilities will be much improved.

I also had to return to my home town in Torquay to conclude some family business. Sadly, my father passed away back in March after a long illness, and I have been travelling back & forwards to Torquay from Nottingham for the last few months. My Dad was a big influence on my hobby. Of course if it wasn’t for him I would probably never have got involved with building models. Dad was an enthusiastic model airplane and model boat builder and was more concerned with building a working model rather than the ultimate replica. He taught me the practical skills that I needed to build models, how to use the various glues, filler & materials and of course how to use the tools & techniques to produce a good model.

The Slipways at Torquay

The Slipways at Torquay

His other passion was for fishing – sea fishing of course, being in Torquay. The great advantage of sea fishing over coarse fishing ( apart from the fact that you usually eat what you catch when sea fishing!), is that you don’t have to be quiet and so you can have a conversation whilst you are watching your float. During our fishing trips to Torquay harbour, my Brother & I  would be asking Dad about the various buildings and structures and it was surprising how many of the unusual buildings around the harbour were actually defensive structures from the Second World war, now modified for everyday use. This inevitably led to stories from the second world war. Dad was only a young boy during the war but he witnessed the Terror raids on Torquay, ( My Mum was bombed out of her house in Babbacombe and my Aunty was nearly killed when a Fockewolf crashed where she was taking shelter – stories to be told in later entries in my Blog) and of course the build up to D Day. The Americans were billeted at the bottom of Dads Road in Upton Park.

It was from these stories that my love of history grew, and if you put an interest in history together with a passion for modelling, a wargamer and military modeler is sure to emerge! The strange thing is that whilst at school, although we learnt the dates of the big battles and wars, when kings came & went and the political background behind the conflicts, we were never taught what happened in our own town. Recently,  the town has recorded that the two slipways that I fished from as a child were built as loading ramps for the LCTs that went off to Normandy on D-Day. Now I reckon that kids today would be just as interested to hear these stories now as I was then. So check out your local history, if you don’t already know, there will be lots of history stories all around you. If nothing else, they will no doubt inspire you fro your next modelling project!  Here’s a few pictures of the plaque erected in memory of the D-Day ramps in Torquay.

 

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