Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, May 13 2021 07:04PM

Despite my recent incursion into 15mm (see previous blog post), I continue to upgrade my collection of 25/28mm late Romans and Germans.

The most recent troops on the painting table are all new figures from First Corps and Footsore Miniatures. Inspired by the bare-headed, long-haired figure in Roman dress on the right of photo (marketed as Aetius by Footsore). I decided that this unit will represent Alaric the Goth with his Comitatus. Having spent many years in Roman service and briefly appointed Magister Militum per Illyricum. I have no doubt that he and his companions would have worn the best Roman kit available. The long hair and clean-shaven face would have been typical of early 5th C Goths.

Yet again I have chosen to use a limited colour palate to give the unit a coherent look while still allowing for individually. In this case red and golden-yellow predominate.

Inspired by sagas describing ‘golden shields’ I decided on a deep yellow-ochre base with individual designs. We have no idea what designs the Goths painted on their shields, or if they painted them at all. Rank and file in the early days would probably have picked up Roman shields from the battlefield or occupied armouries but I imagine that Alaric’s close companions would have had the time and means to decorate their shields to their taste. The designs I have painted are all based on early Arian Christian symbols. If a long-hair style was one thing that characterised the Goths, their adherence to the Arian form of Christianity was another.

The standard is also taken from Arian Christian imagery. This design is taken from the Arian baptistry at Ravenna (albeit some time after Alaric).

It shows Christ (always without a beard in Arian depictions) receiving the holy spirit from the dove-like bird. I added the I(n) H(oc) S(igno) V(incas) initials to make it a little more war-like. The figure carrying it comes from the same Footsore pack as the Aetius miniature I am using to represent Alaric. You also get a rather unlikely hound and handler. Do with that as you wish!

I gave all the men red-cloaks in various shades, again attempting to create a balance between uniformity and individuality.

This is the finished unit, with the addition of a singly based ‘champion’ ready to challenge a Roman opponent to single combat.

By smacdowall, Jan 16 2016 11:24AM

I recently visited the British Museum's exhibition on the Celts. I thought it was very good with an excellent collection of artefacts well displayed and well explained. The exhibition is on until the end of January.

Some items, such as the Battersea shield, are old favourites which I had seen before, others were new to me. One thing that always strikes me when I see Ancient British/Gallic shields is that they are considerably smaller than the complete body shields that tend be given to our miniature figures. Given the individualistic style of fighting a smaller handier shield than a Roman scutum makes sense.

This bronze helmet used to be thought of as an Ancient British helmet, however the label in the display case now attributes it to a Roman, or a Briton serving in the Roman army, due to the Roman numerals engraved on the side.

This helmet used to be known to wargamers as the ‘jockey helmet’ thanks to the illustration in Phil Barker’s Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome which portrayed it being worn back to front. Minifigs even produced a half naked ancient Brit (still available) modelled on the illustration. In reality the helmet would have had cheek guards and the projecting horizontal piece was a neck guard rather than a peak.

Bearing in mind the recent piecing together of the Hallaton helmet — a Roman cavalry helmet found in a pre-Roman conquest British grave — maybe it is time to put a few more clothes on our Ancient British warriors and issue them with some Roman kit.

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