Saturday, 18 June 2016

Saint Cuthbert's Banner.

When you play Sword & Spear, you need a general and a couple of commanders to lead your forces into battle. I decided to depict my general as Antony Bek, the renowned warrior Prince Bishop of Durham, after all, with God on your side, those action dice are bound to roll sixes!

While I was searching for information about Bek's heraldry, I came across references to a sacred, corporeal cloth, which was attached to a spear and carried by the English forces which defeated the Scots and captured King David at the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346. Although this was too late for the army I am building, a little extra reading lead to further information about this 'corporeal cloth', in particular, that it was a banner dedicated to the northern divinity, Saint Cuthbert. A Banner of Saint Cuthbert, not the one carried at Neville's Cross, was mentioned in sources dating back to the time of Edgar Aethling in 1097, so it seemed likely that such a banner would not be out of place in my English host of the late 13th century. Thus it came to be, that the holy Banner of Saint Cuthbert came to be the army standard for my Sword & Spear English host.

The banner itself was simple enough to construct using Page Plus and Gimp2 and I decided to make it into a hangar attached to a cross pole which, in turn, would be attached to a spear carried by the standard bearer.

The only other decision to make, was to whom should the honour of carrying Saint Cuthbert's Banner be given? While I was at Partizan earlier this year, I picked up a pack of figures from Curteys Miniatures, which included the figure I was going to use as the Prince Bishop, along with a standard bearer and a musician.

Battleflag, who produce wonderful transfers for all sorts of historical periods, make sets of heraldic transfers which are specifically designed for Curteys barded horses, so I decided to obtain a set and make up a standard bearer using their transfers. Of the sets available, I most liked the look of Sir Philip Darcy's heraldry, so he was duly appointed to carry the sacred banner!

When it came to putting the figure together, the Curteys standard bearer seemed a bit wooden for the scene I wanted to create, so I used a figure from the various Fireforge Miniatures mounted men-at-arms sets I have tucked away in my cupboard. I'm convinced that the Fireforge figure looks much better, but I hadn't realized that Curteys cast their saddles on the knight, but Fireforge cast theirs on the horse! This resulted in my Sir Philip Darcy going into battle without a saddle, which wasn't really acceptable, so the missing parts had to be created using Green Stuff.

The composite figure painted up very nicely, but I wasn't as impressed with the Battleflag transfers as I had been with the Roman legionary shield designs I bought from them last year. The transfers for the horse barding split when I applied them to the horse and the translucence of the transfer made it stick out like the proverbial sore thumb!

It takes a lot of work to blend the transfers in with the background colour of the miniature, as several coats of paint are required and the brush work has to be particularly carefully done. However, once the transfers have been touched up, they do look pretty good and they are certainly better than I could achieve by freehand brush work!

Sir Philip still needs a coat of varnish or two before he'll be ready to join the fray, but, all in all, I've been quite pleased with the way he turned out. Eventually, he'll appear with the Prince Bishop and an infantry standard bearer carrying the personal banner of Antony Bek.