Monday, 20 June 2022



Didius Vulgaris Pomposianus, Dominus of the Villa Lurkio, nervously scans the horizon, searching for the tell tale dust cloud which will indicate the arrival of the merchant, Waitrosius and his eagerly awaited delivery of fresh fruit, asparagus, fine wines from Gaul
and, with the colder months approaching, woollen underwear from Gwynedd. For the Domina, Fulvia Meretrix, Waitrosius has promised precious merchandise to enhance her legendary beauty, including granulated crocodile dung from the banks of the River Nile, ground lark's feet preserved in aspic and a whole amphora of sheep's sweat. We can only imagine what the heir to the estate, Lupus Maximus Stulta, is hoping to see when the delivery arrives, but there haven't been any Nubian slave girls in Dun Rheged for at least two hundred years.

In this Clash of Spears encounter, Octavius Calavius Verax and a motley crew of Pedyts, escort Waitrosius and his essential supplies on their journey across Dun Rheged to the Villa Lurkio. What could possibly go wrong?
Well... how about being ambushed by a horde of Irish raiders, determined to get their hands on Waitrosius and his wagon load of precious produce?

With a long way still to go before reaching the safety of Villa Lurkio and the alluring charms of Fulvia Meretrix, Verax's carefree jaunt across Dun Rheged was unexpectedly interrupted by a group of mounted Irish raiders bursting out of the woods and galloping headlong towards his very  unprepared column! Quick thinking, as ever, Verax ordered his Pedyt slingers into a shooting position behind a close by rocky outcrop, where they hurriedly prepared themselves for action.

 As the Irishmen hurtled towards them, the slingers let loose a volley of iron and the first casualty of the engagement was sent crashing from the saddle, precipitating a tumultuous cheer from the watching Pedyts. 

However, much to the horror of the Romano-British warband, it now became apparent that the horsemen were not alone; from the cover of the woodland ahead of them, yet more Irish warriors could be seen breaking cover and rapidly heading towards the track, blocking them from their destination and the security of the Villa.

Waitrosius called out to Verax, begging him to turn around and head back the way they had come, but it was too late for that... either they fought their way through to Villa Lurkio, or the Irish would mercilessly hunt them down as they fled across the open plain of Dun Rheged.

At which, Waitrosius muttered those immortal words often expressed by those in situations like this... "Oh Bugger!"

As Verax ordered his Pedyts escorting Waitrosius and his wares to advance as quickly as possible towards the Villa, his second Pedyt unit marched off the track to take up a position supporting the slingers. These brave men knew the likely outcome of such action and many a silent prayer was offered up to the Almighty and just as many invoked the support of the old Roman soldier's god... Mithras.
The Pedyts took advantage of the hesitation caused by their aggressive manoeuvre and closed ranks to form a wall of shields, intended to hold up the Irish horsemen, while the supplies pushed on towards the Villa Lurkio.

At this point in the battle, Verax, seeing that the Irish warriors blocking his advance, were unarmoured javelinmen, pushed forward with his Pedyts, supported by fire from the slingers, intending to brush them aside and dash for the Villa.
The nearest group of Irishmen were unable to react to Verax's bold advance and the two bodies of determined warriors clashed in a fearful blood soaked struggle, with the Romano-British pushing their foes before them. Their moment of glory was short lived, however, as yet more Irish javelins were hurled into their ranks from the rocky outcrop to their right. The unstoppable weight of missiles took their toll and the brave Pedyts succumbed to the combined deadly ingredients of casualties and fatigue. With the demise of the Pedyts, nothing now stood before the Irish warriors and Waitrosius and his precious consignment of goods!
In spite of the dreadful calamity which had befallen Verax and his Pedyts, glory still had a plentiful bounty to bestow upon the Pedyts fighting on the right of the line... again, an aggressive charge by the footmen of Dun Rheged, was followed by the Irish unable to react in time. This time, it was the horsemen who found themselves facing the vicious spear points of the Pedyts and they were unable to stand the onslaught, crumbling under the relentless pressure and fleeing the field of battle.

In their moment of glory, the Pedyts saw, in the distance, advancing from the cover of the woodland, a sight which they realised signified defeat, in spite of their outstanding and honourable achievements... 

Hurtling towards them were a fresh unit of Irish warriors, not lightly armoured javelinmen this time, but the scourge of Dun Rheged, the vicious raiders, protected by shields and armed with weapons of savage ferocity.

With the fall of yet more slingers, at the hands of the skirmishing javelinmen, the morale of the valiant Romano-British reached the point of no return. The Irish warriors had fought a brilliant battle, using their wicked javelins to relentlessly grind down their opponents and the spoils of war would fall into the hands of the victorious.  

Verax and his few remaining warriors withdrew from the field of glory, leaving behind the cargo intended for Villa Lurkio. But, the Irish suffered many casualties too, and whether they thought the crocodile dung and the lark's feet were sufficient reward for their heavy grievous losses is not recorded in the Chronicles of Dun Rheged.
Reluctantly, Waitrosius says farewell to his beasts of burden and the profits that reaching the Villa Lurkio would have brought. 
Watching events unfold from the bridge to Villa Lurkio, Didius Vulgaris Pomposianus, was heard to utter the immortal phrase, "Ubi cruentum supellectilem", which loosely translates as, "Where's my bloody stuff?"

Perhaps next time, Waitrosius and his abundant home deliveries, will find a way through to the Villa... or will Pomposianus find someone else to deliver his essential supplies? 

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