Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Carlisle and the Cumbrians

Hot on the heels of the recent couple of posts for my 1314 project comes my latest (and last for a little while) unit of infantry.

As I have posted before, finding heraldry for the nobility of the time is quite easy (special mention to the DMWS website and their medieval page, for example), but what the commoners carried on banners and shields is a bit more elusive. I could just paint lots of St George crosses, but that would be too easy (and not necessarily even accurate....)

Whilst looking for suitable badges, devices and flags for various potential city contingents, I started by simply typing in the name of a city that existed in medieval times in the search bar (Bristol, Norwich and York are good in this context, Birmingham and Milton Keynes are not!). Images of current city badges came thick and fast and, using a bit of licence, guesswork, further research and by removing likely later emblems, I came up with a few ideas. Going back to Bristol for a moment, I can report that the Bristolians of the 14th Century will not feature in the project, as their city badge has an 18th century sailing ship on it! That was a giveaway without any further research!!!

Using this basic premise, their geographical location and their part in anti-Scots actiivty in this era, I settled on Carlisle for this contingent, simply removing red roses from the current badge (too early for Lancastrians, you see), which basically left me with a red cross on a yellow field - entirely plausible I hope you will agree.

The fact that the cross featured is fluted at the end of each bar (I forget the correct heraldic term for this.......) adds a bit of interest to a simple design.

Hope you like it.

Thus, I give you "Carlisle and the Cumbrians", not a northern folk band, but a motley crew of northern English city militia, equipped to go and fight the Scots (if they do not get ridden down by some impetuous English noblemen first!)


The complete unit, Fireforge figures mostly, based as a "standard" unit in Hail Caesar, but flexible enough for other rulesets. As you can see, I have not standardised my red cross, but painted several variants within the unit. This is purely a choice thing. The shade of yellow has also been varied throughout the unit, from a reasonably bright new issue (left of shot), through more mustard tones to a pale cream. A couple of figures just have unpainted cloth/ leather-covered shields for further variety.

Close up of the banner, calico again and painted with water-based acrylics as always.

The chap on the right has seen some action recently. I tried some gore effects on a few shields in this unit. I am still looking for my favourite way of doing it.

The unit also features a couple of variously-dyed livery surcoats.

Essex command figure and rear rank chap with glaive alongside the usual Fireforge figures and more gore effects. I have also combat-distressed some of the shields to show a variety of age of equipment  and usage within the unit.


  1. Good looking flag and very plausible. Nice use of a variable colour palette.

    It's interesting that you mention Birmingham as the city's coat of arms and flag are actually based on the medieval arms of De Birmingham family. Sir Fulk (de) Birmingham's (indented Or and Gules) replaced those of Sir William de Birmingham's arms (the five diagonal lozenges) but both were implemented in the later flag. Both effigies of whom (it is believed) are still to be seen in the church of St Martin's in the Bullring. Although whether these colours or banners would have been carried by your commoner medieval Brummie is another matter.

    Another (slightly) interesting detail is that the traditional colours of the city of Coventry (the medieval capital of the midlands) are red and green, dating back to at least 1441.


    1. Thanks Matt.

      Even though I only live 20 miles up the road, I have not been to Birmingham in AGES!!! When I do next venture forth, however, I will certainly look up your reference at St Martin's.

      Coventry almost got the nod for this unit and may still feature in the future. As you point out, their colours are 1441 at the latest. This is one of the problems I have found, that livery colours and badges for cities tend to be Edward III's reign at the earliest. Thus, I tend to be reliant on them merely being sanctioned then, but in use well before.

      Thanks again.