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Skuld Darkhair attacks the Scots in the Battle of Lindisfarn
DBA battle pitting III/40 Vikings vs. III/24 Middle Anglo-Saxon
By Neldoreth
Apr 20th, 2009

This game was played as part of the Circa 800 DBA Campaign

Again the spring came, as it did every year. People moved their flocks from their barnyards to the upper fields. Farmers tilled their good earth to make ready for planting in hopes of a good harvest. And, just as the people prepared for the sun of spring, so did the warlards. Marching their armies over the lands of the people without regard for their welfare. War would be made, blood would be shed, and another generation of people would suffer for the benefit of the bloodthirsty warlords...

By Spring, Skuld Darkhair, king of Norway and Norlaw, had made his plans. During the long winter Skuld had pondered the position of his realm. It stood weakly on the edge of the great island, a target to all the kingdoms that surrounded him. But no kingdom posed more of the threat than the Scots-Saxons to the north; not only could they march on Norway through Jarrow, but Lindisfarn represented a direct route to the Norwegian shores of Bergen (see the campaign map for more context). So it was with a heavy heart that Skuld mustered his hird from their overwintering and marched north to Lindisfarn... They made ready for a long siege, as they had fought at Jarrow, but it was not to be. Just as they were setting their weapons, King Ceowulf marched his Scots-Saxons toward the city to relieve it from the Viking threat.

Skuld's Norwegian Vikings (red) form their line and begin their long march to the Scots-Saxon (green) lines.

Skuld signalled his battle hornsman to sound the muster, and the Norwegian hird formed their line. There was a time of tension as Skuld held his hird in, forcing the Scots-Saxons to look upon their enemies and know what was coming. Then the long, slow march began. The Vikings shattered the silence with war cries and the slamming of axe against shield. But the leadership of King Ceowulf held strong, and the Saxon line did not waver.

Skuld called his Viking line (red) to split to meet the Saxon shieldwall; the Saxon (blue) king refused to leave the hill, Skuld was happy to let him stay there.

Despite many challeneges sent, the king of the Saxons Ceowulf refused to make battle. On top of his hill he stood and surveyed the Vikings of Skuld as they marched on the Scots-Saxons lines. When battle was near and the smell of sweat and fear played in the noses of the warriors, Skuld called for his left line to halt. It was such that King Ceowulf of the Saxons refused to come down from his high hill; Skuld was happy to let him stay there. Skuld called for his line to split, his right wing would destroy the Scots-Saxons on the right. Skuld would return for Ceowulf at his convenience... Skuld's confidence was strong, but there was always the possibility that splitting the lines would allow the Scots-Saxons to get behind him...

The lines finally closeed. The battle began on the right flank, while the Norwegians (red) waited at the bottom of the hill on the left/centre for the Scots-Saxon (green) King to come down.

Haefnir, Skuld's second in command held the hird on the left from the edge of the hill; he would not stray close enough to give the Scots-Saxon general the uphill advantage if he decided to charge. On the right Skuld charged his warriors forward and the lines finally clashed. Despite Skuld's overall advantage of numbers (the Scots-Saxons began the battle with 11 elements, the Vikings 12), the right flank was an even match in numbers with five Viking elements to five Scots-Saxon elements. Despite this, one of the Saxon elements was merely skirmishers. And for the Vikings, Skuld himself lead the right flank... The advantage went to the vikings, and so the right flank could very well win or lose the battle for either Skuld or Ceowulf.

The Scots-Saxons (green) faught bravely, but they did not stand against the Viking (red) onslaught.

Skuld's first charge sent the Scots-Saxons lines back in disarray. The Saxon skirmishers fled, while the Saxon spear was pushed back. Skuld himself, along with his guard destroyed and scattered an element of the Scots-Saxon spearmen, and the battle on the right now leaned more hevily in the favour of Skuld's Vikings.

Despite their initial success, hours of battle went by as the Viking (red) and Saxon (green) shieldwalls on the right flank clashed to now end.

After the successful first charge, the battle ground down to a slow shoving match on the right flank. Despite charge after charge and the clashing of spear and axe and blade, hours went by without anything being decided. Skuld's patience began to grow thin as he chafed to come to blows with the Scots-Saxon king Ceowulf!

While the battle raged on the right the Saxon (green) king Ceowulf moved to bring aid to the beleagured right flank. Meanwhile the Vikings (red) destroyed another element of Saxon spearmen there.

On the left flank, the Viking and Saxon lines still had yet to close. Many insults and challenges were called, but no battle was made. All the while, the Scots-Saxon King Ceowulf slowly gave back from the hill, giving it to the Vikings as they came slowly. His plan was to move to aid the beleagured Scots-Saxon spearmen on the right flank... But could he get there in time to turn the tide? As if the fates had answered his question, another element of Saxon spear on the right flank were destroyed at the hands of Skuld's Vikings.

The Scots-Saxon (green) skirmishers (psiloi) were trapped and destroyed by the vikings.

As King Ceowulf of the Scots-Saxons continued to make his way to the right flank to lift the viking attack there, Skuld's hirdmen trapped and destroyed the Saxon skirmishers. Down three elements to none, the Scots-Saxons position looked perilous. Skuld, seeing the pressure on the Saxon spearmen, offered Ceowulf an opportunity to leave the battlefield; Skuld was happy to see the battle end sooner rather than later. But alas, Ceowulf reluctantly declined and the battle continued; there was a chance to destroy the Viking king, which would leave the Vikings weakened for ongoign war in the future...

Skuld and his Vikings (red - Skuld's element carries a raven banner) repositioned just in time to free himself from the Saxon (green) trap! Meanwhile the Vikings and Saxons on the left flank finally clashed! The Scots-Saxon player is wondering what happened to his right flank!

Focused on destroying the Saxons spearmen on the right flank, Skuld made a near fatal error. King Ceowulf of the Scots-Saxons had moved his fyrd into a position that forced Skuld's guard to take notice; Skuld had no choice but to turn and face the coming Saxon threat. Fortunately a second element of Vikings turned from the remaining two Scots-Saxon spear elements on the far right and pinned down Ceowulf and his advancing Saxons. This gave Skuld the precious time he had needed to reform his line and meet Ceowulf in battle!

Meanwhile, in their slow chase the Vikings on the left flank finally clashed with the Scots-Saxons there. The fighting was heavy, but ultimately it ended in a stalemate on the left flank; the Vikings failed to get the upper hand on the left thanks to the viking archers there. And so, an endless shoving match that would last for the remainder of the battle ensued.

The fighting on the right flank spread to include both the left flank (not pictured) and the centre. The Saxons (green) were beset on all sides and outnumbered by the Vikings (red).

Skuld, forming a line with another element brought battle to the Saxons that were formerly with the Scots-Saxon king. At the same time, Haefnir, Skuld's second in command charged his line forward and clashed shields and blades with the Scots-Saxon king and his royal guard. Along with this, the battle on the right flank continued as well. Ultimately, nothing would be decided, and although the Saxons king was forced back, not all the Saxons were forced back in the fighting; after hours of battle, Skuld's vikings were growing weary in the face of fresh Scot-Saxon spearmen!

The battle ended on the right flank when another Scots-Saxon (green) spear element was destroyed by the attacking Vikings (red).

The fighting became perilous for both the Vikings and the Scots-Saxons as the lines were broken in the middle and on both flanks. But it was on the right flank that the battle was decided. The fighting on the right flank had been raging for hours, and both the Viking and the Saxon lines were tiring from the exertion. And so it was that the outnumbered Scots-Saxon spearmen were bested by the blades of the Vikings. As news reached King Ceowulf that his right flank had fallen beyond aid, he ordered his Scots-Saxons to march back to Dumbarton and the safety of it's high walls!

The last turn of battle before the Scots-Saxon king called for his spearmen to retreat to Dumbarton.

As the battle ended on the right flank, it still raged in the centre and on the left. The Saxon King Ceowulf was able to force his attackers back and out of their line in the centre, while the vikings forced the Saxon spearmen to give way on the left flank, but nothing further was truly decided before Ceowulf called the retreat. Skuld held his vikings from the pursuit; exhausted they turned to Lindisfarn's open gates to see the Scotish nobles flee along with Ceowulf's army, back to the safety of Dumbarton.

Before Skuld let loose his hird to take what they would from the city, he first drafted a message for the Scots-Saxon king. The message outlined terms for the Scots-Saxons to pay tribute to Norway, and save more carnage from the Scots-Saxon peoples. Ceowulf agreed with a heavy heart.... For his people... and Scots-Saxonia became a tributary of Skuld and Norway.

What a nail biter. For me as the Viking player, there were some hairy moments when my general was almost caught and overlapped by the Scots-Saxon general... In a campiagn losing the general means losing three elements from your army! Roger (the Saxon general) was a pleasure to play was well... Although, the extra pressure of losing a battle in a campaign makes it harder for everyone.... Thanks Rog!