Sunday 13 June 2021

Scots Pike part II

The second batch of Scots Pike is complete, it's been a real marathon but a worthy prize I think you'll agree.

As with the first batch my thinking was to use banners not affiliated to particular nobles nor depict any livery badges of specific retinues so that the figures could have a greater range and not be tied.

I have also adopted the format of heavy armour in the front ranks through to mid then no armour. Almost all figures have some sort of conversion, they've been 10 months in the making.

You can view more on the development of the first batch here

Here follows some photographs of the unit prior to basing with accompanying narrative. First up is the whole group forming up under instruction of their commanders, heavily armoured in the front ranks leading through to no armour in the rear.

Men in the front ranks in full to mid armour of modern and older styles.

The levies, men from the Lowlands and towns wearing their own coats with livery badges, Two men  wear livery coats. The figures are all conversions, some use Steelfist Miniatures Tudor dollies and others have a coat sculpted on to the Perry plastics.

Men in quilted jacks. All created from the Perry Miniatures Mercenaries set with minimal conversion apart from the figure in breastplate with cap over his steel bonnet.

A couple of close ups

Now on to the command.

I was in two minds as to whether to include the gentleman with the two handed sword as initially I could find lots of information regarding the Scots fondness for a 'tua handit sword' with plenty of examples both in the Lowlands and the Highlands but no specific mention of their use at Flodden or indeed in a pike block. I chose to go for it then a few weeks later found exactly what I was looking for in 'The Two Handed Sword, History, design and use' by Neil Melville, extract as follows [abridged];

The Scottish chronicler Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie described an incident in the battle of Flodden involving the Earl of Huntly's highlanders;

'The Earl of Huntlieis hieland men wicht thair bowis and tua handit swordis wrocht sa manfullie that they defait the Inglischemen'

John Muirhead, one of James IV's bodyguards being the subject of a ballad, one verse relates how;

'Afore the king in order stude / The stout laird of Muirhead / Wi' that sam twa-hand muckle sword / The Bartram fell'd stark deid.'

An English two handed sword, known as the 'Fingask' sword has been on the market twice, reputed in family tradition to have been wielded at the battle of Flodden.

Highland, Lowland and English references. I am most happy with that.

As with the previous pike unit I have chosen to depict a Scots nobleman in the latest imported armour (converted Steelfist Miniatures) in discussion with a French Man at Arms who wears a fine damask coat over his armour (converted Perry Miniatures command from the Mercenaries box) Here's a close up of the coat;

The standard bearers carry banners dedicated to St Margaret

I chose these banners primarily on the basis of their mention in historical record. This extract from the Treasurer’s Accounts describes last minute arrangements to buy cloth to make banners and standards for the army, to buy gold thread to decorate the king’s armour with details of the cost to transport lighter weapons to Coldstream;

The document reads / translates as follows;

'August 1513

Item, for four ells of blue taffeta to make Saint Andrew’s and Saint Margaret’s banners, price of the ell 20s; Total £4

Item, for four ells of red taffeta to be the king’s banner, price of the ell 20s; Total £4

Item, for 14 ounces of sewing silk to be fringes to the banners and standards, price of the ounce 5s; Total £3 10s

Item, 3 ells of taffeta to be the king’s standard, price of the ell 20s, Total £3

Item, to a woman that made the fringes for the banner and standards, 40s

Item, for 4 sheep skins to be cases to keep the banner and standards in, price 14s

Item for the making of them in haste 4s

Item, for 10 hanks of gold given to the captain of the castle’s wife for the king’s coat armour, price of the hank 5s; Total 50s

Item, to a man to wait for the standards to bring them with him in haste that night that the king’s grace will depart from Edinburgh 10s

Item, the 19 day of August, for a set of harnesses to the King’s grace bought from Sir David Guthrie for the which he has my obligation of £40

Item, to the constable of the castle of Edinburgh at our departing to England, the last day we were in the castle, to furnish us all with the necessary, to good account £16

Item, the 29 day of August, the king’s grace sent me home for canon wheels, gun stones and oxen.
Item, to 6 horses with gun stones, each man and horse 14s; Total £4 4s

Item, to 20 men and horse to carry 20 dozen of spears to Coldstream, each man and horse 6s; Total £6'

(Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, Vol IV, 1507-1513, p. 521-522

Unfortunately I could not find any further description of the banner which is likely to have either been heraldic or iconographic as they are each blue, so I opted to depict both.

There is an interpretation of the iconographic banner in a number of modern books but it doesn't appear to be based on a historic source.

The Iconographic banner I painted uses an image of St Margaret from a fifteenth century depiction in a prayer book and the heraldic banner takes reference from a sixteenth century depiction of St Margaret and is based in shape upon similar heraldic church banners.

Of particular note is that the heraldry is practically identical to that of Edward the Confessor whose banner was carried by English Armies at Agincourt and emulating his forbears by Henry VIII in his French campaign of 1513.

When photographed together with the first batch they make for quite a sight.

Seeing them together, I just want to paint more ! I think a third batch with Flodden specific flags could really set them off. We shall have to wait and see.

I hope this has made for an interesting read, I've had a lot of fun creating these and I think it shows.

Next up I think the Celtic theme shall continue but with something of an Irish theme. 

If you'd like to see work on the unit as it is put together this blog now has a Facebook group where you can find progress updates on units as I build them, interesting discussion and sharing of collections, video tutorials and lots more.

All the best and take care



  1. Stunning looking unit Stuart. Yes please do another pike block!

  2. Impressive achievement in so many ways - they really look the part for Floden.

  3. Superb results but then like the rest of your followers I've come to expect little else. Really enjoyed your research and rationale for this unit result.

  4. Absolutely splendid. Look forward to seeing more.

  5. Choose your superlative! I've really enjoyed every posting you make and find your dedication to taking time on the research, modelling and painting to be inspirational. I wish you well with the next step in your odyssey.

  6. Superb work once again Stuart, with the 'history' bit a nice bonus too:)

  7. Impressive and inspirational work, well researched and beautifully executed! 😍

  8. Great post Stuart, it was great to see these chaps march across the border as my English forces crumbled! I love all the background information on your thoughts in building the unit.

  9. Beautifully done Stuart…

    All the best. Aly

  10. my thesaurus is running out of superlatives for your work.

  11. Fabulous research, and beautiful looking figures. I remain in awe of the damask 👍

  12. Splendid looking Scottish pike,lovingly researched and delightfully rendered!
    Best Iain

  13. These are all outstandingly good....hope to see them reversing history at Flodden sometime soon!

  14. Lovely stuff Stuart, great read and spectacular results on the unit. Nice

  15. Beautifully crafted and painted. Meticulously researched. Just another day at the office for Mr Mulligan. Superb work Stuart.

  16. I am stunned! Superb