Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dark Ages Wood Keep in 28mm

A Saxon or Norman wooden keep, circa 1066, built by Herb Gundt. Some Gripping Beast Saxons sallie forth across the draw bridge. Please click or double click images to enlarge the view.

Continuing on with our tour of the contents of my famous Closet O' Lead, we now turn our attention to the Dark Ages as I invite you to take a peak at the Norman Castle Keep and hoards of Vikings and Saxons that I have collected and painted over the years. Our Dark Ages tour will continue throughout this week on my blog, so I invite you to check in on a daily basis to see what wonderful things I can find that have been lost in the Closet O' Lead.

Our tour starts with a wonderful 28mm model of a wooden Norman fortification or "keep" that might have been built soon after William the Conqueror's victory over Harold at Hastings. The Normans did not have time to build sturdy castles of stone, as I imagine that they were in a bit of a hurry to throw up something at key points in England, to protect themselves and to let the locals know who was really in charge of things.

I commissioned this Norman keep with Herb some time back, probably ten or more years ago. The inspiration for it came from viewing the movie, "The Warlord", with Charlton Heston and Richard Boone. I envisioned playing some skirmish games with the then new Gripping Beast Vikings and Saxons and Normans and I wanted a place for my warlord to reside. Flexibility was a key consideration for me as well. I wanted a moat around the keep, but I foresaw the need to remove the moat for certain game situations. So I asked Herb if he could make the keep removable from the moat base. Herb gave it some thought and came up with the following solution:

The moat and base after the removal of the wooden keep.

The picture above depicts the ingenious system that Herb engineered so that I could use the keep with or without the moat. The keep can be removed, revealing a round base and key that fit into the keyhole that he built into the underside of the wooden keep. The key structure prevents the tower from shifting about and one simply lowers the structure onto the island and allows the key to fit snuggly inside the keyhole.

The keep shown in use without the moat. A separate dirt ramp was built so that the drawbridge could be lowered when the moat base was removed.

When I want to use the keep on dry land, we figured that we would need some kind of a dirt ramp so that the drawbridge would have something to rest on in the down position. When the keep is attached to the moat base, the lowered drawbridge rests on the far bank of the moat. Without the ramp, the drawbridge would dangle in thin air and probably break. So kudos to Herb Gundt for building this castle and for thinking up the ideas for engineering the base system.

A closer view of the wooden parapet, which lifts off so that figures can be placed inside the keep.

As with most of my buildings made by Herb, the roof lifts off so that figures can be placed inside for skirmish games or to simply hide your forces from the view of the enemy, be they ferocious Viking raiders or angry Saxon villagers.

A final view of Gripping Beast and Foundry Vikings in the front "battle" and Gripping Beast and Essex Saxons in the rear "battle".

The above picture provides a teaser of things to come over the next couple of days. So do come back and pay us another visit as we take a closer look at my collection of Saxons and Vikings. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment on this blog entry, or contact me via e mail at:


Sharpen up your broadswords and I will see you tomorrow.


  1. What a fabulous keep. Looking forward to more dark age piccies.

    You are getting me inspired to finish off painting some of my saxons and vikings

    -- Allan

  2. Glad you are doing a walkthrough like this, a lot of fun!

    As always, I love your stuff.

    BTW, is the blue towel also a Herb Gundt piece?:)