Re-arming The Clan Levy

The header picture shows two examples of Bardiche style blades, a popular weapon form found throughout Europe in the Late Medieval –  Early Modern period.   The original picture and additional information can be found here.

To make the newest version of highland clan levies I first took a group of painted Pendraken 1745 Jacobite pikemen (JS5) which I had recently purchased from Ian Hinds and clipped them down to half-pikes. After photographing them for a recent post, I decided that the uniformity of weapons (and pose) didn’t look like the motley horde I wanted.

I mentioned in a previous post that the shire levy under the Covenanters was a militia largely armed with muskets and pikes (although often not entirely). The clan levy owed direct allegiance to a clan chief or officer and, if not serving in the militia, were required to turn out to defend the chief’s lands.  Unless they supplied their own arms they would have had the dregs of the armories and in some cases may have had to improvise their weapons.

While I left a percentage with their half-pikes I decided to re-arm the rest with a collection of various polearms (and a few farm implements, spades and scythes mainly) that I “borrowed” from various medieval and Tudor Pendraken figures that were laying about (click to enlarge):

The two principal weapons added were halberds and various types of glaives or pole mounted bardiche. This last element included the typical Scottish forms, the Jedburgh staff (or axe) and the Lochaber axe. I also added in a smattering of bowmen as I keep finding more and more examples of their use in warfare to near the end of the 17th century.

The weapon addition was a six part process (seven if you include the removal from the original figure):

  1. Cut off the pike (or half-pike) flush with the figure’s hand
  2. Smooth and flatten the cut with a fine emory polishing bit
  3. Drill a 1/32″ diameter socket into the hand perpendicular to the remaining shaft
  4. Glue the new weapon into the socket with quick-set liquid locktite.
  5. Once set, work a layer of loctite gel into the join (I use a toothpick)
  6. Once dry, do the touch up painting and then paint on a layer of UV activated polymer.

The multiple gluing steps are necessary to holding the top-heavy weapon firmly in place.

While the process is a bit tedious, I much prefer the look of the new clan levies to their rather boring antecedents.

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