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Battle of Baginbun (1170 AD)
The Normans "Stampede" the Norse Irish

By Tim Donovan

The Normans, ostensibly as mercenaries, invaded Ireland in 1169 at the behest of the exiled King of Leinster, Dermot Mac Murrough. Chief among the invaders was Earl Richard "Strongbow," a Welsh marcher Lord who had fallen into disfavor with King Henry. The Earl had many friends and relatives among the Welsh marcher Lords who were in similar or even more desperate situation and were eager for new lands and to place distance between them and a hostile king. While the Earl continued preparations in Wales, for he would not land till August of 1170, others prepared the way for him. One such adventurer was Raymond le Gros. Strongbow sent him ahead to secure a beachhead at Baginbun. It was an excellent choice for this headland boasted old fortifications, a never failing springwell, and a fine beach and cove for anchoring or beaching their ships. From this point they could command the sea approaches to Waterford, the next objective in their campaign since Wexford had surrendered peacefully to Robert FitzStephen the pervious year.

Raymond and a small band of knights, men-at-arms and Welsh landed here, and were later reinforced by Hervey de Monte Marisco with an even smaller force. The small army built a makeshift stockade and were in the process of augmenting these fortifications and gathering cattle from the local area when the Ostmen of Waterford and their Irish allies struck.

Greatly outnumbered, Raymond is forced into a hasty retreat with the enemy in so close of a pursuit that they begin to swarm into the stockade before the barricade can be closed. In desperation Raymond counter-attacks by driving the herd of recently gathered cattle out amongst the attackers. This ruse de guerre throws the whole Norse Irish army into disarray and the Normans exploit their advantage to rout the whole army while wounding, killing and capturing over 1,000 Norse and Irish.

The Standard Scenario

I just had to include this battle in my collection of Irish scenarios to do justice to the noble cattle of Ireland and their valiant attack across the field of Baginbun. Needless to say, unlike all of my other scenarios that include a Big Battle variant, this one will do just fine with 12 elements as I doubt many people want to paint up a multitude stampeding cow elements.

The Armies:

  • Norse Irish: 3 Bd (Waterford Ostmen), 6 Ax (Bonnachts), 3 Ps (Kern) or 2 Ps and 1LH.

  • Norman: 2 Kn/Bd (Knights), 2 Cv/Sp (men-at-arms), 2 Sp (Flemish mercenaries), 2 Bw or Ps (Welsh bows), 4 SCh (stampeding cattle).

Terrain: Impassable ocean should extend in around a small headland, about 4 or 5 elements wide, on the Norman base edge. Ensure the area is large enough to fit all 12 elements and then seal this area off with a ditch or palisade. The point of land then should open up quickly into a an open plain with just a scattering of woods and bogs.

Deployment: The Norse Irish deploy first, including their baggage, followed by the Normans.

Special Rules for Stampeding cattle: The Norman player must spend a pip to control each element, or group of elements of the stampeding cattle, or they simply charge a full move straight ahead attacking, or attempting to attack, any element that at anytime falls within 1 base width of their zone of control.

Victory Conditions: Normal victory conditions apply other that each element of stampeding cattle count as 1/2 element destroyed, or as none destroyed if they safely exit any board edge.

Background Resources

The Norman Invasion of Ireland, Richard Roche, 1995, Anvil
Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare: Middle Ages, 1996, Hooper & Bennet,
Early Medieval Ireland, Daibhi O' Croinin, 1995, Longman History of Ireland
Medieval Warfare Sourcebook, David Nicolle, 1995, Arms and Armour

Armies of the Dark Ages, Ian Heath,
DBM Army Lists, Book 3 : 476 AD to 1071 Ad

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Last Update: Oct. 21, 2003

My thanks to Tim Donovan for this scenario. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.