Norse Irish


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Historical Overview Section

The Norse are first recorded in Ireland in 795 when they sacked Lambay Island. Sporadic raids then continued until 832, after which they began to build fortified settlements throughout the country. Norse raids continued throughout the tenth century, but resistance to them increased. They suffered several defeats at the hands of Máel Sechnaill II, and in 1014 Brian Boru broke the power of the Norse permanently at Clontarf. The Norse had also established independent kingdoms in Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Limerick. These kingdoms did not survive the subsequent Norman invasions.

Clontarf is a highly significant battle in Irish history. Brian Boru had established a degree of control over Ireland, but the offshore vikings from orkney and further afield still held considerable influence. As Brian attempted to consolidate his control, a number of Viking leaders saw an opportunity to wrest control of the kingdom back from this local chap who had already done the hard work of pacifying the various factions on the island. The last local kingdom to fall to Brian was owned by Queen Gormlaith, who texted Sigurd Lodvesson, the Viking earl of the Orkney Isles, to come to her aid. He not only agreed, but in turn contacted Brodir of the Isle of Man to join the fight. Sigurd and Brodir both planned on killing the other after the battle to take the seat of High King for themselves. In 1014, Brian's army had mustered and set off towards Dublin. As they approached, the Irishmen of Meath, commanded by ex-high king Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, refused to take part in the battle. This left him with 4,500 men, outnumbering the 1,000 or so under Sigtrygg, but considerably worse equipped in comparison.

The Viking army formed up into five divisions on the field, while Sigtrygg and 1,000 of his men remained in town. Sigtrygg's son commanded the extreme left of the line with 1,000 of the men from Dublin who decided to fight in the open. Máel Mórda added another 3,000 men from Leinster in two divisions. Although numerous, they too were poorly armed in comparison to the Vikings on either side. Sigurd's Orkney Vikings manned the center with 1,000 men, and Brodir's Vikings added another 1,000 or more on the right, on the beaches.

Brian's forces were arranged in a similar fashion. On the right (the Viking left) were 1,000 foreign mercenaries and Manx Vikings. Next to them, 1,500 clansmen of Connacht were gathered under their kings, while more than 2,000 Munster warriors under Brian's son Murchad continued the front, flanked by 1,400 Dal Caissans on the extreme left led by Murchad's 15-year-old son, Tordhelbach, and Brian's brother, Cuduiligh. Off to the right and several hundred yards to the rear stood Máel Sechnaill's 1,000 men who simply watched.

The battle opened with several personal taunts between men in either line, often ending with the two men marching out into the middle of the field to enter personal battle, while the forces on either side cheered. While this went on the two groups slowly edged towards each other. They engaged early in the morning.

At first the battle went the Vikings' way, with their heavier weapons prevailing over their opponents as everyone had expected. This advantage also served Brian, whose Viking mercenaries on his right slowly pushed back the forces facing them. On the left, Brodir himself led the charge and gained ground, until he met the warrior Wolf the Quarrelsome, brother of King Brian. Although Wolf was unable to break Brodir's armor, he knocked him to the ground and Brodir fled to hide. This left the now leaderless Viking force facing Murchad's forces, who considered themselves the "king's own" (containing many of Brian's more distant relatives) and by the afternoon Brodir's forces were fleeing to their ships.

In the center things were going more the Vikings' way. Both Sigurd's and Máel Mórda's forces were hammering into the Munster forces. However Sigurd, according to legend, carried a "magical" standard into battle which drew the Irish warriors to it, eventually forcing their way in and killing the bearer. Although the standard was supposed to guarantee a victory for the bearer's forces, it also guaranteed the bearer's death. No one would pick it up due to its reputation, so Sigurd did and was quickly killed.

By the end of the day, after several mutual pauses for rest, the Vikings found themselves with both flanks failing, Sigurd dead, and everyone exhausted. The beaches in front of the ships were already lost, and many men took to trying to swim to the ships further offshore, drowning in the process. The battle was now clearly going Brian's way, and the Dublin Vikings decided to flee to the town. At this point Máel Sechnaill decided to re-enter the battle, and cut them off from the bridge. The result was a rout, with every "invading" Viking leader being killed in the battle.

Meanwhile Brodir, hiding in the woods near Dublin, noticed Brian praying in his tent. Gathering several followers they ran into the tent and killed him and his retainers. Then they retreated, with Brodir yelling, Now let man tell man that Brodir felled Brian. According to Viking accounts, he was eventually tracked, captured and gruesomely killed by Wolf the Quarrelsome with whom he had clashed earlier on the battlefield.

Of the 6,500 to 7,000 Vikings and allied forces, an estimated 6,000, including almost all the leaders, were killed. Irish losses were at least 4,000, including their king and most of his sons. There was no longer any clear line of succession. With the Irish now leaderless, and the power of the Vikings as a political force broken, Ireland soon returned to a series of bloody factional fighting. However things had changed as a result of the battle, with Viking and Gaelic culture no longer contesting power. After a number of years this led to a lasting peace, and the Vikings would instead turn to England and Scotland, eventually taking power when Canute the Great was installed as King in 1015.

Using the army in FoG

  • Well, this is an army primarily of shieldless, unarmoured men with large axes and an uncomplicated doctrine. With the number of troops you have, rear support should be available for average troops. You want terrain, preferably it should provide cover as well as be rough. Difficult is OK, but it slows you down, so avoid it unless there is cover (village or forest).
  • Generally the vikings want to fight cavalry, the irish anything else, except that of course the HW is good against knights. The Vikings being an ally is tricky, as spear you quickly go to pieces if you drop, and you need to be available for bolstering.
  • Deploy the nobles early, to avoid people matching up on the more vulnerable MF. You could switch this, and another choice would be to put the MF in ambush (if only to get further across the table).

UK Tournament Results with this army

User-contributed links about this army:


The only available ally, Viking, is pretty much essential as it gives you more heavy foot, and it can be offensive spear. Because it is spear, have more spear instead of the rear rank archers.

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

This is a list of Viking manufacturers, which would be similar to the Norse Irish (of course). Maybe add in a few Later Scots-Irish for local faavour? The Norse shoudl really be without shields, which makes life harder if you are picky. A full listing of all known 15mm manufacturers for all ranges with details of who supplies what can be found in my 15mm Suppliers directory. You can see some of these figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

Image Image Image Image

Core Troops

  • Many people will have the core troops, as they are Medium foot axemen - so they are an opportunity to reuse old vikings. There aren't that many choices involved in selection, have as many nobles as possible, and the superior MF.
  • The levies are good value, and in this army the LF are important to screen your main troops. Even poor, with an IC and rear support the main risk is being autobroken by shooters rather than failing tests, but of course they need to be close enough to evade through the battleline.
  • How you split the other MF is interesting - the LS, Sword are cheaper, and in some instances as good as the HW. However they will be a target in the open so perhaps mostly use them for rear support. Have the list late so you could have cav, someone might think you should.

Army Lists

As used by a player at Britcon 2009

  • IC plus 3 TCs ( one a Viking ally)
  • 5 bgs of 6 LF ave Jls, LS
  • 1 BG of 6 LF ave sling
  • 4 BGs of 6 MF ave unpr HW
  • 1 BG of 8 MF sup, unpr, HW
  • 2 BGs of 8 HF, sup, unpr, HW
  • 3 BGs of 8 HF, ave, prot, off spear (Vikings)

800 AP list

  • 4 x 6 LF Unprotected Poor Jav, LS
  • 6 LF Unprotected Av Jav, LS
  • 2 x8 HF Unprotected Superior Heavy Wpn
  • 6 LF Unprotected Av, Sling
  • 2 x8 MF Unprotected Av Heavy Wpn
  • 1 x8 MF Unprotected Av Light SP, Sword
  • 2 x8 HF protected Av, Off Spear (Viking)
  • 1 x8 HF Armoured Sup, Off Spear (Viking)
  • 8 MF Unprotected Sup Heavy Wpn
  • IC (Brian)
  • TC, TC
  • Ally FC

800 AP list with maximized Vikings (with an FC)

  • IC IC - - - - - - CinC 1
  • TC TC - - - - - - - 2
  • allied viking leader FC - - - - - - Ally general 1
  • 1 vikings HF Armoured Superior undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 8
  • 2 Viking Freemen HF protected Average undrilled - Offensive spearmen - - 8
  • 3 Viking Freemen HF protected Average undrilled - Offensive spearmen - - 8
  • 4 Viking Freemen HF protected Average undrilled - Offensive spearmen - - 8
  • 4a supporting archers LF unprotected Average undrilled bow - - - 4
  • 5 javelinmen LF unprotected Average undrilled Javelins light spear - - 6
  • 6 archers LF unprotected Average undrilled bow - - - 6
  • 7 Warriors MF unprotected Average undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 6
  • 8 Warriors MF unprotected Average undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 6
  • 9 Warriors MF unprotected Average undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 6
  • 10 Warriors MF unprotected Average undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 6
  • 11 Nobles MF unprotected Superior undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 6
  • 12 Nobles MF unprotected Superior undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 6
  • 13 Other Superior chaps MF unprotected Superior undrilled - Heavy weapon Heavy weapon - 6

Name of Army / Date

  • Using asterisks inthe edit mode creates a bulleted list in the actual site
  • This is a lot easier to do than easier than setting up tables
  • For FoG I suggest listing your army in order or march
  • with troop desctiptions on each line, for example
  • 4 HF Armoured Average Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen
  • 8 LG Undrilled Unarmoured Poor Bowen
  • Dont forget to include your Generals !!!

Include any notes you want here, including comments on how to use - or play against - the army.

Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

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Created by jonakers. Last Modification: Tuesday 12 of November, 2019 18:58:45 GMT by admin. (Version 23)
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