Friday, 4 February 2022

Early Medieval Houses

Having painted a 4th-5th century Roman Army, I thought I should have some buildings to represent the type of small Germanic settlement along the Rhine or Danube that they might encounter. In an earlier period I suppose the classic Iron Age round houses would have been appropriate but, from what I've read, these went out of use before this period, being mostly replaced by ridged long houses. Without going into a great deal of research, I assume these would be much the same as those used through the Saxon-Viking period in the British Isles. Peter Pig have a nice and modestly priced selection of these so I ordered a pack of three 'poor houses' and a 'small hall'. Although the hall looks a bit too English half-timbered to my eyes, my thinking is that these will also be generally suitable for use with any 'Dark Ages' Northern European scenario.

The 'poor houses' basically looked like a thatched ridge tent and differed only on that one of them had what I assume represents a fire wood pile with the wood laid horizontally whilst the others had bigger pieces of timber resting vertically against the back wall. The door end was identical on all three, down to a small clump of foliage to the left of the door (I only left this on one). As I didn't want three basically identical small houses looking like a modern estate, I modified one of them by sticking a rectangle of 10mm MDF on the underneath and chiseling away the resin ends under the thatch so I could add new detail. The resin is rather brittle and I accidentally broke off a few bits of the 'thatch' but that was easily repaired with Milliput. I added new detail using overlapping 0.25mm plastic sheet to represent planking and 0.5mm for the doors.

I was going to represent a simple cob construction for the lower walls but, as the small hall was half timbered I changed my mind and decided that this aspirational peasant would have used the same building style. The timbers are plastic strips, cut from 0.8mm sheet, with the infill a base layer of Milliput scored to represent an underlying light timber laths/wattle construction then roughly rendered with wood filler, leaving bits of the Milliput showing through.

After some helpful advise from John Boadal of the excellent Hand-Built History blog, I painted the thatch with Vallejo Khaki, dry brushed with Buff. For the 'hall' I then washed the thatch with Army Painter Dark Tone but I thought that gave too uniform an effect and hid the highlights so much that I had to reinstate them over the top so for the other buildings' thatch and for the wood on all four, I used the same technique as for my recent Sherman Tanks - two layers of Satin Mig Lucky Varnish applied by air brush then a wash of MIG-1005, Dark Brown for Green Vehicles Enamel Wash applied liberally then selectively wiped off after it had dried for an hour or so. I think this gives a better effect, especially in respect to the definition between the layers of thatch. 

I painted the plaster/daub on the walls with yellow ochre, progressively lightened with two layers of dry brushing. I guess this colour choice isn't very realistic but I thought that muddy brown walls to go with a muddy brown roof and grey-brown timber would be a bit lacking in visual appeal on the table.