Overview: There is little doubt that Caledonian tribes of Scotland would have been aware of the mighty reputation of the Romans well in advance of their attempts to extend the borders of their Empire northwards. Since AD 43 the Romans had conquered southern England and bloodily suppressed Boudica’s rising. However, the fierce Caledonians had decided they were not going to be subject to Rome rule, even if it meant that they had to make a fight of it!
It started in AD 79 when Agricola, the Roman governor of Britannia, sent a fleet to survey and map Scotland’s coast. By AD 83 Agricola had advanced conquering southern Scotland and the Caledonian tribes to the north knew that they faced immanent invasion.
It was at this point that the Roman historian Tacitus records that the Caledonians "turned to armed resistance on a large scale". Obviously recognising the might of the highly disciplined Roman war machine, the Caledonians employed guerrilla tactics attacking individual Roman forts and small troop movements. In one surprise night-attack, the Caledonians nearly wiped out the whole 9th legion; it was only saved when Agricola’s cavalry rode to the rescue.
By the summer of AD 84 Agricola and his legions had pushed deep into the Caledonian homelands in the north-east of Scotland. It was on this march, at a place the Romans recorded as Mons Graupius (somewhere in the Grampian Mountains, perhaps at Bennachie by Inverurie), that the Caledonians made the fatal error of confronting them head on.
It is said that some 30,000 Caledonians faced a Roman army of about half that size. It is also recorded that the Caledonians had the advantage of the higher ground, but just like Boudicca some 40 years earlier, they lacked the organisation, discipline and military tactics of the Roman legions.
The tightly packed Roman ranks relied upon their short stabbing sword in combat. Their front ranks were made up of auxiliary troops conscripted from Germany, Holland and Belgium, with the seasoned veterans of Roman legionaries holding things together towards the rear. Bloody hand to hand fighting followed and at one point the Caledonians, with their numerical supremacy managed to outflank the Romans, but once again the highly mobile Roman cavalry rode into action to save the day for them.
With that cavalry charge it appears that any hopes of a Caledonian victory vanished and in the bloodbath that followed 10,000 men were slaughtered. As well as those who fought valiantly to the bitter end, many fled into the surrounding forests and mountains burning their houses and killing their own wives and children in fear of Roman reprisals.
On the following day Tacitus records, "...the hills were deserted, houses smoking in the distance, and our scouts did not meet a soul."
Following their defeat at the Battle of Mons Graupius, the Caledonian tribes must have considered that their days were numbered, but then luck intervened. The Emperor Domition ordered Agricola back to Rome to help resolve the more pressing military crisis on the Rhine and Danube frontiers.
The Romans re-entrenched southwards and Hadrian’s Wall was built in 122AD between the Solway and the Tyne estuaries, establishing the northern most frontier of the Empire. Hadrian’s successor as emperor, Antoninus Pius, attempted yet again to push the frontier further north between the rivers Forth and Clyde and built his own wall, the Antonine Wall.
The Antonine Wall was built mainly for propaganda purposes as it was seen as expanding the boundaries of the Empire, but on his death it was abandoned in favour of Hadrian’s Wall.
With the exception of some minor border skirmishes, a period of peace was established along this frontier that lasted for more than a century.
During this time the tribes to the north of the wall were left unmolested and united to form the Pictish nation. The Picts’ name first appears in 297 AD and comes from the Latin Picti, meaning ‘painted people’.
By 306 AD however, united and better organized, the Emperor Constantius Chlorus was forced to protect his northern frontier against Pictish attacks on Hadrian’s Wall.On several fronts throughout Europe the tide was slowly turning against the mighty Roman Empire.
As Rome weakened the Picts became bolder, until in 360 AD together with the Gaels from Ireland they launched a coordinated invasion across Hadrian’s Wall. The Emperor Julian dispatched legions to deal with them but too little lasting effect. The Pictish raids cut deeper and ever deeper into the south.
The Roman system of law and order broke down and the wall itself was eventually abandoned and in 411 AD. The Roman legions left British shores to deal with the barbarian crisis at the heart of the empire. The Romano-Britons that remained hired other barbarians, the Angles and Saxons, to help defend them against the Picts. And so, in a final twist of irony, it would appear that it was the Scots themselves that were responsible for creating the ‘Neighbours from Hell’!
This faction overhaul will be released with 1.2
This faction overhaul adds 13 new units to the Caledonians. Here are some pictures of the new units:
Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
(Caledonic Spearmen) In large groups of spearmen the weapon's technique can be taken to another level, with many varied defensive formations requiring excellent discipline and training, but increasing the effectiveness of the unit. Caledonian Spearmen specialise in the shieldwall technique, providing a solid wall against charges and making them a huge stopping force, adept at holding a line and defending the weaker units behind them.
(Caledonic Noble Warriors) Often a Chieftain will have need of a strong, elite, professional force to help keep the unruly nature of the Caledonian people under control. The Chief's Men are normally armed to the teeth, with the best equipment, full mail, spears and large shields.
(Caledonic Light Infantry) In times of war farmers are forced from their farms and grouped hastily, and if they are lucky, given some kind of simple weapon to fight with. Unsurprisingly, farmers are undisciplined troops who are better at fleeing than they are fighting.
(Caledonic Militia) Common throughout Britain, spear-armed militias are commoners and peasants who have been called or forced into local warbands to defend settlements and bolster armies. Given some brief instruction and a long spear and shield, these units are useful in support roles for heavier and better units.
Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
(Caledonic Clubmen) The disadvantage of fighting naked is that these men have no armour to protect them, and so must survive on skill alone. Their primitive maces and targe shields at least give them something to defend themselves with, but it is their ability to frighten the enemy with a good charge that give the Caledonian the edge in battle.
(Caledonic Heavy Infantry) Professional warriors, men who live to fight, and their skill and strength far surpasses that of any levy unit. Armed with longswords and targes, these men make a worthy addition to any army, and, if used rightly, can dominate the field. They are quite unruly, however, and may not wait for guidance before leading the attack.
(Caledonic Melee Infantry) The sword is an expensive weapon, and few are rich enough to buy one, but often when a man captures a sword in battle, he will keep that sword and pass it down through the generations, as a symbol of safety.
Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
(Caledonic Skirmishers) The javelin is a common sight on the battlefields of Britain. The Caledonian have used this weapon for as long as their elders can recall, and make good use of their experience with the weapon. Caledonian Javelinmen arm themselves lightly and make up for this with speed and skill.
(Caledonic Archers) Skilled hunters who have little experience in the ways of war. Whilst unarmoured and equipped with weaponry better suited to their trade, when called upon to engage the enemy in close quarters or in a skirmish, these men are capable of fighting with a determination that belays their lack of formal training.
(Caledonic Medium Archers) Drawn from the highlands these men are armed with a standard shortbow and a one-handed axe for melee and if lucky enough some form of padded armour.
Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
(Caledonic Heavy Cavalry) Often a Chieftain will have need of a strong, elite, professional force to help keep the unruly nature of the Caledonian people under control. The Chief's Men are normally armed to the teeth, with the best equipment, full mail, spears and large shields.
(Caledonic Skirmisher Cavalry) This light cavalry unit is accustomed to raiding and skirmishing and can quickly be overcome in a prolonged melee with the wrong enemy. Equipped with tunics and a spear, this unit can run rings around your opponent and chase down skirmishers with ease.
(Caledonic Bodyguards) The Chief's Warband are hand-picked from the best amongst Caledonian nobles and warriors for the sole purpose of protecting their leader from harm. They are armed with superb equipment, including swords and targe shields.
Playing as one of the britannic tribes (other than Iceni) is challenging and interesting if one wants a change of pace from the traditional "civilized" factions. I did a head-to-head campaign as Dumnonii against another player playing Caledones in the IA campaign (using AFP submod) and it was one of the toughest games I've had so far. These new units will spice up the flavor in Britannia even more!
These guys look great, I always enjoy a new faction and new starting positions
Just one quick question.. the description mentions Slegowiri Kaledonakoi being able to use shield wall. Can the Akroviri Kaledonakoi do the same (their description doesn't mention it)? They look twice the warriors those Slegowiri are.
Not exactly. There's some difference later on anyway, with different language groups and things, and migration to and from Ireland and the like. Frankly I don't know much about it, but there is a difference.
The Scots and Picts aren't the same people, are they?
Like most countries it's a bit of a melting pot situation. Modern Scotland encompasses Pictland, but also includes areas that were previously predominantly Irish (Dál Riata, west), Anglo-Saxon (Bernicia, lowlands), Brythonic (Alt Clut, south-west), and Norse (Kingdom of the Isles, Shetland, Orkney).
The Irish Gaelic culture eventually won out and then slowly became more and more Anglo-Saxon as the balance of power shifted from the clans to the lowlands. Some small parts of those old cultures still exist in their respective areas - mainly on the islands for obvious reasons. That's how I see it at least, though sources on the formation of Scotland from the various kingdoms tend to be fairly hazy.