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Border Reivers

25mm Medieval Participation

The borderlands of England and Scotland at the end of the 16th century were a turbulent place to live. The clans and families of the borders engaged in extortion, raids, terrorism and blood feuds that meant that no man could sleep at night without the risk that his home, livestock, or even family would be the target of a “ride” by vicious raiders from over the border. For that matter he was as much at risk from his fellow countrymen, for Scot raided Scot and Englishman pillaged Englishman just as readily as they raided each other. The protection rackets operated by the Reivers would have put the mobsters of Chicago to shame.

The law in the borders was in the hands of the Wardens, usually one for each of the three Marches either side of the border, but the line between Warden and Reiver was a thin one and, often encouraged by London or Edinburgh, a Warden would raid the marches on the other side of the border as much for his own benefit as to follow his government’s wishes.

Our games today are a series of linked scenarios recreating some of the actions from the borders in the feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstones. Each game will last around an hour, and can accommodate four players. In the games the players could be on opposing sides, uneasy allies for a specific raid, or members of the same extended family united against a common foe.

If you would like to take part, please speak to any of the members to book a slot.

Our main reference for today’s games is The Steel Bonnets, Fraser, G.M., London, 1971. The rules are loosely based on Reiver by Dropwing Games. The terrain and buildings are scratch built, and the figures are by Redoubt – some standard and some converted.


The game during playtesting.


Fighting by the stream.


View from above.


One of the scratchbuilt stone houses that cost the modeller John half the skin on his thumb !


The target of the border raids - Aberdeen Angus !


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