Building the Rammas Echor

Tony F takes us through a Middle Earth scenery build.

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy made a few diversions from the original books – some of these were forgivable changes (although some were a bit more puzzling and unnecessary). One of these was to turn the Pelennor Fields, scene of the largest battle of the War of the Ring, into a fairly barren, scrubby plain, instead of the area of fields and farms described by Tolkein. I get why it was done – the massed ranks of thousands of CGI orcs, trolls and other beasts looked far more impressive lined up outside the gates of Minas Tirith, which wouldn’t have worked so well had they been broken up by barns and oasts. He also omitted the Rammas Echor, a defensive wall many miles in length which surrounded the whole of the fields of Pelennor. Situated along the wall were a number of forts where the garrison was stationed.

Phil and I thought it might be fun to game out the initial assault on the wall, when the defenders were thrown back to the city (Sauron’s forces however made the mistake of not leaving a small force at the gates of the wall when they advanced on Minas Tirith, giving Theoden’s Rohirrim unimpeded passage).

The closest historical equivalent to the Rammas Echor is probably Hadrian’s Wall. I used a milecastle as the basic model for my small fort, with gates front and back and a small courtyard. The wall was made from 2″ thick high-density insulation foam, of which I had just enough to make three 2′ lengths, each around 3″ high, plus the fort walls. The centre wall section has an arched gateway leading into the fort with a smaller gate at the rear of the courtyard. The basic cuts were made with a fine-toothed handsaw (ie a carpentry saw), the gateways were cut out with a hot-wire cutter which I traced around a card template. The other two wall sections each have a small bastion for archers. The faces of each wall section were scribed with a ballpoint pen to represent stone blocks.

I wanted to mimic the design of the city walls in some way, particularly the distinctive shape of the battlements. I drew out a short section of battlements and had this 3D printed; I then made a mould from silicone rubber and proceeded to mass-produce them in resin (I needed about 80 sections in the end) – the resin also happens to be almost exactly the same colour as the foam. These were attached to the walls using a No More Nails-type industrial adhesive (a solvent free version – a solvent based one would probably attack the foam) which has proved to be pretty robust.

The walls were painted over with a mix of pale grey emulsion paint, PVA and wall filler, then drybrushed pure white. I ran some thinned-down black paint around the bottom of the battlements for shading.

Wooden parts (the gates and a couple of firing platforms) were made from balsa and/or coffee stirrers with plasticard for any ironwork, then painted with cheap Hobbycraft acrylics. The firing platforms also helped strengthen the sections of wall over the gates, which were fairly weak once the gateways had been cut out.

Inside the fort I placed some thatched buildings (from Caliver Books) along with odds and ends such as barrels, carts etc. The fort was garrisoned by a couple of dozen warriors of Minas Tirith – can they hold out until the cavalry arrive …?

This post was also supposed to cover the game as well, but we’ll leave that for another day…

Author: Brigadier Tony

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