Barrows, Standing Stones and Cairns

Materials and Equipment:
Extruded Polystyrene (1 ½” thick)
Modelling Sand
Various Flocks
Light Green Coarse Grass Flock
Burnt Grass Coarse Flock
Olive Green Clump Foliage
PVA Glue
Craft Knife
Hot Wire Cutter
Sand Paper
Chaos Black Paint
Codex Grey Paint
Scorched Brown Paint
Graveyard Earth Paint
Kommando Kharki Paint
Bleach Bone Paint
Camo Green Paint

They heard of the Great Barrows, and the green mounds, and the stone-rings upon the hills and in the hollows among the hills. Sheep were bleating in flocks. Green walls and white walls rose. There were fortresses on the heights.


The Barrow downs are among the oldest surviving mannish structures upon western Middle-earth. Early in the First Age, the ancestors of the Edain crossed the Misty Mountains and settled for a time in the region of Bree-land, then an inviting and unpeopled region. The Edain established themselves on the northern Barrow downs, building earthen forts in defense against their enemies. The soil upon the downs was poor, but the land surrounding Bree Hill was rich and fertile, and their community prospered. There these adventurous men buried their kings and queens in entombed barrows, or mounds, at the tops of hills near the ancient fort; often they erected large rings of stone upon the green hillocks as funereal monuments.


As with any terrain project it is a good idea to get some inspiration and research done.

I am lucky enough to live near an ancient standing stone of Kits Coty so can easily visit that for some inspiration.

If you don't live near something like this you can always do an image search.

Barrows are slightly harder as they are most often protected by some heritage trust and as such will be well maintained and upkept and so unnatural, but you can still find pictures that will be suitable.

Cairns are a man made pile of stones, and are sometimes used to bury the dead when the ground is to hard to dig.

The Barrows

The first thing that needs to be done is to take a piece of polystyrene and draw out a barrow shape. The long barrow style here is about 8” wide and 11” long. Draw out a shape that will form the inner chamber. This should be about an inch inside the main shape. Cut this out with a hot wire cutter.

Once it is cut out begin to shape the slope of the barrow.

Once you are happy with the shaping, take some sand paper and sand the slope to remove any defects that may have occurred due to the use of the hot wire cutter.

Now using the hot wire cutter, cut out the inner chamber. Trace around the top of the barrow on to another piece of polystyrene and cut this out. Shape this to be the roof and again use sand paper to smooth out the finish.

You can if you have a hot wire cutter big enough cut the barrow and the lid out at the same time. Place two pieces of polystyrene together and using wooden skewers hold them in place together. Now cut the barrow out in one go. Once done remove the skewers and you have the barrow and lid cut out and fitting together smoothly.

Trace out the shape of the barrow on to some cardboard and cut this out.

On the underside stick some masking or duct tape in a criss cross manner. This will help prevent any warping. Glue the cardboard base onto the bottom of the barrow. Cover the inside walls and floor with PVA glue and sprinkle modelling sand on to it. Once dry shake off any excess.

Take some slate pieces and glue them either side of the entrance and underneath the lid on the entrance side.

Paint the entire barrow in a Scorched Brown shade of colour, there is little point in undercoating in black first as you need this to cover completely. Drybrush with Graveyard Earth, followed by Kommando Kharki and a very light drybrushing of Bleached Bone

Cover the outside of the barrow and lid in PVA and sprinkle a blended flock mix. I used the same on that was created for my gaming boards. Allow to dry and then cover again in patches with PVA. Use some light green and burn grass coarse turf and sprinkle over in a blended mix. In places glue some Olive Green Clump Foliage.

I made four barrows of various shapes and sizes, some long and some round. On two rather than use slate for the entrance I cut out bits of polystyrene to form a stone slab doorway.

The Standing Stones

These were made from pieces of polystyrene cut to size and shape. They vary in height from about 1 1/2” to 3”.

Cover them in modrock. You will notice reading my articles that I used this a lot for rock and stone pieces as it gives a solid finish and has a nice rocky texture.

If you did the research you will see that standing stones are rarely the cold grey that most wargamers seem to paint them. These were undercoated in Chaos Black they were then heavily drybrushed using Kommando Kharki and then a light drybrushing of Bleached Bone. Looking at real standing stones you will see them cover in dirt and moss. The dirt needs to be an ochre type brown and Graveyard Earth is perfect for this. The moss can be painted using Camo Green. Once dry, paint a few patches of PVA and sprinkle on some yellow flock on for the yellow fungus you see growing on a lot of standing stones. See the picture above in the Inspiration section.

The Cairns

The cairns are easily made. Take a small rectangle of card and on to this glue an off cut of polystyrene. Cover this in PVA and glue into place small pebbles building up the layers. On my cairn I wanted a stone slab top and this was made from another shaped piece of polystyrene. Once dry cut the card so that none is showing.

Undercoat it in Chaos Black and then heavy drybrush in Codex Grey, then drybrush using Kommando Kharki and then a light drybrushing of Bleached Bone. Using waterdown Camo Green paint on some mould patches. The bottom edge can be covered in a blended flock that matches your gaming table.


Using these pieces you can set up a fantastic Barrow downs board, just don't let your models get lost in the fog.