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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
#31
Quote:the increasingly uninspired-looking Mancetter.

I do think you'd need a pretty good explanation for Paulinus and Boudica meeting so very far away from London, especially bearing in mind how slowly they'd both be moving by this point (Paulinus would be dragging most of the population of London and St Albans along with him, plus all the corn supplies from these places (which the Britons were so keen to get their hands on!) - so a rapid march is out of the question...)

Quote:Virginia Water station was always favoured by Nick Fuentes, I seem to remember; not so daft if a retreat to the west is envisaged, since it is just above the Thames floodplain, although Paullinus would have been well advised to avoid South West Trains for said purpose.

Possibly this link here might be better! Odd choice, but I think see the reasoning. Not sure if I'd go for the 'retreat to the west' idea anyway though...

However, this evocative picture of the location will no doubt help with an imaginative reconstruction of the battle :-) :

[Image: 300px-Virginia_Water_railway_station_-_A...3_2005.jpg]

Most probably, though, the actual site is buried somewhere in the north/west London commuter sprawl...

Quote:This new forum software really badly (and I mean badly!) needs a preview button for numpties like me :-(

Agreed! :?

- Nathan
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#32
The recent British Archaeology report was by Steve Kaye, he concludes pointing at Silchester, the BA article synopsis is here;

http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba114/feat3.shtml

Steve's main write up can be found here;

http://www.bandaarcgeophysics.co.uk/Boud...alysis.pdf
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#33
Quote:The recent British Archaeology report was by Steve Kaye, he concludes pointing at Silchester... Steve's main write up can be found here;

http://www.bandaarcgeophysics.co.uk/Boud...alysis.pdf

Very interesting - I didn't know of the evidence for destruction at Silchester. Mind you, as the article points out, a 25-year margin allows for a lot of other possibilities... His list of battle sites seems exhaustive, but omits some favourites - no Church Stowe or Paulerspury (or Dunstable!) - and includes some bizarre choices. Quite what Boudica would be doing way down in Dorset is beyond me... Kaye does, quite concisely, demolish the Websterian idea of the 'cavalry dash', though.

Kaye is largely following Nicholas Fuentes' 1983 argument for a western route of retreat from London by Paulinus - Fuentes cites destruction evidence at Staines and other places, and suggests Virginia Water station (as Mike Bishop pointed out above!), as the battle site. His paper is here:

Fuentes - Boudica Re-Visited

A counterblast from the redoubtable Graham Webster reiterates the case for Mancetter, and for Paulinus' 'cavalry reconnaissance' (upon which the identification largely rests, it seems):

Webster - A Comment

I'd say the balance of probability is with Fuentes here.

Strangely, however, Fuentes claims in his article that the next town north of St Albans is Towcester. It's not, of course - it's Dunstable! Which is on a spur of the Chilterns, in an area apparently thickly wooded in antiquity (or, at least, in medieval times...).

Meanwhile, here's Martin Marix Evans' 2001 defence of Paulerspury as a site (and against Church Stowe and Mancetter):

Marix Evans - Boudica's Last Battle

After a while, this sort of speculation becomes way too addictive... :grin:

- Nathan
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#34
Gosh Nathan - I think you are addicted!

Thank you all for the links. Not sure when I am going to have time to read them, but very useful indeed.
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#35
The Marix Evans' dismissal of Church Stowe in 2001 significantly pre-dates the unsubstantiated interpretation of the Castle Dykes/Yard earthworks as Roman (2010).

One of the cornerstones of the Paulerspury theory was a cemetery of men, women and children of an unidentified age. These remains have apparently (post 2001) been C14 dated to Anglo Saxon, also there has been a metal detecting survey of the Paulerspury/Cuttle Mill site that has turned nothing up.

The reason Church Stowe was mentioned was that Marix Evans was aware of a long folk tradition that this was the site of the battle, although this was unknown by the current Church Stowe researchers who nominated the site independently. Marix Evans does go on to nominate Church Stowe as his second favourite site based on the topography, it would be interesting to know his position now.

John Waite's book, "Boudiccas Last Stand" is now out as a 2011 edition still committed to his High Cross theory. He has added some maps speculating on troop dispositions and the course of the action, but he still declines to identify some of the evidence for fear of treasure hunters. Anyone know who John is? are you here John? maybe not the Radio 4 presenter.

Addict? ok maybe
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#36
Quote:but he still declines to identify some of the evidence for fear of treasure hunters.

That seems a bizarre attitude for an historian (or 'history writer')! Is he implying that he has some compelling evidence, but just can't tell anybody what it is? Confusedmile:

- Nathan
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#37
That seems to be the way he's playing it, the new edition maps indicates a flanking linear trench earthwork, I haven't yet spotted it on any aerials.

With a force of 10000 troops congregating over the course of several days/weeks I have to assume there would be several camps built to accommodate the troops. Thats what makes Church Stowe so compelling, it's the only theory that offers up the potential for such earthworks and is willing to stick it's neck out and say "dig here" so it should be an easy one to rule in or rule out.

Whilst I'm fixated by this game of spot the battlefield, I'll be even more fixated if there turns out to be 7 previously unidentified 1st century forts and a battlefield slap bang in the middle of England...anyway let sleeping theories lie if they ever find the site there will be eggs on faces all round, as it's almost certainly not going to be any of the sites currently on the table.
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#38
Quote:This is due for publication in April this year:

Boudicca’s Rebellion AD 60–61

...and may prove interesting. Nic Fields goes for the traditional site at Mancetter, it appears.



- Nathan

I've recently got hold of the Nic Fields book. Whilst he does use Mancetter as the principal case study he makes it clear that the River Anker just doesn't fit the Tacitus/Dio description, thereby shooting down the site he is basing his description on. Otherwise a nice primer for the debate with High Cross, Church Stowe, Cuttle M(H)ill and Arbury Hill all getting a name check as potential site (no Dunstable Downs though so I guess he's not following RAT too closely).

The Church Stowe document has been updated on line with an addendum picking up more recent info this is at;

http://www.craftpegg.com/Battle_Church_Stowe_CP.pdf
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#39
"Anyone know who John is? are you here John? maybe not the Radio 4 presenter."

Possibly a little bit OT here I know, but I know a John Waite, a former Bobby who was a member of the RMRS for a few years and then spent a year or two with the Chester Guard/Deva Victrix and who also wrote a self published novel, discussed here:
http://www.ancient-warfare.org/rat.html?...8&id=24591

I haven't spoken with him recently but I do recall him telling me once that he liked the idea of writing a book about the Boudiccan Revolt. Maybe he is your man. :roll:

He can be seen in this picture, standing behind me doing his helmet up:
http://www.romanarmy.net/images/Pages/ha...PG_jpg.htm

Right, back to the matter at hand.

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.romanarmy.net">www.romanarmy.net
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#40
Quote:I've recently got hold of the Nic Fields book. Whilst he does use Mancetter as the principal case study he makes it clear that the River Anker just doesn't fit the Tacitus/Dio description, thereby shooting down the site he is basing his description on.
I had a quick glance through it, but having spent way too much time reading Boudica-related stuff a while back I thought I'd better pass on it. Fields appears to devote little time to the campaign itself, which seems a shame - he relies heavily on Webster's analysis, which has been challenged often and convincingly in recent decades. While I know the Osprey format isn't intended to present radical new ideas, but rather a concise and comprehensive survey of current thinking, I do think this is a bit of a missed opportunity. Using Mancetter as the 'principal case study', even with caveats, gives a distorted picture of the campaign. The site relies on Webster's notion of Paulinus making a fast cavalry 'reconnaissance' down to London, but we know from Tacitus' Histories that Paulinus was an unusually careful and cautious commander, surely not one to be dashing anywhere, especially unsupported by infantry...

Quote:The Church Stowe document has been updated
Thanks for the link - very interesting. It's an attractive site, although still too far north, I think. Reading Dio and Tacitus closely it would seem that Paulinus' withdrawal from London was very slow, and that the advance elements of the British force were actually in contact with his rearguard. I don't think a journey of five to ten days through hostile territory could be supported in those conditions.

Quote:(no Dunstable Downs though so I guess he's not following RAT too closely).
Well, revolutionary ideas always take a few generations to sink in. Especially ones supported by no evidence whatsoever! :wink:
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#41
Dunstable to Towcester is 30 miles straight up Watling Street, seems like a reasonable tab for an infantry day. Right now I don't think there's a lot to choose between the sites based on distance from London and Tactitus' narrative. Why do you think Paulinus was slow with rear guard contact? Can you provide the quote?

damn I'd managed cold turkey for almost a month.
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#42
Quote:Dunstable to Towcester is 30 miles straight up Watling Street, seems like a reasonable tab for an infantry day.
30 miles in a day would be feasible for a legionary force at full stretch, although 18 (20 Roman miles) seems to have been a more usual longer march. Based on the distances between marching camps in Scotland (for example), 10 miles would appear to be reasonable in hostile territory.

But Paulinus in his retreat from London was conveying a large number of civilian refugees, probably unable to march at legion speed (albeit "those capable of accompanying the march" Annals 14.33) and dragging a quantity of wagons etc with them. This would surely slow him down.

Quote:Why do you think Paulinus was slow with rear guard contact? Can you provide the quote?
It's a brief note in the annoyingly vague Dio description:

[Paulinus, after leaving London] "was not willing to risk a conflict with the barbarians immediately, as he feared their numbers and their desperation, but was inclined to postpone battle to a more convenient season. But as he grew short of food and the barbarians pressed relentlessly upon him, he was compelled, contrary to his judgment, to engage them." (Dio, Roman History 62.8.1)

The reference to delay also turns up in Tacitus ("he prepared to abandon delay and contest a pitched battle" 14.34). This implies that whatever Paulinus was doing, he wasn't doing it very quickly!

The barbarians 'press(ing) relentlessly upon him' suggests to me that the withdrawal from London was something more of a fighting retreat. It could be that the 'hostile population' along Watling street were the ones doing the pressing, but the advance guard of Boudica's force would seem more likely.

Here's an interesting thing though - Dio says that Paulinus 'grew short of food'. Why would this be? He'd just left London, after all, the depot for food supplies for the army of Britain. In the London destruction layer dated to the period of the revolt, there was a large quantity of burnt grain, and furthermore this grain was of a type (identifiable by the shape, or something - I've lost the reference I'm afraid) only grown on the continent during this period. So this was Roman grain, in Roman warehouses, being destroyed. We know that Boudica's force had deliberately not planted crops before going on the rampage (Tacitus 14.38), presumably intending to seize Roman supplies - so why would they burn the grain in London?

So did Paulinus burn the supplies, to avoid them falling into the hands of Boudica? Did Paulinus, in fact, burn London itself? Could the note in Tacitus about him saving the country 'at the cost of one town' mean that after evacuating London he deliberately destroyed it in the path of the enemy, scorched-earth style?

If so, it was careless of him not to take enough grain to feed his own men... There's another possibility - Decianus Catus, the Procurator, fled London upon news of the sack of Colchester, 'unnerved by the disaster' (Tacitus 14.32). Could Catus have ordered the grain supplies torched before he left? Was this why Paulinus later found himself unable to feed his troops?

There is a case, maybe, for Paulinus clearing out of London in a hurry, destroying whatever grain he couldn't carry with him and retreating back up Watling street (or even westwards) in the face of the advancing enemy. The 66-odd miles up to Towcester and beyond could have been covered in three days of forced marches. This would take him deep into Catavellauni territory though, and we don't know what their attitude to Rome was at the time - hostile, probably, following Tacitus...

Hmm, once more into the vortex of speculations... Confusedmile:

EDIT - out of interest, here's Tacitus' description of Suetonius Paulinus, from the Histories (2.25): "he was naturally inclined to delay, and a man who preferred cautious and well-reasoned plans to chance success." Tacitus also notes that Paulinus "was regarded as the most skilful general of the time" (2.32 - the W.H. Fyfe translation reads 'cleverest') - since he wouldn't have had any chance to exhibit this skill or cleverness since his time in Britain, we must assume that that this reputation was won there. So whatever the Roman commander did in his operation against Boudica, it was (or was later perceived to be) skillful or clever...

- Nathan
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#43
Quote:There is a case, maybe, for Paulinus clearing out of London in a hurry, destroying whatever grain he couldn't carry with him and retreating back up Watling street (or even westwards) in the face of the advancing enemy. The 66-odd miles up to Towcester and beyond could have been covered in three days of forced marches. This would take him deep into Catavellauni territory though, and we don't know what their attitude to Rome was at the time - hostile, probably, following Tacitus...

To my mind it still makes absolutely no sense to retreat to the north or north-west. London may have been an entrepot at this time but it was not the principal source of supplies coming in from the continent - that was Richborough, as the granaries excavated there show. Heading south-east would have protected his line of communication and possible retreat should it all have turned even nastier. Torching London would have been in line with policy on the abandonment of military bases (of which there was one there (to judge from traces of defences and pre-Flavian military equipment), probably around Aldgate).

Mike Bishop
You know my method. It is founded upon the observance of trifles

Blogging, tweeting, and mapping Hadrian\'s Wall... because it\'s there
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#44
But to have thought that way would have been to accept the possibility of defeat!(not really a roman trait)
Perhaps his strategy was based on his belief in the ability of himself to act as an anvil, and the other legions and possible reinforcements coming from the south and south east acting as the anvil in a trapping engagment?!!?
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
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#45
Quote:To my mind it still makes absolutely no sense to retreat to the north or north-west.

Mike Bishop

well this is heating up nicely.
So we're back to a flying column, if he goes north he is not retreating but rather returning to his main body of troops, maybe digging in, to an RV with Legio II. Bimbling around down south or east is a recipe for getting bumped by the Boudiccan forces. Harrying of a rear guard may have been from the east rather than from behind.
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