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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
(11-27-2017, 11:27 PM)John1 Wrote: how narrow does it have to be to contain a 15ha camp, 400m on each side?

No, as I said above, he's not camping in the defile!... (you're just winding me up now, aren't you?)


(11-27-2017, 11:27 PM)John1 Wrote: those places that would be a really bad idea when you could be on an impregnable ridge top...

Find me a Roman marching camp built on an 'impregnable ridge top'.

Camps were built on flattish ground, close to water. They were not intended to be impregnable, nor to be used as battlefield fortifications.

But can I suggest we leave this particular thorny issue aside, until next time?
Nathan Ross
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feeling defiled Nathan??? I suppose your mega camp could have been in the "Great Plain", a kind of proto Milton Keynes.... But if there was a 15ha camp and attendant bits near water, those poor Brits would have had no where to park their waggons let alone squeeze past the Uber camp to a valley.... unless you are looking to get rid of a defile on the basis that it would have messed with "how Paulinus would have done it, 'cos he was definitely like that you know"....... or do we?


Camps on ridges? maybe defensive positions on ridges would cast the net a little more reasonably. There is a ridge on the English / Scotish border that has a few defensive positions lined along it, to some it is known as Hadrian's Wall, although I appreciate Paulinus wouldn't have done this preferring instead to hang out on low lying ground next to a river, in mega camps that may or may not not be unapproachable from any direction other than the front..... or not

   

   

   

   

   

   

     

   
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(11-28-2017, 10:41 PM)John1 Wrote: those poor Brits would have had no where to park their waggons let alone squeeze past the Uber camp to a valley

The camp is behind the Roman lines, the Britons are in front of it. I can't understand why this seems to be so confusing!


(11-28-2017, 10:41 PM)John1 Wrote: maybe defensive positions on ridges would cast the net a little more reasonably.

Nope - this is a field battle. Nothing in the Tacitus description implies 'defensive positions', ramparts, earthworks, or ridges for that matter.

Paulinus needed a camp to house his men before the battle. He was not building Hadrian's Wall.

15ha is not particularly big compared with some of the camps in northern England, Wales and Scotland, which were often built in far more challenging terrain.
Nathan Ross
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BBC confirms a Northern location on Watling Street (near Birmingham) in 60AD;
www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b062rhwx/horrible-histories-series-6-9-bolshy-boudica-special
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That's what Bettany said too. The BBC are consistent, so they must be right.

I've been dying to find an excuse to quote this.........

"Anyone with an intense emotional interest in a subject loses the ability to observe it objectively: You selectively perceive events. You ignore data and facts that disagree with your main philosophy. Even your memory works to fool you, as you selectively retain what you believe in, and subtly mask any memories that might conflict."

......... Only trouble is, I cannot recall an authoritative source for it.
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(12-01-2017, 11:03 AM)David Scothorn Wrote: I've been dying to find an excuse to quote this.........

"Anyone with an intense emotional interest in a subject loses the ability to observe it objectively: You selectively perceive events. You ignore data and facts that disagree with your main philosophy. Even your memory works to fool you, as you selectively retain what you believe in, and subtly mask any memories that might conflict."

......... Only trouble is, I cannot recall an authoritative source for it. Another case of deja-vu, perhaps?

Barry Ritholtz, The Washington Post, 6 February 2011.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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So is Paulinus moving 'north' to keep his lines of communication with bases in North Wales open, while still keeping lines of communication with legio II? As we know he had been campaigning there and it seems likely that there would have been troops still stationed in the newly conquered regions as well as war stores that had been stockpiled for the Wales campaign. Would it be reasonable to assume that Paulinus is being supplied from these strategic bases that would have been freshly stocked?

Someone mentioned very early in the discussion about Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes, and stated that a possible reason for the move north was to prevent her from linking up with Boudica. Cartimandua was only in her position thanks to the Romans; would she have made moves against them if it looked as if they were about to be ousted from the Province?
Neil Ritchie
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(12-08-2017, 10:10 AM)Legate Wrote: So is Paulinus moving 'north' to keep his lines of communication with bases in North Wales open, while still keeping lines of communication with legio II?

I'd say that's very likely, yes. We don't know much about exact military dispositions at the time, but we do know that Paulinus had been campaigning in North Wales, and the Welsh border was the main battle area of the day. So he probably had his main army supply base at or around Wroxeter, and his legions based between there and Gloucester, perhaps.

We don't know where II Augusta was either - but if Paulinus wanted them (or the 'veterans detachment' possibly commanded by Postumus) to join him in time for the battle, I would guess they weren't as far away as Exeter. As we discussed before, having Postumus and his men around Gloucester/Usk would be plausible.

If the veterans of the Fourteeth were at Wroxeter they would have joined Paulinus on his march south. If the Twentieth veterans were at Alchester (perhaps) they could have joined him at St Albans via Akeman Street; if the Second were at Gloucester/Usk they should have been able to do the same - but didn't. St Albans makes a good rendezvous point, while also holding the northern route via Watling Street, which would underline its strategic importance.


(12-08-2017, 10:10 AM)Legate Wrote: Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes

I'm not sure. We would have to assume that the Iceni and the Brigantes were in communication and thought of themselves as neighbours or relatives - which is plausible. But Cogidubnus and his Regni apparently didn't join the rebellion (and neither did the other tribes in the south west), so perhaps it wasn't so appealing to the vast mass of Britons... In any case, Paulinus seems to have dealt with it before it could spread much beyond the south east and/or Midlands.
Nathan Ross
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Indeed, so I am thinking, in my limited understanding, that Paulinus was not moving up and down at the head of a cavalry detachment that so many think. He brought his entire force down to London and pulls north once again in the hope of linking up with legio II, or its detachments, and possibly detachments left in Wales? Also he wants to keep his supply lines open.
Neil Ritchie
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(12-08-2017, 12:57 PM)Legate Wrote: Paulinus was not moving up and down at the head of a cavalry detachment that so many think.

Absolutely. The 'cavalry dash' theory has been so entirely debunked that I don't think anyone could seriously argue for it.

But 'received wisdom' continues, unfortunately, to inform many people's thinking! [Image: sad.png]
Nathan Ross
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Nathan Ross wrote:

But Cogidubnus and his Regni apparently didn't join the rebellion (and neither did the other tribes in the south west), so perhaps it wasn't so appealing to the vast mass of Britons...

Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes and Cogidubnus of the Atrebates and later also the Regni, were both in charge of Client Kingdoms and both totally relied on Roman support to remain in power so it is highly unlikely that they would have joined in the uprising and the part of the Brigantes that was disaffected with Rome under Venutius was probably garrisoned by half of the Ninth.

The Belgae and the Durortriges appear also to be subservient to Rome after the early conquests by the 2nd under Vespasian as were the Cantiaci since AD43 but Tacitus does mention that other tribes “not yet broken by servitude” did join with the Iceni and the Trinovantes possibly the Northern Dobunni, parts of the Catavellauni, the Coritani, the Dumnonii, and the Cornovii.

Nathan wrote:

....we do know that Paulinus had been campaigning in North Wales, and the Welsh border was the main battle area of the day. So he probably had his main army supply base at or around Wroxeter, and his legions based between there and Gloucester, perhaps. We don't know where II Augusta was either - but if Paulinus wanted them (or the 'veterans detachment' possibly commanded by Postumus) to join him in time for the battle, I would guess they weren't as far away as Exeter.

The idea that Paulinus called on the veterans of the 2nd (possibly based at Usk or Monmouth or Gloucester) rather than the whole Legion is new to me although it would seem unusual to put the Camp Prefect,  Postumus, in charge of this group rather than part of the regular Legion.

The question here is where were the 2nd Legion or the 20th?

Some say that part of the 2nd were with Paulinus at Mona.

The only reason that it is assumed that part of the 2nd was with Paulinus is because Agricola was with Paulinus and it is thought that as he was assigned to the 2nd Legion, his commanding officer was also with Paulinus at the head of part of the 2nd because Postumus was left in charge of the Legionary base but the 2nd is never mentioned as being at Mona or any where else in the campaign only the 14th Legion and a detachment of the 20th. 

Could it not be that Agricola was seconded as a staff officer for the Mona campaign purely because of his ability which would be wasted on garrison duties or as experience to advance his career?

Were the 2nd and the 20th garrisoning South and Mid Wales, logistically large and rebellious and only recently subdued (but not completely  conquered for another 10 years) in a similar manner to the 9th garrisoning the Brigantes? 

It may have been standard policy to have a "mobile force" of half the Legion being able to respond to any rebellious outbreaks and to reinforce a beleagured outpost, whilst the rest of the Legion were still inhabiting garrison forts in the area. Perhaps the Legate of the 2nd was at a "Forward Base" in the region where trouble was to be expected and his skills were best suited.

Normally this would have been the best place for the commander to make tactical and strategic decisions whilst a Camp Prefect would support these decisions by the smooth running of the day to day operations and readiness of the men for battle.

In this case perhaps the strategic decision was too much for Postumus finding himself in a dichotomy, where by going to the aid of his Governor, he would leave his own colleagues and friends and commander at risk,  or at the least exposed, especially if the locals (Silures?) may have been exhibiting a warlike posture after hearing about the razing of Colchester.

Between a rock and a hard place and he perhaps supported his own legion over the Governor.....who had every right to expect that he took precedence.
Deryk
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(12-09-2017, 07:46 PM)Theoderic Wrote:
The idea that Paulinus called on the veterans of the 2nd... rather than the whole Legion is new to me

It was Michael's idea, back in this post (from five years ago! It doesn't seem that long...)


Seems very plausible to me.

(12-09-2017, 07:46 PM)Theoderic Wrote:
The only reason that it is assumed that part of the 2nd was with Paulinus is because Agricola was with Paulinus and it is thought that as he was assigned to the 2nd Legion

I don't think we know when or in which legion Agricola served - Tacutus just says he was a tribune in Britain, and shared a tent with Paulinus (so he was probably either in the 14th, or a staff officer on detached duty, as you suggest). I think it's usually assumed that Agricola arrived in Britain after the revolt had already been crushed; otherwise perhaps T would have mentioned his hero's part in it!

As for the 2nd - they could have been in Wales with Agricola's main army, with just the veteran detachment elsewhere as suggested above. Or the bulk of the legion could have been at Exeter (I believe the fortress there is usually assumed to be too small to hold a full legion), with Postumus commanding a detachment, whether of veterans or otherwise, somewhere else - maybe Usk, or Kingsholm/Gloucester.

Alternatively, I suppose Postumus could have been commanding the full legion, with the more senior officers elsewhere - although the other two suggestions above seem far more likely, I think.
Nathan Ross
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Tongue 
Nathan wrote:

in this post (from five years ago! It doesn't seem that long...)

Good grief!!! ....and we are still debating the site  Smile Good points raised though...... 



Nathan wrote:


Nope - this is a field battle. Nothing in the Tacitus description implies 'defensive positions', ramparts, earthworks, or ridges for that matter.


Paulinus needed a camp to house his men before the battle. He was not building Hadrian's Wall


Not sure that I really understand this - but it must be my version of the translation of the Annals as follows:

34  Suetonius had already the fourteenth legion, with a detachment of the twentieth and auxiliaries from the nearest stations, altogether some ten thousand armed men, when he prepared to abandon delay and contest a pitched battle. He chose a position approached by a narrow defile and secured in the rear by a wood, first satisfying himself that there was no trace of an enemy except in his front, and that the plain there was devoid of cover and allowed no suspicion of an ambuscade. The legionaries were posted in serried ranks, the light-armed troops on either side, and the cavalry massed on the extreme wings. 

37  At first, the legionaries stood motionless, keeping to the defile as a natural protection: then, when the closer advance of the enemy had enabled them to exhaust their missiles with certitude of aim, they dashed forward in a wedge-like formation. The auxiliaries charged in the same style; and the cavalry, with lances extended, broke a way through any parties of resolute men whom they encountered. 

or

34The fourteenth legion, with the veterans of the twentieth, and the auxiliaries from the adjacent stations, having joined Suetonius, his army amounted to little less than ten thousand men. Thus reinforced, he resolved, without loss of time, to bring on a decisive action. For this purpose he chose a spot encircled with woods, narrow at the entrance, and sheltered in the rear by a thick forest. In that situation he had no fear of an ambush. The enemy, he knew, had no approach but in front. An open plain lay before him. He drew up his men in the following order: the legions in close array formed the center; the light armed troops were stationed at hand to serve as occasion might require: the cavalry took post in the wings



37. The engagement began. The Roman legion presented a close embodied line. The narrow defile gave them the shelter of a rampart. The Britons advanced with ferocity, and discharged their darts at random. In that instant, the Romans rushed forward in the form of a wedge. The auxiliaries followed with equal ardour. The cavalry, at the same time, bore down upon the enemy, and, with their pikes, overpowered all who dared to make a stand. 


Both of these translations would seem to imply that Paulinus was in some sort of enclosed space with woods at the side and rear which offered some protection on the flanks so that the Roman Army could fight on a single front because the access was comparatively narrow limiting the length of the "front line" and importantly that the Roman Army could not be outflanked and attacked from the rear. This was their starting point, facing Boudica's army on the plain.  

If this is the case Newground Road at Tring would seem to be vulnerable from attack in the rear (via the Icknield Way) even if the area was forested which would seem unlikely as both a river (the Bulbourne) and Akeman Street run through the site and also as the Brythonic army had just come down a valley from today's Berkhampstead via Cow Roast not gathered on a plain.  

The valley containing Dancer's End (between Chivery and Tring) however would seem to have these attributes and also room to house the camp or indeed camps you refer to as well as a water supplied by access to the acquifer at the Crong.
Deryk
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(12-10-2017, 01:38 AM)Theoderic Wrote: Not sure that I really understand this - but it must be my version of the translation of the Annals as follows:

The first translation is Loeb. I don't recognise the second. It isn't Church & Brodribb or Penguin. If I get a chance, I'll attempt a literal translation.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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Renatus wrote:

If I get a chance, I'll attempt a literal translation.

Thank you Michael
Deryk
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