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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Is it possible that Tacitus was present in Britain at some point during Agricola's governorship?
Neil Ritchie
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(12-10-2017, 10:16 AM)Theoderic Wrote: Renatus wrote:

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

Thank you Michael

Here is my effort. Tacitus' style is idiosyncratic and consequently (as you will see) a literal translation reads very awkwardly. Nevertheless, it is usually clear what he is driving at and it is tempting to paraphrase him, rather than to translate him directly, in order to achieve a readable result. This no doubt accounts by the variety of more-or-less free translations that are available. Anyway, I have done my best to follow him as closely as possible. The result is probably not perfect but I don't think that it distorts the original too much.

34.  At this time, the 14th legion, with the veterans of the 20th, and auxiliaries from the nearest, almost 10,000 soldiers, were with Suetonius, when he determined to abandon delay and to join battle. And he chose a position in a narrow defile and closed at the rear by a wood, with sufficient knowledge there to be none of the enemy unless in front and an open plain, without fear of ambush. Therefore, the regular legionary stood in ranks, the light-armed all around, the massed cavalry on the wings.

37.  The unmoving legion at first holding in position and the narrowness of the place as a protection, when it had exhausted its missiles with unerring throwing against the closely attacking enemies, burst forth like a wedge. Likewise the attack of the auxiliaries; and the cavalry with extended lances breaks through whoever was in the way and powerful.
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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Just for the record, I have made a slight change to the beginning of the last sentence.
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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Thanks Michael, it is so emphatically about a "narrowness of defile" that many prospective sites are ruled out. High Cross, Arbury Banks and Paulerspury can't, in my view claim any any "narrowness" and are pretty weak in the "defile" department. Mancetter too doesn't fit the bill, it's a ridge and waht minor re-entrants there are cannot be wide enough for fighting ground.
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(11-26-2017, 03:17 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(11-26-2017, 01:02 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: whilst it would be pretty easy to say "I think it's such and such a site" ... that would inevitably require me to explain my reasoning which would then require me to go into a detailed explanation of those other subjects

Many of the regular contributors to this thread have been discussing aspects of the battle and the campaign, together with detailed debate about Roman military movements and logistics, strategy, battlefield archaeology, interpretations of the texts and chronology for over seven years now.

Perhaps you don't need to explain quite so much? Most of us have explained our own reasoning for the sites we've put forward - identify yours and we can debate it!

You don't win a battle by responding to taunts from the enemy to engage in battle. Instead you win by good research of the terrain and the enemy's position, careful preparation and selection the battle site, secure logistics and supply ensuring high morale and fitness for battle by the troops, and only when you are ready for battle - you start to lure the enemy in.

That just about sums up my position.
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Amazing to see we're onto Page 100 here! [Image: smile.png]

(12-10-2017, 01:38 AM)Theoderic Wrote: Both of these translations would seem to imply that Paulinus was in some sort of enclosed space with woods at the side and rear...

Just woods at the rear, I think, 'closing' the site from that direction. High ground on either side - no mention of woods there as well.

There's no mention of high ground at the rear either, so this isn't necessarily a dead-end valley or totally enclosed space. A dip between hills, with woods behind it, would be fine.


(12-10-2017, 01:38 AM)Theoderic Wrote: 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 site report from the Cow Roast excavations I linked pages back mentions that the area just north of, or around, Tring station was heavily wooded in antiquity - the area was deforested by charcoal burners in later centuries, it seems.

The Bulbourne rises somewhere around there, but probably not that high even before the canal works, besides being a chalk stream anyway, and Akeman Street veers off to the north-west. The 'plain' would be the area north of Cow Roast, up to beyond Newground Road.

Over at Dunstable, we have woods reported in the area of the modern town until the Middle Ages; the whole north-western slope of the Chilterns appears to have been forested. So both sites could be 'closed in the rear by a wood'.

For the Iknield Way to be a problem we'd have to assume a separate rebel force operating north of the Chilterns, or some sort of rebel detachment moving beyond the main army and circling around through the hills. Even if Boudica's army had the strategic capability to do that, Paulinus would soon have been made aware of it - which could be why he took care to check that there were no enemies to his rear...


(12-11-2017, 11:36 AM)John1 Wrote: it is so emphatically about a "narrowness of defile" that many prospective sites are ruled out.

So I've always assumed, and I suspect others have thought the same. The confusion came in with the translation of munimento - the word can refer to a camp fortification or rampart, I think, but in this context it just means defence or protection.

But we've discussed the definitions of a 'defile' several times. I don't think Tacitus was referring to some sort of ravine or deep gulley - which in the sorts of geographical area we're considering would be hard to find anyway! In relative terms, this is a dip, just about wide enough for his front line, protected by high ground on either side, nothing more.


(12-10-2017, 09:08 PM)Legate Wrote: Is it possible that Tacitus was present in Britain at some point during Agricola's governorship?

It's possible, although again he might perhaps have mentioned it if he had - he married Agricola's daughter in 77/78 and was Quaestor (in Rome?) in 81/82.
Nathan Ross
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"munimento - the word can refer to a camp fortification or rampart"  KAPOWW!!!! we suddenly have the door open to camps and ramparts..... thanks Nathan, I knew you'd come around to it eventually

"In relative terms, this is a dip, just about wide enough for his front line, protected by high ground on either side, nothing more." sides steep enough and inaccessible enough to not be threatened by the hordes out flanking him, sounds like a steep sided deep valley to me, dips just don't cut it. With it's bottom wide enough to deploy a large body of troops, ie several hundred metres. Any feature remotely like this would have a water course in it's base, leaving Tring, Dunstable and Church Stowe still in the running, any others?.....

"geographical area we're considering would be hard to find anyway! " which suggests we only have a limited number of candidates...... 

"you win by good research of the terrain and the enemy's position, careful preparation and selection the battle site, secure logistics and supply ensuring high morale and fitness for battle by the troops, and only when you are ready for battle" sounds like a REALLY comfy Armchair you've found there Mons.... or are you just taunting?

I know we've done it all before, but it was fun then and I've forgotten most stuff before page 93.......
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(12-11-2017, 12:39 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(12-10-2017, 09:08 PM)Legate Wrote: Is it possible that Tacitus was present in Britain at some point during Agricola's governorship?

It's possible, although again he might perhaps have mentioned it if he had - he married Agricola's daughter in 77/78 and was Quaestor (in Rome?) in 81/82.

So its possible Agricola took Tacitus to the actual battle site 

Its also possible that he was at Mons Graupius? Big Grin
Neil Ritchie
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Neil,
Even if it were to be probable, I cannot predict where you are heading with this?
Does it make a difference? 

Like John, I have lost track of a fair proportion of the last 100 pages. Other than the testaments of Tacitus and
Cassius Dio, and the burning of 3 towns, (possibly 4  including Silchester) what other evidence do we have?
E.g., was there a probable/ provable famine in the Iceni and Trinovanti lands in the early '60's?


As the Romans were here for another 350 years, I have often wondered how the demographic might have been recorded in any sources the latter half of the first century, or later.
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Why would you need to predict where I am heading with it?

If Tacitus did set foot on the field then his description would be first hand as opposed to Agricola telling him the layout years later for a biography.
Neil Ritchie
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Hi Neil,
It was not intended to be patronising or confrontational and I apologise if that's how it appeared. I was simply wanting to know whether it was going to open up some new area of discussion. And, if so, what it was.
Thanks
David
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(12-11-2017, 07:52 PM)David Scothorn Wrote: Hi Neil,
It was not intended to be patronising or confrontational and I apologise if that's how it appeared. I was simply wanting to know whether it was going to open up some new area of discussion. And, if so, what it was.
Thanks
David

No need for an apology David, I was simply wondering if he could have been shown the site of the battle.  Big Grin

The problem with online chat is not knowing the 'tone' of the reply/question etc.
Neil Ritchie
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(12-11-2017, 01:58 PM)John1 Wrote: we suddenly have the door open to camps and ramparts.....

Ha ha - no. [Image: tongue.png]


(12-11-2017, 06:50 PM)David Scothorn Wrote: Like John, I have lost track of a fair proportion of the last 100 pages. Other than the testaments of Tacitus and
Cassius Dio, and the burning of 3 towns, (possibly 4  including Silchester) what other evidence do we have?

None, really.

I still think Tacitus's mention of St Albans is significant - we know from archaeology that the damage there was not great, and it was a relatively insignificant town of Romanised Britons, probably unknown to most people in Rome itself (i.e. T's readership). So why does he mention it?

My guess would be that it appeared in the sources T was using, perhaps because Paulinus withdrew there after evacuating London, and used it as a rendezvous point for his reinforcements from the Welsh frontier, and it was close to the final battle site.

As a recap (because several years have now passed!), here are my two suggested sites, with slightly improved maps:

First Dunstable (Manshead):

   

Second, Tring (Newground) - I've removed the railway and canal, as before, and marked what appear to be the sites of the military finds, helmet, and the rumoured detector finds of slingshot etc:

   

However, while I was looking around for old maps of the Tring area, I came across this one, from 1766, showing the valley around Newground prior to the construction of the canal and railway. As you can see, the Bulbourne rises rather higher and a little to the north-east. The red line follows the approximate course of Akeman Street. But there's a very interesting-looking 'defile' feature just east of Wigginton, and if the area just to the north was wooded this would 'close' it off quite neatly from the rear:

   

What do you reckon to those?
Nathan Ross
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Speaking of Verulanium, are there any significant defensive positions nearby which SP could have built/ used??

And I see that John1 has come out with a couple of speculative sites of some significance :-

https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread...#pid346196
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"Speaking of Verulanium, are there any significant defensive positions nearby which SP could have built/ used??"
yes the stonking great Fort at Windridge !!!!!!! Used then later rebuilt.....

"we know from archaeology that the damage there was not great"
Like the razing of the Windridge Fort didn't occur !!!!!!!! so it was rebuilt with only the NW segment retained......

page 88 July 2016........ don't you remember.... ok me neither............

Manshead and New Ground are both good..... wrong.... but good.....

"So its possible Agricola took Tacitus to the actual battle site" I can't see why not... probably a highlight of the Grand tour of Brittania for some generations..... I have money on there being a temple or two on the site.

Also still looking for the site where the IX got bumped, probably in or around this cone;
   

Where my favorite potential for the final wipe out is the valley confluence at Bartlow where these massive Roman mounds are located at the valley bottom;

   

342143
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