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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
(12-18-2017, 09:18 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: just ignore all the planning, logistics, diplomacy that goes with a campaign and just gallop down Watling street

I referred in my post to the 'active campaigning period'. I think it was quite clear that this does not include the planning and logistics phase.

We have discussed several times the buildup to the revolt, both Iceni and Roman planning, dates of harvests and campaign seasons, mustering, intelligence gathering, supplies and weapons etc etc.
Nathan Ross
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(12-18-2017, 11:20 AM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(12-18-2017, 09:18 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: just ignore all the planning, logistics, diplomacy that goes with a campaign and just gallop down Watling street

I referred in my post to the 'active campaigning period'. I think it was quite clear that this does not include the planning and logistics phase.

We have discussed several times the buildup to the revolt, both Iceni and Roman planning, dates of harvests and campaign seasons, mustering, intelligence gathering, supplies and weapons etc etc.

Perhaps this analogy will work. In physics there are two models of how particles move. In one a particle like a photo moves from one place to another as a single hard particle. It is therefore possible to say where it is at all times and to describe its path and what happens to it in cause and effect.

The other way to describe a particle is as a wave. Now, in the wave description the particle can exists everywhere in space - although it is predominantly located in one region. It can also pass through multiple locations - and you can only talk about the probability of the particle being in any one place. In most cases the two are just two ways of describing the same physical phenomenon.

Where we have a problem, is that you have a long chain of inference - that is a single chain of "you must agree" set of statements. Which you believe means if you start at the beginning you must get to one of a very few conclusions.

My way of thinking is that we know so little that the likelihood of any one chain in the argument is fairly low, but the chance of each and every link in the chain of reasoning being correct is extremely low. Let me use a simple maths. If the probability of each step being right is "more likely than not" so 60%, if there are 5 chains in your linked argument then the chance of the final conclusion being right, despite being the most likely interpretation at each and every stage is 0.60^5 = 8% or a 92% chance it is wrong.

As such, I wouldn't confine myself to a long logical chain of inference unless there was a very high degree of certainty and each and every stage. And the result is I am more willing to consider things outside the apparently best logical chain of inference. To go back to the original analogy - to consider places that are far outside the "obvious" path and include in my consideration the possibility of timescales and sequences of events for which we have no evidence.

To put that in simple terms because complex situations are so complex, it is often best to think strategically (a broad overview) rather than tactically (the response to a particular event)
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(12-18-2017, 12:10 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: include in my consideration the possibility of timescales and sequences of events for which we have no evidence.

I suspect this is a point of critical difference. What you call 'a long logical chain of inference' is just the evidence that we have available.

Tacitus does not tell us where the battle took place, or very much about how it happened, but there is enough in his account to enable us to reconstruct the overall course of events with some degree of accuracy and narrow down the area of speculation somewhat.

Expanding the speculation beyond the evidence involves, in this specific case of chronology, ignoring certain aspects of that evidence. Unless you would like to propose a radical reinterpretation of Tacitus's account, with particular reference to chronology, I think that such an approach would go against the usual structures of historical methodology.
Nathan Ross
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(12-18-2017, 01:00 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(12-18-2017, 12:10 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: include in my consideration the possibility of timescales and sequences of events for which we have no evidence.

I suspect this is a point of critical difference. What you call 'a long logical chain of inference' is just the evidence that we have available.

Tacitus does not tell us where the battle took place, or very much about how it happened, but there is enough in his account to enable us to reconstruct the overall course of events with some degree of accuracy and narrow down the area of speculation somewhat.

Expanding the speculation beyond the evidence involves, in this specific case of chronology, ignoring certain aspects of that evidence. Unless you would like to propose a radical reinterpretation of Tacitus's account, with particular reference to chronology, I think that such an approach would go against the usual structures of historical methodology.
I'm not asking you to expand anything, I would only suggest that if I thought it would be fruitful, and as we know so little and there is such a huge potential area to explore.

Let me tell you an old joke.

A man comes along and finds another (it was Irish when I first heard it), scrabbling on the floor under a lamp post. He asks "what are you doing", the man (who is not Irish in this joke) says "I'm looking for sixpence". Our man offers to help and after searching for 10minutes, says: "where exactly did you lose it". The (not Irishman) pointing some distance away says: "over there". To which our man says: "Then why are you looking here". To which the other says: "because this is where light is".

I've always loved this joke, because it was supposed to tell us how stupid the Irish are. However, I think he might be the smart one. Because although the money was lost some distance away and so there is only a small chance that the money can be found, there is a much higher chance of finding it where the light is. Indeed, given the area without light is so large and there is so little light, there may be negligible chance of finding it in the dark.

So, sometimes, looking for something where there is very little chance it will be - but it is a relatively small area may be much better than searching a massive area where it is much more likely to be but almost impossible to find. This is why I'm not against looking around Watling Street - even if I personally would consider a much larger area (but where there is almost no chance of finding anything except by pure fluke)

As for evidence: It is quite possible to include in any analysis things for which we have no evidence. As a simple example, we have no evidence that the Iceni ever drank water, but it is reasonable to believe they would drink water. On a more practical vein, we know they would avoid crossing marshes. So, everyone accepts that we can include things for which the texts give us no evidence. I have seen one approach that assessed the suitability of water supplies.
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(12-18-2017, 02:39 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: a relatively small area may be much better than searching a massive area where it is much more likely to be but almost impossible to find.

Why would the battle have been 'much more likely' located in this 'massive area'?


Meanwhile... This seems to be a new(ish) paper on the theme:

The Mancetter Candidacy

Some old points revisited, and a few new suggestions (including an idea that Roman legions marched only 12 miles in a day). Needless to say, Webster's 'cavalry dash' (without which any site in the Midlands looks very creaky, I think) is accepted with barely a quibble!

There is also some interesting further discussion on the meaning(s) of fauces/faucibus, which we've been over a few times on here.
Nathan Ross
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(12-18-2017, 03:55 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(12-18-2017, 02:39 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: a relatively small area may be much better than searching a massive area where it is much more likely to be but almost impossible to find.

Why would the battle have been 'much more likely' located in this 'massive area'?

Because if you have a long chain of inference, whilst each chain may represent the most likely conclusion at each step, if you're anything other than very confident at every stage, the overall confidence in the complete chain of inference is low.

To use yet another example: let us say I am a police officer following a suspect from Scotland to England down the M74/M6/M1 and I want to guess where they are coming off. Say there are 40 junctions along the route, and therefore a 2.5% chance that they will take any junction. It therefore follows that there is a 97.5% chance that they will stay on the road. The "logical" conclusion, is that at every junction they are more likely to stay on the motorway than leave. It therefore follows that the most likely place they will come off is the end of the road. And indeed, as a junction, it is quite possible that this is the exit that is used most heavily. However just because the last junction is the most likely exit, it doesn't mean they are most likely to have travelled all the way from Scotland to London.

Likewise,  if you have a long chain of inference with only a moderate degree of certainty, just because Watling Street appears the most likely place for the battle, it does not mean that the battle is most likely to have occurred along Watling Street. But it does mean that if Watling Street is the most likely place, you are more likely to find it by searching along Watling Street, than any other single place.
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Nathan wrote:

The Mancetter Candidacy

Some old points revisited, and a few new suggestions (including an idea that Roman legions marched only 12 miles in a day). Needless to say, Webster's 'cavalry dash' (without which any site in the Midlands looks very creaky, I think) is accepted with barely a quibble! 

There is also some interesting further discussion on the meaning(s) of fauces/faucibus, which we've been over a few times on here.

Posted by MonsGraupius - 3 hours ag

Regarding the Mancetter Candidacy I don't see that there is very much new here including the point that there is a reference to Dio / Tacitus on whether the proximity of Tacitus to the timescale of the action makes his account more accurate and I seem to remember that Dio got his information from a number of sources that are not available to us today.

The point about multiple valleys is applicable to Dunstable, Tring or indeed Church Stowe (although I would favour the valleys opposite today's Tring obviously  Smile )

Yes the River Anker would supply water but would also cut through the battleground which we have agreed in the past would be mentioned in the text which it is not.

Twelve miles a day doesn't really ring true as Webster implies by his siting of forts that they are normally around 15 - 20 miles apart and the evidence on the ground would seem to support this.

Interestingly the road distance between London and St Albans is 20 miles and between St Albans and Alchester (Bicester) is 40 miles and between Bicester and Cirencester 40 miles (all approximate). 

There is a minor settlement at Asthall half way between Cirencester and Bicester. Half way between Bicester and St Albans is Tring with its Roman settlements at Aston Clinton and furnaces at Cow Roast.

Could these minor settlements started off as supply bases or indeed forts still to be recovered?
Deryk
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(12-18-2017, 06:43 PM)Theoderic Wrote: the River Anker would supply water but would also cut through the battleground

Yes, quite; it's a critical problem - and if it were used as a water source then the Romans would either be camping in front of their own battle line, or surrendering their water to the enemy...


(12-18-2017, 06:43 PM)Theoderic Wrote: Twelve miles a day doesn't really ring true

I get the impression that the author of the (unpublished) paper cited has perhaps used Gary Breuggeman's estimates for march distances and times, or perhaps just noted the distances in Scotland - where 8-12 miles between camps appears normal. However, these would be the kind of distances covered in an advance into enemy territory, building camps every day. Marching by road on an established line of communication, with forts or supply bases en route, I don't see why Paulinus's men couldn't cover the regular Vegetian 18-22 miles per day.

Of course, it could be that the author is trying to slow the legions down, to support the 'cavalry dash' theory and make it even more likely that they fought their battle in the Midlands...!

On a similar note, I was interested by the idea (I think from John Waite?) that Boudica was leading her force into the Midlands to link up with the Corieltavi near Leicester. This sounds plausible, although of course Tacitus does not mention the Corieltavi - nor do any other writers of the era - and we have no idea of their allegiances at the time, or even their true location. And why would the Iceni and Trinovantes etc haul themselves all the way up to Leicester just to meet up with another tribe - why them, particularly? what did they intend to do? How would they return to thier own country to plant winter crops?

As before, while this theory appears to be circumstantial support for the Midlands location generally, its sole support is the theory, rather than the other way around!


(12-18-2017, 06:43 PM)Theoderic Wrote: Half way between Bicester and St Albans is Tring

Yes, it does seem to be a likely place for a fort or road station. But perhaps in later decades, once the road system had become more established?

Part of my consideration for the evidence from Cow Roast is that military equipment would perhaps not be manufactured in what appears to be a civilian site, a long way from the nearest fort or garrison.
Nathan Ross
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(12-18-2017, 07:37 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(12-18-2017, 06:43 PM)Theoderic Wrote: Half way between Bicester and St Albans is Tring

Yes, it does seem to be a likely place for a fort or road station. But perhaps in later decades, once the road system had become more established?

And similarly for Asthall ( half way, Bicester to Cirencester)
http://oxoniensia.org/volumes/1955/cook.pdf
Conclusion:- '' It would appear, in fact, that Akeman Street was in use soon after the mid-first century...........''
The earliest coin dated AD72

Just found this re. Alchester (Bicester)

https://www.ed.ac.uk/history-classics-ar...r-fortress

........Our findings suggest that pacification of southern Britain required greater military efforts than previously recognised. The combined size of the main fortress, probably covering much of the area of the later town, and a large annexe amounts to 14-15ha, and there is evidence for dense multi-phase military occupation in the mid-first century from both. Anti-personnel devices, in the form of sharpened stakes at the approaches to a timber gate, suggest that the invasion force was prepared for potential rebellion................
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(12-18-2017, 07:37 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: Marching by road on an established line of communication, with forts or supply bases en route, I don't see why Paulinus's men couldn't cover the regular Vegetian 18-22 miles per day.

I have commented earlier that Vegetius' 20 and 24 Roman miles in five summer hours establishes a rate of march (4 and 4.8 mph) but not necessarily the distances covered except in training. The Romans over-trained in order to make campaign conditions seem easier than what the troops were used to. It would depend upon the circumstances of the campaign as to how many hours the commander expected his men to maintain that pace. Marching on roads would ease the process but it is unlikely that the forts that Paulinus passed en route to and from London would have been big enough to accommodate the size of his force. Being a prudent general and travelling at least part of the way through hostile or potentially hostile country and also being uncertain of the loyalty of the other tribes through whose territory he passed, Paulinus would probably have insisted on the construction of a marching camp each night. For what it is worth, I believe the forts on Hadrian's Wall to be approximately seven miles apart and that this represents half a day's march in peacetime conditions without having to construct a camp. Thus, a normal peacetime marching day of 14 miles at the slower rate would be approximately 3.5 hours. Put that way, it does not seem very much but in times of peace it is not necessary to stretch the men and in wartime both the pace and the hours of marching could be extended.
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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There is a small bit of evidence pertaining to the meaning of the word faux, fauces or faucibus.
"If the intermediate climb of the Col de la Forclaz sounds familiar that’s because there are many passes with the forclaz label. With a silent “z” it’s roughly pronounced “fork-la” it’s derived from the Latin for small fork and denotes a narrow gap through the mountains and is a term used in France and Switzerland alike while in nearby Italy there are several climbs with the forcella label meaning the same thing." This is a quote from a cycling blog http://inrng.com/2017/12/roads-to-ride-t...z-finhaut/ So perhaps the site should be steep?
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(12-19-2017, 12:04 AM)Renatus Wrote: it is unlikely that the forts that Paulinus passed en route to and from London would have been big enough to accommodate the size of his force... Paulinus would probably have insisted on the construction of a marching camp each night.

Yes, good point. I'd been assuming that the forts along the way might have had annexes, like the one recently discovered at Alchester, to accommodate larger marching groups - although perhaps not that large!

This might actually suggest an answer to the question a while back as to why Paulinus only brought a relatively small force south with him - any more than 10K men (and it could have been 6-8K before he was reinforced) and he would have had trouble accommodating and provisioning them on a steady march.

All the same, I would think that the forts or settlements en route might have been convenient stopping places, with access to remounts, couriers, water and food, etc - although Paulinus might have built his own temporary camps nearby or alongside.


(12-19-2017, 12:04 AM)Renatus Wrote: Thus, a normal peacetime marching day of 14 miles at the slower rate would be approximately 3.5 hours.

Hmm, perhaps. I think it's safe to say that the settlements along Watling Street probably originated as forts or military installations. Looking at the distances given on the Antonine Itinerary, it's interesting how regular the spacings are. Verulamium to Durocobrivis 12 miles; Durocobrivis to Magiovintum 12 miles; Magiovintum to Lactodurum 17 miles; Lactodurum to Bannaventa 12 miles - etc. 12 miles is the most common distance between stations - in modern miles these distances vary between 10.88 miles and 12.14 miles over the same ground.

This might suggest that 12 Roman miles was origininally the distance covered by a marching force in peacetime, between stations. Vegetius's 24 miles at double pace is precisely twice that distance.

While Paulinus was a cautious commander, inclined to delay rather than reckless action, I don't think this means he was sluggardly when he needed to move - he would have known that he needed to get his force down to the south east as soon as possible, and could have pressed on by regular stages 'with wonderful steadfastness', without gaining any undue reputation for celerity.

[EDIT - I notice in Tac. Agr. 16 the comment Quod nisi Paulinus cognito provinciae motu propere subvenisset - which I think translates literally as "When this Paulinus learned, the province with rapid motion he rescued" - 'motu propere' suggests that he moved down to London at a relatively quick pace; so his reputation for caution and delay perhaps relates to the next phase of the campaign, after his evacuation of London.)

He could also have varied the pace. A 24 mile double-station run could have been followed by a 17 mile one, for example, depending on the gradients of the road and the distances between points.

If we follow your idea from way back, he initially directed his march towards a rendezvous with Cerealis in the Godmanchester area, preparatory to a combined advance towards Colchester. He could have delayed for a day or more at Godmanchester, sending out scouts and determining what the Britons were planning to do after the fall of the city, and only marched south to London (three 18-miles stages, entrenching along the way) when he knew which direction they were going.


(12-19-2017, 11:32 AM)kavan Wrote: There is a small bit of evidence pertaining to the meaning of the word faux, fauces or faucibus... perhaps the site should be steep?

Possibly. Although we should perhaps be wary about too literal an interpretation. Tacitus twice uses the same word - faucibus - to describe an actual throat (singular) - Annals 4.70 and 14.51. So in topographic terms (and rather dramatic ones) a confined space is presumably what he means.
Nathan Ross
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What was the state of the roads in 61 AD? The Romans had less than twenty years to build them and I know from experience that there is a lot of work involved in making the simplest. This could put further limits Paulinus movements.
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(12-20-2017, 08:50 AM)kavan Wrote: What was the state of the roads in 61 AD? The Romans had less than twenty years to build them and I know from experience that there is a lot of work involved in making the simplest. This could put further limits Paulinus movements.

This is a good point. The majority of roads we know today were probably not even fully surveyed, let alone built, even with local labour. Building them might have radiated of of Colchester, York and other major settlements,  and the rest either part completed or adopted older trackways.
How do we know all of the forts were not in the same state? Where did all of the labour resources come from? How long would it take to get the raw materials in the right places? 

Perhaps the estimates of travel time is far too short.
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(12-20-2017, 08:50 AM)kavan Wrote: What was the state of the roads in 61 AD?

(12-20-2017, 09:12 AM)David Scothorn Wrote: The majority of roads we know today were probably not even fully surveyed, let alone built... Perhaps the estimates of travel time is far too short.

I wondered about the roads too. I think we can fairly safely say that the main 'military infrastructure' roads would be in place by mid-century: the ones that led from London to the legion bases on the frontier. So - Watling Street ok, the Fosseway and the road to Colchester, the Portway heading west. We know from the paper that David provided above that Alchester was built cAD44, so Akeman Street would be serviceable, and probably linked with the fortresses around Gloucester and Usk.

Beyond that we probably can't be too certain. Would the Via Devana and Ermine Street have been in place by that time? Presumably if there were Roman bases around Lincoln by AD60 they would have constructed a road to get there, but which route would they have followed?

As for travel times - possibly too short, yes, although as I say Watling would have been in use at the time so Paulinus could have followed that at least.

A lot of travel estimates for the initial 'movement' phase of the campaign rely on the idea that Boudica and her rebels swooped down on Colchester and then London in a sort of Blitzkreig advance, and that the Romans would have to race to get ahead of them. This isn't necessarily the case - the rebels could have lingered, spread out, or moved off in various directions. That would at least give Paulinus - and maybe Cerealis too - far more time to get to where they needed to be.

But a shorter time and distance calculation would mean that the second phase of the campaign - after Paulinus's evacuation of London up the final battle - would be even more likely to have happened in the close vicinity of London; neither of the opposing sides would have been moving quickly enough to have got anywhere very far from there in the time they had available.

(Of course, it would all have been quicker by tube! As this rather neat (if perhaps speculative) map makes clear: Roman Roads in Britain)
Nathan Ross
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