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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Quote:"deligitque locum artis faucibus et a tergo silva clausum"

Church and Brodribb... "chose a position approached by a narrow defile, closed in at the rear by a forest"

Michael Grant... "chose a position in a defile with a wood behind him"

So, the key word is "faucibus" [faux] variously translated as throat, gullet, jaws, gorge, ravine, chasm, isthmus, pass and defile. In this context 'defile' seems quite a tame description in comparison to 'gorge' or 'chasm'.
Now this is interesting. The two translations actually seem to site the battle differently - C & B place the position behind the defile (approached by it), whereas Grant has it in the defile... Which is the more accurate translation of 'locum artis faucibus'? The word artis here seems odd, and I can't figure it out: at a guess I'd connect it with art, and say the position was 'shaped like a defile' or something... :???:

On faucibus itself - I'm also reminded of the use of fauces for the vestibule of a Roman house, the entry-way between the street and the atrium. Translating it as 'throat' or 'pass' might imply a position with a road passing over a saddle between sloping hillsides, which open to a wood beyond. Not the narrowing bottleneck valley I'd been imagining...

You seem to be right about the position of the woods though - definitely behind the position, not flanking it. There's the note in Dio's account about Paulinus dividing his force into three - I'd previously imagined that this might be some garbled reference to the three-pronged tactical advance, but that might be fanciful. If the main Roman line closed the 'defile', with auxiliaries and cavalry holding the high ground to either side, that would be a division into three, more or less. Fairly standard formation too, of course.

Still, I would have to argue that descriptions of terrain are necessarily relative. If we imagine Paulinus heading up Watling street, for example, or even along the Portway towards Silchester, then he would be crossing a comparatively flat gentle landscape. In this environment, even a shallow depression between low hills could be considered a 'pass' or 'defile' - he had to work with the terrain that was available to him. To insist on Paulinus's 'defile' matching our criteria for one is potentially to distort the shape of the campaign, sending the Roman force many miles away in search of a battlefield that better meets what we would consider appropriate topography...

Having said this, I would fully endorse your point about sticking close to the texts we have available, and not glossing over aspects that seem troublesome! It's how we interpret the evidence that's important.

(EDIT - I've just realised that this is my 1000th post on RAT! Confusedhock: Not bad after nearly ten years...)
Nathan Ross
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Quote:I've just realised that this is my 1000th post on RAT! Confusedhock: Not bad after nearly ten years...
Congrats!

Quote:Which is the more accurate translation of 'locum artis faucibus'? The word artis here seems odd, and I can't figure it out: at a guess I'd connect it with art, and say the position was 'shaped like a defile' or something... :???:
Grant seems to think that it's an ablative of place. I would agree. "He selected a location in a narrow pass and blocked by a wood at the rear".

Tacitus is a tricky chap to translate. He usually requires a degree of interpretation to supplement a purely literal translation. I notice J.C. Yardley's recent-ish Oxford World's Classics version (2008) goes: "He selected a location where there was a narrow defile and he had the cover of a wood to his rear".
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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Quote:"deligitque locum artis faucibus et a tergo silva clausum"

Church and Brodribb... "chose a position approached by a narrow defile, closed in at the rear by a forest"

Michael Grant... "chose a position in a defile with a wood behind him"

So, the key word is "faucibus" [faux] variously translated as throat, gullet, jaws, gorge, ravine, chasm, isthmus, pass and defile. In this context 'defile' seems quite a tame description in comparison to 'gorge' or 'chasm'.

Quote:Now this is interesting. The two translations actually seem to site the battle differently - C & B place the position behind the defile (approached by it), whereas Grant has it in the defile...

Snap! Wonderful, I've been pondering this for years and thought it was just my pedantic mind playing tricks. Glad I joined this forum. As for which is right, I can't say, don't have the Latin. To my mind C&B's translation seems to imply a bowl shaped feature set within elevated surrounds and approached by a defile. However, outside of the high, glaciated hills in the UK that is a rare configuration which is one reason why I use the more accepted defile/narrow valley definition.

By the way, I know an editor who thinks the Boudican section of T. needs reinterpreting - drop me a PM if interested.

Quote:There's the note in Dio's account about Paulinus dividing his force into three - I'd previously imagined that this might be some garbled reference to the three-pronged tactical advance, but that might be fanciful. If the main Roman line closed the 'defile', with auxiliaries and cavalry holding the high ground to either side, that would be a division into three, more or less. Fairly standard formation too, of course.

I suspect Dio is using the three force approach to allow the orator/actor to spout more nonsense at the dinner guests. I feel a little guilty in saying I ignore Dio.

Quote:Still, I would have to argue that descriptions of terrain are necessarily relative. If we imagine Paulinus heading up Watling street, for example, or even along the Portway towards Silchester, then he would be crossing a comparatively flat gentle landscape. In this environment, even a shallow depression between low hills could be considered a 'pass' or 'defile' - he had to work with the terrain that was available to him. To insist on Paulinus's 'defile' matching our criteria for one is potentially to distort the shape of the campaign, sending the Roman force many miles away in search of a battlefield that better meets what we would consider appropriate topography...

I agree with the relativity statement. However, I think we underestimate Seutonius, as we (mere civilians) tend to do of exceptional generals, partly because accounts of campaigns do not typically explain the planning/contingency process and because we don't have the training or experience to read between the lines. Sitting in London he had already examined all available options, including marching to forts or support in the west, but he would also have contingencies, e.g. fighting a battle. Given his poor chance of victory in any defiled terrain other than a robust one, he would select his line of march accordingly, that is west and into the chalk and limestone uplands. I've written that he probably already had the battle site selected before he left London - train of thought might have been:

march west to sanctuary in Gloucester/Exeter/Cirencester:
Contingency 1) join with 2nd Legion and give battle in place of my choosing;
Contingency 2) 2nd Legion not available but rebels overhauling me, so give battle in place of my choosing;
Contingency 3) rebels are being weakened by lack of food/fodder/water so give battle.

Going west along the Portway is I believe the smart move - Suetonius would make a great chess player. And, if I remember correctly, T. describes him as the greatest general of his time.

You say, "he had to work with the terrain that was available to him". I say he chose the direction of march and the terrain knowing that both maximised his chances.

Must admit that getting a military planner's viewpoint on this topic would be very interesting. More fun though to take Sandhurst students, tell them to pretent to be Suetonius in London, give them all the available information and have them plan their way out of trouble.

Thank you for responding to my note. Regards, Steve Kaye
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Quote:As for which is right, I can't say, don't have the Latin.
Here it is: deligitque locum artis faucibus et a tergo silva clausum, ...

Just to clarify, my translation earlier today was a literal one, which shows that Church & Brodribb have added a layer of interpretation, whereas Grant did not:

Quote:"He selected a location in a narrow pass and blocked by a wood at the rear".
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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Quote: Must admit that getting a military planner's viewpoint on this topic would be very interesting. More fun though to take Sandhurst students, tell them to pretend to be Suetonius in London, give them all the available information and have them plan their way out of trouble.

(My bold highlighting)

Ah yes...but the first consideration of any military planner is the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) or "ground" in old money. (plus a bit more now to be sure) and that's where this all started. :wink:
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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At the risk of flogging any number of dead horses, I thought I might extend this very long thread a little with a bit more armchair speculation... :grin:

While it appear, after much debate, that the western route out of London would be the more likely, I think it's still at least possible that Paulinus retreated northwards up Watling street, and that the battle site might be located in that direction. I've long favoured the Dunstable area - only 30 miles from London, where the road crosses the chalk escarpment of the Chilterns, and only a day's cart-travel from St Albans, last known sighting of Boudica and co.

Looking over some maps of the area, I've tried to match the topography with the description given in Tacitus(to recap: "He chose a position in a defile [faux] with a wood [silva] behind him. He established there could be no enemy except at his front, where there was an open plain [aperta planities] with no fear of ambush. Then he drew up his regular troops in close array [frequens ordinibus], with the light-armed auxiliaries at the flanks and the cavalry massed on the wings. By contrast, unprecedented numbers of British troops and followers paraded wildly everywhere. Their confidence was such that they brought their families to witness the victory, installing them in carts at the extreme border of the field [campus]."

Steve Kaye's article in British Archaeology provides a handy summary of the required terrain features, principally:

1. a defile approximately 1km wide set within an elevated feature. The defile's sides must rise at least 30m above the bottom and have a steep slope (generally over 8°), and must extend at least 1.5km in both directions to discourage mass flanking movements by the Britons.

2. an adjacent, lower elevation, plain (less than 4° of slope) or extensive flat area with gentle slopes, at least 1km across to accommodate the British horde and wagons.

The site I have selected lies on Watling street itself, one mile south-east of the junction with the Iknield way, on the edge of the suburbs of modern Dunstable.

Here it is (approximately) on Google Maps

And on Bing

The elevation of the road rises on a gentle slope between 150 and 160 metres. The southern approach is closed in by slopes on either side of the road, giving a 'defile' feature; in the centre, the ground opens slightly giving an open plain just over 1km broad (north-west of Turnpike Farm and Lodge Farm). Beyond this, the slopes of the Chilterns close on either side, giving steeper escarpments rising to 210 metres elevation on either side. The north-eastern escarpment in particular is quite steep.

This terrain appears to me very similar to that described by Tacitus, and meets the criteria set out in Steve's article. The narrow gap in the hills, now centred on the school buildings, would allow for a Roman line of approximately 750-850 metres width.

The 'defile' to the south-east would constrict the British approach to the site, and a mass of carts placed here would effectively block the retreat from the battlefield.

Tacitus mentions a wood to the rear of the Roman position - this area is now covered by suburban housing, but it's not impossible that the area was forested in antiquity (as it apparently was in medieval times!). Dunstable itself was not a major settlement, but there is a water source just beyond it. A Roman marching camp placed here could be well supplied and protected.

Anyway, in true armchair-doodler style I've made a rough sketch to illustrate my idea of the battle plan:

   

The legionary force holds a  line with the left anchored on Watling street and the right protected by the steep escarpment below Dame Ellen's Woods. Auxiliary light troops on the flanking slopes, and cavalry on the high ground to either side. The British force moving up from St Albans would bunch in the shallow valley around Jockey Farm - from here the Roman force would be visible at the top of the slope ahead.

British attack: the slopes on either side would funnel the advance towards the legionary front line. The British apparently advanced 'at a walk', but they'd have to cover around 2 kms so that would be fine. A last rush once they reach the school playing field would bring them up to the Roman line (wasn't it Waterloo that was 'won on the playing fields of Eton?  :wink: ). Meanwhile, the cavalry deploy along the hilltops to flank the British.

Roman counter-attack: the 'wedge' (whatever it actually was!) would drive out from the Roman centre to split the British force. At the same time, the cavalry move down the lateral valleys to attack the British on the flanks. The British retreat in confusion, but are blocked by the mass of carts and civilians closing the neck of the 'defile'.

So - does that seem feasible? Are the hills high enough, the plain level enough? Is there enough space here for a battle? I'd be interested to know what others, more able in tactical matters, might think...  :?:
Nathan Ross
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Topographically, that is very plausible. However, we do need to consider why Paulinus and Boudica would be in that area. I have made a case for the western route; now let's see if I can do the same for the northern.

If we leave aside the idea that Paulinus had rushed to London with a flying column and was retiring up Watling Street to resume contact with his main force, the only reason that I can see for his being in the Dunstable area would be that he intended to intercept the Iceni returning to their homeland. In doing so, he was liable to be cut off from legio II but this may have been a risk that he was prepared to take. We speak of that legion as if it were the complete unit but perhaps the reason for the apparent absence of the legate and the tribunus laticlavius was that the bulk of the legion had been part of Paulinus' campaigning force in North Wales and that Postumus had been left at the base fortress with just enough men to keep an eye on the south-western tribes - still a substantial force, perhaps, but nothing like as great as Paulinus could call down from the north, if circumstances compelled him to abandon his conquests on Anglesey and to recall his consolidating force to deal with Boudica.

How, however, could Paulinus guarantee that Boudica would return home when no crops had been planted and her people would have to face the winter without food? If he had ordered that the stocks of provisions in London were to be preserved and not burned, as might be expected, the rebels would have been able to gather as much as they wanted into their wagons and then follow their natural instinct to return to their homeland for the winter. A route via Watling Street and the Icknield Way has already been suggested. Paulinus could ensure that, in travelling north himself, he did not get too far ahead of Boudica's band, so that, if she made an unexpected change of direction, he would be able to give chase and overhaul her slower-moving column. His scouts could keep him informed of the enemy's movements. Such a strategy would lead to the final battle taking place somewhere between London and Dunstable and, in the scenario postulated by Nathan, Dunstable itself seems to be a possible site. Paulinus was prepared to sacrifice London and, it seems, Verulamium as well, if there was no suitable site between there and London. Of course, the town may have fallen beforehand.

What do you think? Does that make sense?
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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Quote:How, however, could Paulinus guarantee that Boudica would return home when no crops had been planted and her people would have to face the winter without food?
Autumn planting season? Unless we assume that the Iceni intended to abandon their lands and let them lie fallow all year, they would have to return at some point in late summer to sow crops and vegetables for the winter. Denied the suppies they were expecting in London, this would have been a pressing issue!

Quote:Paulinus could ensure that, in travelling north himself, he did not get too far ahead of Boudica's band, so that, if she made an unexpected change of direction, he would be able to give chase and overhaul her slower-moving column.
I agree. Besides which, Boudica could only advance westwards at the risk of putting her force between two Roman legions - II Augusta somewhere ahead and Paulinus to the north, ready to fall on the British rearguard. Not a pleasant situation for the leader of a tribal horde. Paulinus being 'skillful', perhaps?

Another point - Dio says that Paulinus was running short of supplies himself. How could this be if he was marching into the friendly agricultural territories to the west? He also made sure, in chosing his battle site, that he had no enemies to his rear - not a consideration if he was in allied territory. These points only make sense if he had withdrawn north, into the disputed and potentially hostile land beyond St Albans...
Nathan Ross
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A (very) quick profile analysis gives about 400m level width at the Roman end of your diagram, 200m level width just to the nor'north west of Jockey Farm where you postulate the wedge meets the Britons but at the Britons' end it is less than 50m.

The Britons clearly passed through this narrow piece of ground and advanced on the Roman line which was , one presumes, visibile to them.

The cavalry on the Roman right have the most room for manoeuvre on the flat hill west of the current Lodge Farm and the slope would not be too steep for horses to swoop down at pace (two hundred metres in height over three hundred metres distance to the south of the same farm)...

If this is the site of the battle, one would have to ask why on earth the Britons took them on particularly when they had their baggage train right up close. Perhaps they were not expecting to find the Romans waiting for them and were caught on the hop (technical military term... :mrgreen: )
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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Quote:If this is the site of the battle, one would have to ask why on earth the Britons took them on particularly when they had their baggage train right up close. Perhaps they were not expecting to find the Romans waiting for them and were caught on the hop (technical military term... :mrgreen: )
Yes, it is a bit of a death trap for the Britons - but since that is, in fact, what happened I don't think that should count against it! Paulinus was acclaimed as a skilful general after the campaign, so we can assume he drew the British into something of a checkmate...

Perhaps one of the niceties of this position is that by pulling his force back half a mile or so to the north-west, Paulinus could keep them on the far side of the saddle and thus out of sight of anyone advancing up Watling street. The slopes to either side of the road would constrict the British advance, and by the time the Romans deployed across the gap Boudica would have found it very difficult, with all the carts and baggage in her train, to reverse or manoeuvre.

The choice for the Britons would therefore be to either attempt a difficult and dangerously chaotic 180 degree about-turn, or attack what must have appeared to be a rather small Roman force blocking the road ahead...
Nathan Ross
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Sorry, I was not implying it should count against it at all - quite the opposite!

Perhaps Paulinus did lure them in (the edges of Dunstable make it difficult to fully appreciate what ground Paulinus had behind him) or perhaps the Britons' confidence in success made them overly bold.

The fact that the bagggage train was so close behind suggests to me that Paulinus sprang a very well planned trap on an unprepared enemy.

I think it's a very plausible answer to a fascinating question.
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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"At the risk of flogging any number of dead horses, I thought I might extend this very long thread a little with a bit more armchair speculation..."

thanks for bringing it back, I've been missing it and it's certainly the most intelligent conversation on the 100 year debate of the topic that I'm aware of.

While it appear, after much debate, that the western route out of London would be the more likely, I think it's still at least possible that Paulinus retreated northwards up Watling street, and that the battle site might be located in that direction.

I haven't seen anything to suggest the western route is "more" likely, so I can't let that statement go un-challenged. The western route remains a possibility but no more than that. But you are naming and testing a site, I have yet to see that from the western route protagonists (come on Westerners give us a site).

The northern location allows the Romans to maintain control of the Watling Street/Fosse Way axis, the loss of this would have been a disaster. Access to Legio II would be as easy/safer up Fosse Way than up the Thames Valley, the distances are not significantly different.

The northern location maintains contact with the rear guard covering the new gains up to Mona.

The northern location holds the core confluence of the major rivers which was potentially strategic/communication resource.

The northern location gives the potential for a central mustering position for Paulinus, II and the XI assuming P wasn't aware of quite how minced up the XI had been.(we assume he was fully aware, he may not have been when he selected a site to muster and make his stand and sent messages to II to that effect)

Whilst it is obvious the Romans were using the new fangled roads, it is by no means certain that the Brits were, what would be the older routes around the country?

The northern location maintains a Roman force in a position to threaten the depopulated East Anglian targets.

I'm not convinced from the texts, or common sense, that the Brits were moving around in a single mass/column from empty target to empty target.

To the site;
Steve Kaye has put a lot of effort into the water consumption issue,the Dunstable site is on Chalk (the Chalk pits the clue) so I think the site falls down horribly on the water supply issues.

The tactical situation suggests the high ground isn't defensible in a meaningful way due to flanking potential from Markyate onto the ridge. I believe the chalk downlands were cleared of woodland fairly early but I cannot be certain in this particular location. Marix Evans postulated there were "forests" around the Towcester sites due to the pre-dominance of Boulder Clays which were cleared quite late.

There is no plain, even with the most optimistic eye I cannot see one.

So how to test the theory;

Where did the Romans muster (Church Stowe I'm trying to show they had camps)
Where did the Brits muster (Church Stowe I'm looking at Hunsbury Hill as a potential)
Where did the water come from?
How could the flanks be protected?
What is the reason for making a stand there? was it the holy place being despoiled by the Romans?

It seems pretty clear that the numbers involved on both sides wouldn't just turn up and fight, more likely a day or even 3 of forces mustering together.

Thanks for bringing the thread back with a serious contender, I still buy the northern route but I can't buy this site for this event.
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Quote:Perhaps Paulinus did lure them in (the edges of Dunstable make it difficult to fully appreciate what ground Paulinus had behind him) or perhaps the Britons' confidence in success made them overly bold.
I agree. The British had nothing but success over the past weeks, so any Roman force on the horizon would probably appear to them as yet another easy victory.

A question about intelligence though: can we assume that the British were aware of the positions of either Paulinus and Legio II?
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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for ref here is the bit from the Annals re the retreat fom London;

[14.33] Suetonius, however, with wonderful resolution, marched amidst a hostile population to Londinium, which, though undistinguished by the name of a colony, was much frequented by a number of merchants and trading vessels. Uncertain whether he should choose it as a seat of war, as he looked round on his scanty force of soldiers, and remembered with what a serious warning the rashness of Petilius had been punished, he resolved to save the province at the cost of a single town. Nor did the tears and weeping of the people, as they implored his aid, deter him from giving the signal of departure and receiving into his army all who would go with him. Those who were chained to the spot by the weakness of their sex, or the infirmity of age, or the attractions of the place, were cut off by the enemy. Like ruin fell on the town of Verulamium, for the barbarians, who delighted in plunder and were indifferent to all else, passed by the fortresses with military garrisons, and attacked whatever offered most wealth to the spoiler, and was unsafe for defence. About seventy thousand citizens and allies, it appeared, fell in the places which I have mentioned. For it was not on making prisoners and selling them, or on any of the barter of war, that the enemy was bent, but on slaughter, on the gibbet, the fire and the cross, like men soon about to pay the penalty, and meanwhile snatching at instant vengeance.

So it's the text versus the sites, you can read this as a westward movement of the Brits, also that P was in London himself with his entire Army. But it's just a text (propoganda)Did 70k fall at London and St Albans? that doesn't seem to be what the archaeology suggests to date. Was P marching "to" or "towards"? maybe he took that view about London whilst on the march and gathered citizens who were imploring from anywhere or on London behalf. Maybe P's "Army" wasn't his full force? It's way too easy to interpret such scant text to fit any scenario we want particularly when Tacitus' motives and precision are in question even before we get to the issue of translation.

One other point, where were the garrisoned sites that were bypassed? any thoughts if this was one big mob, why would they not mop them up as they went? at least put them under siege.
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Quote:I haven't seen anything to suggest the western route is "more" likely, so I can't let that statement go un-challenged. The western route remains a possibility but no more than that.
I seem to remember you offering to throw in the towel on precisely that issue a couple of months back, John! :wink: But you're right, of course - both routes are no more than possibilities, as there's so much we don't know... I don't see anyone bringing down the gavel on this problem any time soon!

Quote:I think the site falls down horribly on the water supply issues.
This is a problem, but perhaps not an insurmountable one. Chalk is notoriously dry, but around the edges of the Chilterns there are springs and streams; Ouzel Brook, about a mile north-west of Dunstable, drains a wide area of flat ground. If (as I suggested above), Paulinus made his camp around the site of modern Dunstable itself he would have access (albeit distant) to water. The Britons, on the other hand, would have a thirsty journey up from the south-east...

Quote:The tactical situation suggests the high ground isn't defensible in a meaningful way due to flanking potential from Markyate onto the ridge.
Again true, although I think you'd be hard pressed to find a site that couldn't be flanked by a determined and well-informed enemy. One possibility might be that the Britons had large numbers of carts with them, which they were unwilling to leave unprotected while their warriors (all members of family groups) sallied off up the hills looking for the Romans...

Quote:I believe the chalk downlands were cleared of woodland fairly early but I cannot be certain in this particular location.
In this case I can offer at least a shred of evidence - the area around Dunstable and the north-west slopes of the Chilterns was notoriously forested in the early middle ages; "Leofstan, abbot of St. Albans, was obliged, a short time before the Conquest, to clear the Chiltern hills of their forests, which afforded a retreat to banditti", says the Gentleman's Magazine of 1821 (!), and a royal proclamation of 1110 ordered the area of Dunstable to be deforested, as it was 'a haunt of robbers'. Patterns of forestation in antiquity are another of those known unknowns, but I think we'd be safe in assuming forests hereabout...

Quote:There is no plain, even with the most optimistic eye I cannot see one.
I see the plain - it's more the hills I'm worried about!
Here's a view from Google, looking more or less due east across the widest area of the 'plain', from just south-east of the junction of the A4 and Dunstable Road. The wooded area to the left slopes up towards the higher escarpment; the slopes behind the viewpoint are rather steeper and closer to the road:

[attachment=3801]Panorama1.jpg[/attachment]

And here's the view a little more south-east from the same position - the buildings are Lodge Farm and Turnpike Farm:

[attachment=3802]Panorama2.jpg[/attachment]

That appears to me to offer enough open and relatively level ground for a battle - or at least what an observer might refer to as an 'open plain'. I suspect that the elevation of the surrounding hills is rather deceptive in these views - they could be steeper than they look!

Quote:It seems pretty clear that the numbers involved on both sides wouldn't just turn up and fight, more likely a day or even 3 of forces mustering together.
Quite so. I would imagine that Paulinus and his men had been in the vicinity for some days, camping over the saddle in the Dunstable area (after clearing the trees, of course!). The Britons would be progressing very slowly up Watling street from St Albans (about a day away by cart) - once the Romans revealed themselves the British would be plugged in the defile south of Jockey Farm. I can imagine them spending quite some time bringing their fighting men to the front and spreading along the slopes of the hills. Their deployment, however, would be naturally hampered by the 'defile' - quite possibly they just camped along the line of the road.

As for your other points, as I say there are a great many things we simply don't know - did Paulinus know what had happened to II Augusta? Was he waiting for them to join him (coming up the Iknield way, perhaps, if he was north of London?) How aware were the Britons of what Paulinus was doing? Where were these fortified places they supposedly bypassed? Would Boudica have deliberately led her force northwards to seek and destroy Paulinus? How much effective control could she (or whatever other commander(s) the Britons might have had) actually exercise over the very large British force? Did they move in a mass, or in a multitude of ravaging bands? And so on...


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Nathan Ross
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