button to main menu  Camden's Britannia, edn 1789

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Page 212:-
  amp; VALLUM.

  turf wall
  stone wall
  The Wall, length

"completed by Severus." The very learned Hieronymus Surita of Spain also writes that [q] "Hadrian's fortification was continued further by Severus with vast works by the name of Vallum." Guido Pancirollus is of the same opinion, though he says that Severus only repaired Hadrian's wall, which was ruined. This prince, says Spartian [r], which is the greatest glory of his reign, foritfied Britain with a "wall run across the island, and terminating both ways at the sea, whence also he had the name of BRITANNICUS. He fortified with a wall, says Aurelius Victor [s], as much of Britain as was necessary, after having repulsed the barbarians, &c. " to the same effect as Spartianus. Eutropius [t] says "for the more perfect security of the provinces which he had recovered, he drew a wall 35 miles" (read 80 miles) "from sea to sea." Orosius [u] writes "he thought proper to distinguish that part of the island which he had recovered from the other unconquered nations by a wall. Accordingly he dug a great ditch and raised a very strong wall fortified with a great number of towers for 122 miles from sea to sea." With him agrees Bede, who is very unwilling to own that Severus built the wall, because he will have it that Wall implies stone work, and Vallum a fortification of stakes called Valli and sods; whereas Wall and Vallum are used indistinctly. Spartianus, however, calls it a wall, and insinuates in the following passage that Severus built both a wall and rampart: Post murum apud Vallum in Britannia missum [x]. After the Wall the Vallum in Britain was finished. We learn, however, from Bede, that this Vallum was nothing more than a wall of sods, and nobody can, properly speaking, say that Severus's wall was of stone. But, take Bede's own words. "Severus' having got the better of civil commotions, which had been very considerable, was called into Britain by an almost general revolt of his allies. After many great and severe battles, having recovered part of the island, he thought proper to separate it from the rest of the nations that remained unsubdued, not by a wall, as some think, but by a rampart [y]. For a wall is built of stone; but a rampart, such as camps are fortified with against an enemy, is formed of sods cut out of the ground, and raised like a high wall upon the level of the ground, the ditch from whence the sods were taken remaining in front, above which are driven stakes of the strongest wood. Severus, therefore, drew a great ditch and stout rampart fotified with a great number of towers erected on it from sea to sea [z]." Nor has it any other name than Vallum in Antoninus and the Notitia, and it is called in British Guall Sever. In confirmation of this let us hear Ethelwerd [a] the oldest writer after Bede, speaking of Severus. "He drew a ditch in the island aforementioned crossways from sea to sea, and built within it a wall with towers and battlements." He afterwards [b] calls it Fossa Severia, Severus' ditch, as do the antient Saxon Annals [c], [Severus Brytenland mid dic forgyrd fram sea oth sea], q.d. Severus inclosed Britain with a dike from sea to sea; and others of later date, [Severus on Brytene gethorht theal of turfum fram sea to sea.] Severus in Britain made a wall of turf from sea to sea. Malmesbury [d] also calls it "the famous and well-known ditch." In which place, near 200 years after, was built a wall of stone, of which hereafter.
  Lands, why granted to the commanders along the borders.
  Original of feudal tenures.

  land tenure
  feudal tenure

When Eutropius makes the length of this wall 35 miles, Victor 32, and other writers 132 [e], I suspect some error has crept into the numbers. For the island is not so broad hereabouts, even allowing all the winding ascents and descents of the wall. But if we reduce these to Italian miles, we shall find them a little more than 80, as rightly given by Spartianus. This fortification seems in a few years to have been neglected. But when the emperor Alexander Severus, as we read in Lampridius [f], "divided among the officers and soldiers on the borders only, the lands taken from the enemy to be theirs in perpetuity provided their heirs continued in the service, and never to become the property of private persons, supposing they would be more attentive to their duty if the lands they defended were their own:" this passage [g] deserves observation, as from hence we may derive the feudal tenure or a species of fiefs: the Romans then advancing beyond the wall, and erecting and fortifying stations in the enemy's country, carried the bounds of the empire again to Bodotria, till driven back presently after to Severus's wall by the barbarians, who were continually raising one disturbance after another. Dioclesian took particular care to maintain these bourns, and when under him the command in Britain ws granted to Carausius, as a fitter person to act against the warlike nations, he repaired the Praetentura between Glota and Bodotria, as will be mentioned in its place. Constantine the Great is charged with having first neglected this frontier. For thus Zosimus [h]: "The Roman empire being by the care of Dioclesian well fortified in all its frontiers with cities, castles, and towns, and all the forces quartered in them, it was impossible for the barbarians to pass them, soldiers being ready to oppose them everywhere. These garrisons Constantine suppressed, and placed the greatest part of the troops which he removed from the frontier in towns that wanted no garrisons; leaving the frontiers to be harrassed by the barbarians without defence, burdening with the plague of soldiers towns that were quiet and orderly, by which many are depopulated, and the soldiery themselves enervated by theatrical amusements and pleasure. In short, to say the whole in one word, he laid the foundation and seeds of the present decline of the state [i]."
  About A.D. 367.
This tract between the Clusurae or Praetenturae Theodosius, father of the emperor Theodosius, so entirely recovered, that he rebuilt the cities, garrisoned the castle, secured the frontier with troops and lines, and restored it so much to its original state,
[q] Not. in Ant. Itin. p.621.
[r] V. Sev. c.18. p.354.
[s] P. c.21.
[t] VIII. c.19. 32 Horsl. 61, 62. owing to its being written LXXXII or V. and the L. omitted, or a C. added. Ib.
[u] VII. 17.
[x] c.22. p.263. Salmasius copies it Post murum aut vallum, but Horsley, p.62. prefers the original reading, implying that the stone wall was built near the turf one, but not on the same foundation. Gale reads murum apud Walton. MS. n.
[y] He separated and secured it [mid dice & mid eofth thealle], with a ditch and an earth wall, says Alfred. So also, c.12.
[z] H.E. I. 5.
[a] I. p.474. Ed. Franc.
[b] Ubi sup.
[c] A.D.189. So Wheeloc's copy, but the Cambrdge MS. and Gibson's edition, p.7. from the Cotton. [Severus gethorhte theall of turfum & breden theal than on ufon fram sae to sae.]]
[d] De gestis reg. I. c.1.
[e] See before.
[f] v. Alex. Sev. c.58. nec unquam ad privatos pertinerent.
[g] See Casaubon's note on the passage.
[h] B. 2.
[i] Ammina. Marcellin. xxxviii.
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