button to main menu  Camden's Britannia, edn 1789

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Page 215:-


Quanta Caledonis attollet gloria campos
Cum tibi longaevus referet trucis incola terrae
Hic suetus dare jura parens: hoc cespite turmas
Affari; Nitidas speculas castellaque longe
Aspicis? Ille dedit, cinxitque haec moenia fossa,
Belligeris hic dona deis, haec tela dicavit.
Cernis adhuc titulos: hunc ipse vacantibus armis
Induit, hunc regi tapuit thoraca Britanno.
Statius v Sylvar.
  roman wall no.1
  Agricola's Wall

Dio calls the wall sometimes barely Τειχος, and defines it Τειχοσ το διοιζον τας Βιρεγαννου χαι τα των Ρωμαιων σραγοπεδα [a]. All that Herodian says of it is, that Severus's army crossed the forts and earth-works (ρευμαγα, (l. ρυμαγα or ερευμαγα), και χωμαγα τησ Ρωμαιων αρχης), that formed the frontier of the Roman empire here. What Mr. Camden calls the first Praetentura, and supposes to have been made by Agricola, was only a chain of forts formed and garrisoned by him in his third expedition [b].
Praetenturae & stationes agrariae are mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus xxxi. 8. [c]
Sir John Clerk writing to R. Gale about this wall, concludes with these words: "After all, I cannot but take notice of two things with regard to this wall that have given me great matter of speculation. The first is, why it was made at all, for it could never be a proper defence, and perhaps at Boulnesse less than at any other place, since our barbarian forefathers on the north side could pass over at low water, or if the sea was then higher or deeper than it is now, could make their attacks from the north-east side by land. The second is, why the Scots historians, vain enough by nature, have not taken more pains to describe this wall, a performance which did their ancestors more honour than all the trifling stories put together, which they have transmitted to us. 'Tis true, the Romans walled out humanity from them; but 'tis as certain they thought the Caledonians a very formidable people whem they at so much labour and cost built this wall as before they had made a vallum between Forth and Clyde [d]."
  The Wall, structure
  military ways

Hadrian's vallum consists of a principal vallum or agger on the brink of the ditch; the ditch on the north side of the vallum, another agger on the south side of the vallum and about five paces from it, which I call the fourth agger; and a large agger on the north side of the ditch called the north agger. This I suppose was the military way to the antient praetentura of stations, and it must have served for a military way to this work also, or it is plain there was none attending it. The fourth agger I suppose has been either made for an inner defence in case the enemy might beat them from any part of the principal vallum, or to protect the soldiers from any sudden attack from the provincial Britans. It is in general somewhat smaller than the principal vallum, though in some places as large. These four works keep all the way a constant regular parallelism one to another [e].
  Severus's Wall
Severus's wall is called both murus and vallum in the Latin historians, but it is nowhere said or implied that it was only of earth, as it is of the other two; so that the stone wall, of which so much is still remaining, has been undeniably the wall of Severus, built near Hadrian's turf one, but not on the same foundation, which is certain matter of fact and worth the historian's remark. This may be one reason why some have supposed that Severus only repaired Hadrian's vallum, concluding from the nearness of the two works that they must have been done by the same hand and at the same time. It was finished before Severus was returned to York, consequently soon after the peace was concluded. Its date may be fixed to the year 208 from the inscription on the rock over the river Gelt [f], which agrees with Cassiodorus' Chronicon [g]. To this work belongs a paved military way, which has every where attended it on the south side, though not always parallel to it. It sometimes coincides with Hadrian's north agger, but whenever this has been too ruinous or otherwise inconvenient, the new way always accompanied Severus's wall, and came up near to every castellum on it, and has therefore no doubt been made at the same time and directly for its service. Someting like a lesser military way near the wall for the convenience of small particular passages from turret to turret appeared in one or two places. There is also belonging to this work a large ditch on the north side of the wall, but nothing that can be considered as a sufficient proof of a north agger, though sometimes the rubbish thrown out of the ditch may raise the round near it a little and form somewhat like a glacis [h].
  roman forts
  mile castles

In order to form a general idea of the wall and its original state, it will necessary to have a knowledge of the castles. All of them, except one near Harlow hill, which I suppose to have been built before the wall, are 66 feet square, the wall itself forming their north side. The intervals between them are not always the same, but, except two or three at the east end of the wall, always less than half a mile, i.e. from six furlongs and an half to seven. They are constantly called Castle steeds by the country-people, and the castra stativa or aestiva usually Chesters. These Castella seem to have stood closest where the stations are widest, and are by some modern authors called mile castles or milliary castella. In the last edition of Camden's Britannia they are by mistake said to be of a very different shape and size: perhaps the remains of two or three castle steeds they do not join to the wall, and of one that does may have oc-
[a] lxxii. c.8. p.820. Horsl. 116.
[b] Horsl. 40. 98. Tac. v. Agr. c.23.
[c] MS. Gale.
[d] Ap. 19. 1739. Reliq. Galean. p.332.
[e] Horsl. 117.
[f] See p.203.
[g] Horsl. 61-67.
[h] Ib. 118.
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