Britannia, by William Camden

Vallum;
or,

The Picts Wall.

praetentura clusurae praetenturae praetendendo agrariae

Big T THAT famous Wall, which was the boundary of the Roman Province, call’d by ancient Writers, Vallum Barbaricum, Prætentura, and Clusura, i.e. the Barbarous Wall, the Line, the Fence or Hedge;The Fences in the Frontiers of the Provinces are call’d Clusuræ, ab excludendo, from shutting out the enemy; and Præ­tenturæ à præ­tendendo, from being stretched out against the enemy.
See P. Pithæus, in Advers. l.1. c.14.
by Dio Greek, or Thorough-wall; by Herodian Greek, or A vast Ditch; by Antoninus, Cassiodorus, and others, Vallum; by Bede Murus; by the Britains Gual-Sever, Gal-Sever, and Mur-Sever; by the Scots Scottis-waith; by the English and those that live about it, the Picts-wall, or the Pehits-wall, also, the Keepe-wall, and by way of eminence, The Wall: crosses the upper-part of Cumberland; and is not by any means to be pass’d over in silence. ⌈(The upper-part (I say) if we express it according to the custom of the Latins, who call the more northern tract of any Country, Pars superior; but otherwise, more justly called by the neighbouring Inhabitants, the Low-land.)⌉

When, by the Providence of God, and their own Valour, the affairs of the Romans had succeeded beyond expectation, and the ambitious bravery of that people had so enlarg’d their Conquests on all sides, that they began to be jealous of their own greatness; the Emperors thought it most advisable to set some boundsLimits or bounds of the Empire. to their Dominions. For, like prudent Politicians, they observ’d that Greatness ought to have its bounds; just as the Heavens keep their exact compass, and the Seas are toss’d about within their own limits. Now these bounds were either natural, as the Sea, the larger Rivers, Mountains, Deserts; or artificial, viz. Fences placed on purpose for that end; such are Ditches, Castles, Towers, * * Concædes.Barricadoes of Trees, and Walls of Earth or Stone, with Garrisons planted along them to keep out the Barbarians.Concaedes Whereupon, it is said in Theodosius’s Novels;Tit.43. By the contrivance of our Ancestors, whatever is under the power of the Romans, is defended against the incursions of Barbarians, by a Boundary-wall. In times of peace, the Frontier-garrisons were kept along the Line, in Castles and Cities; but when they were apprehensive of the incursions of their neighbours, then part of them, for the defence of their own, pitch’d their Tents in the Enemies Country,Hence we meet with Stationes Agrariæ in Vegetius. and part made excursions into the Enemies quarters, to observe their motions, and to engage, if they could, upon an advantage.

In this Island, particularly; when they found, that those more remote parts of Britain had nothing agreeable either in the Air or the Soil, that they were inhabited by that barbarous crew, the Caledonians, and that the advantages of subduing them would not answer the trouble; they did at several times contrive several Fences, to bound and secure the Province. The first Prætentura. The first of that kind seems to have been made by Julius Agricola, when he placed Garrisons along that narrow slip of ground between * * Bodotria & Glotta.Edenborrow-Frith and Dunbritten-Frith; which was afterwards fortify’d, as occasion requir’d. ⌈But we are not to suppose, that this Prætentura of Agricola, had any thing of Walls or Rampires; since the learned † † Ant. Eccl. Brit. p.316.Archbishop Usher has prov’d out of Tacitus, that Agricola only garrison’d the Frontiers at this place, without contriving any other fence. It is likely, that according to the Roman custom, he plac’d some of his troops within the limits of the Barbarians Country, intra fines Horestorum: for these Horesti were not the inhabitants on the river Esk, near the borders of England (as hath been asserted) but those of Angus and Mernes, as the Scotch Historians sufficiently evidence, particularly the learned ¦ ¦ Defence, p.79.Sir George Mackenzie. ** See in Scotland.Not but the foundation of the name may, for all that, stand good, and the Horesti be deriv’d from Ar-Esc; considering there is a South as well as a North Esk.⌉

Hadrian, for whom the God Terminus retreated,The second Prætentura. made the second Fence, after he had retir’d about eighty miles, either out of envy to the glory of Trajan (under whom the Empire was at it’s utmost extent,) or out of fear. He (says Spartian) drew a Wall of eighty miles in length, to divide the Barbarians and the Romans; which one may gather, from what follows in Spartian, to have been made in fashion of aMuralis sepis. Some read Militaris.Mural hedge, being large stakes fix’d deep in the ground, and fasten’d together.AElia AElius Boetius And this is it which we are now speaking of; for it runs along, eighty miles together; and upon it, are the Pons Ælia, ⌈(which by the sound should seem to be Pont-Eland in Northumberland,)⌉ Classis Ælia, Cohors Ælia, Ala Sabiniana, which took their names from Ælius Hadrianus and Sabina his wife. And the Scotch Historian, who wrote the Rota Temporum,Rota Temporum. tells us, That Hadrian did first draw a Wall of a prodigious bigness made of Turfs (of that height that it looks like a mountain, with a deep ditch before it) from the mouth of the Tine to the river Eske, i.e. from the German to the Irish Ocean. Which Hector Boêtius delivers in the very same words.

⌈With reference to the foremention’d retreat of the God Terminus,The God Terminus. it may be observed here, that not many years ago, was found (on the ruins of the Wall, a little below Carlisle) a small wing’d image of brass, somewhat more than half a foot in length, well agreeing with the description which some of the ancients have given us of the God Terminus.⌉

Lollius Urbicus, Lieutenant of Britain under Antoninus Pius, did by his great success remove the Bounds again to the place where Julius Agricola had first set them, and rais’d a Wall there, which was the third FenceThe third Prætentura. or Prætentura. He (says Capitolinus) conquer’d the Britains, and driving back the Barbarians, made another Wall of Turf, i.e. distinct from that of Hadrian. The honour of Lollius’s success in Britain was by Fronto (as the Panegyrist has it) given entirely to Antoninus the Emperour; affirming, that though he liv’d quietly in his Palace at Rome, and had only given out a Commission to the Lieutenant, yet he had merited all the glory; as a Pilot steering a large Ship deserves the whole honour of the expedition. But, that this Wall of Antoninus Pius, and of his Lieutenant Lollius Urbicus, was in Scotland, shall be shewn hereafter.

When the Caledonian Britains,The fourth Prætentura. under Commodus the Emperour, had broke thorow this; Severus neglecting that farther Wall, and that large Country between, drew a Wall cross the Island, from Solway-Frith to Tinmouth. And this (if I judge aright) was along the very same ground, where Hadrian had before made his of stakes. In which I have the Opinion of Hector Boëtius on my side. Boetius Praetentura Severus (says he) order’d Hadrian’s Wall to be repair’d, and Stone-fortresses to be built upon it, and Turrets at such a distance as the sound of a Trumpet, against the wind, might be heard from one to another. And elsewhere: Our Annals tell us, that the Wall which was begun by Hadrian, was finish’d by Severus. The learned Spaniard also, Hieronymus Surita, tells us, that Hadrian’s Fence was * * Longius productum fuisse.carry’d on and compleated with vast works, by Septimius Severus, and had the name of Vallum given it. Guidus Pancirolus likewise affirms, that Severus only repair’d Hadrian’s Wall, which was fall’n. He (says Spartian) secur’d Britain by a Wall cross the Island, from sea to sea; which is the great glory of his Government: whereupon he took the name of Britannicus. He clear’d Britain (says Aurelius Victor) of the enemy, and fenc’d-in as much of it with a Wall, as was judg’d for his interest. Which also we meet with in Spartian. And Eutropius; That he might make the utmost provision for the security of the Provinces he had got, he drew a Wall, for thirty five miles together (read eighty) from sea to sea. And he found it necessary (says Orosius) to separate with a Wall that part of the Island which he had possess’d himself of, from the other Nations that were unconquer’d. For which reason, he drew a great Ditch, and built a strong Wall fortify’d with several Turrets, from sea to sea, one hundred twenty two miles in length. Bede agrees with him, but is not willing to believe that Severus built a Wall; urging, that a MurusMurus & Vallum. or Wall is made of stone, but a Vallum of pales (call’d Valli) and turf; (notwithstanding which, it is certain that Vallum and Murus are promiscuously us’d.) However, Spartian calls it Murus, and hints that Severus built both a Murus and a Vallum, in these words,Guil. Malmesb. Post Murum apud Vallum in Britannia missum. But one may gather from Bede, that this Vallum was nothing but a Wall of turf; and it cannot be affirmed with any truth, that Severus’s Wall was of stone. However, take Bede’s own words: Severus having quieted the Civil Commotions (at that time very high) was forc’d-over into Britain by almost a general defection of his Allies. There, after several great and difficult engagements, he thought it necessary to separate that part of the Island which he had recover’d, from the other Nations that were unconquer’d; not with a Murus, as some think, but with a Vallum. Now a Murus is of stone; but a Vallum, such as they made round a Camp to secure it against the attacks of the enemy, is made of turf cut regularly out of the ground, and built high above-ground like a Wall, with the Ditch before it, out of which the turf has been dug; and strong * * Sudes.Stakes of wood all along the brink. Severus therefore drew a great Ditch, and built a strong earthen Wall, fortify’d with several Turrets, from sea to sea. Nor is it express’d by any other word than Vallum, either in Antoninus or the Notitia: and in British it is call’d Guall-Sever. ⌈The Royal † † Eccl. Hist. l.1. c.5. Paraphrast upon Bede, says, it was Saxon mid dice and Saxon mid eorth-wealle, i.e. with a ditch, and a turf of Earth; and afterwards, speaking of a later fabrick of Stone in the same place,L.1. c.12. he says, it was built Saxon thaer Saxon Severus Saxon se Casere Saxon iu het Saxon dician eorth-wall Saxon gewircan, i.e. where Severus the Emperor commanded a ditch and a turf-wall to be made.⌉ Take also what Ethelwerd (the most ancient Writer we have, next Bede) has said of Severus: He drew a Ditch cross the foresaid Island from sea to sea, and within it, built a * * Murum.Wall with turrets and Forts. This he afterwards calls Fossa Severia; as do also our ancient Saxon-Annals, Saxon Severus Saxon Britenland Saxon mid dic Saxon forgyrd fram Saxon sae oth sae, i.e. Severus girt in Britain with a dike from sea to sea. And other Annals of later date, Saxon Severus on Saxon Brytene Saxon gewohrt weal Saxon of turfum Saxon fram sae to sae, i.e. Severus made a Wall of turf (or a Vallum) from sea to sea. Malmesbury also calls it the eminent and famous Ditch. In the place whereof, a Wall of Stone was built about two hundred years after; of which we shall have occasion to speak by and by.victoriae

⌈(There are some of Severus’sVaillant. Numism. p.237, 239. Coins yet extant with this Inscription, VICTORIÆ BRIT. and on the Reverse, the figure of Victory, holding a Trophy in her left hand, and dragging a Captive in the right. Others have the portraicture of Severus on Horseback trampling upon his Enemies. And lately, it is said, there was found, not far from Carlisle, near the Vallum, a stone with this Inscription, Sept. Severo Imp. qui Murum hunc condidit.)⌉

As to Eutropius’s making the length thirty five miles, and Victor thirty two, and other Authors one hundred thirty two: I fansy, this diference must have risen from a corruption in the Numerals. For the Island is not one hundred thirty two miles broad at this place, even though you reckon the winding course of the Wall with the ascents and descents; and tho’ you take your computation according to the Italian miles, you’ll make it amount to little more than eighty, as Spartian has truly stated the account. ⌈Let us then try, how far these differences may be reconciled. Eutropius sets it at XXXII; and if some others have XXXV, it is easie to imagine, that a little inadvertency in the Transcriber might change II into V.  Thus far the Account seems to make for Buchanan, that Severus’s fortification was really between the two Friths of Edenburrow and Dumbritton. And Paulus Orosius, (who computes its length at CXXXII miles) goes so far beyond the extent of that which reach’d from Solway to Tinmouth, that thence no true estimate is to be had. But it is most likely, that this whole difference is to be stated from Spartian, who (rightly) asserts, that the extent of Hadrian’s ditch was LXXX miles. Out of this number, probably (by the heedless change of L into C) the copyers of Orosius made CXXX, and by a careless dropping of the same Letter, the transcribers of Eutropius turn’d it into XXX.⌉

A few years after, they seem to have begun to neglect this Wall. But when the Emperour Alexander Severus (as we read in Lampridius)Why the grounds [along the Frontiers] were granted to the Commanders there. had given such Lands as were taken from the Enemy, to the Frontier-garrisons and their Officers, so as all was to be theirs, upon condition that their heirs too were brought up in the service of the Empire, and never put under the command of private persons; reckoning they would be more diligent and couragious when they fought for their own: (I desire, particular notice may be taken of this, because here we have either the original of Feudal-tenures,Original of Feudal Tenures. or at least a species of them:) Then the Romans pass’d the Wall, and fixing in the Country of the Barbarians, built and mann’d garrisons, and by degrees carried the bounds of the Empire as far as Bodotria. Not but the Barbarians by sallies and skirmishes, drove them back, now and then, to Severus’s Wall. Dioclesian took great care to keep his ground, under whom the government of Britain was granted to Carausius, as a person every way fit to engage such a desperate People; and he (as we shall observe in its proper place) ¦ ¦ Restituit.restor’d the old Barrier between Glotta and Bodotria. Constantine the Great is the first, whom we find censur’d for neglecting this Boundary. For Zosimus says,Lib.2. that when the utmost bounds of the Roman Empire were, by the wise conduct of Dioclesian, fortify’d with Towns, Castles, and Burrows, wherein all our Troops were garrison’d; it was not possible for the Barbarians to make inroads, their Enemy being planted in all parts to receive them. But Constantine, quitting that custom of Forts and Garrisons, remov’d the better half of the Soldiers from the Frontiers, into Towns which had no occasion for them, and so, at the same time, expos’d the Marches to the inroads of the Barbarians, and pester’d the Cities, that had liv’d quietly and undisturb’d, with quartering of Soldiers; by which means several of them were left desolate without Inhabitants. The decay of the Roman Empire. The Soldiers themselves he effeminated with shows and pleasures; and in a word, laid the first foundation of that gradual decay and ruin, which is at this day so visible in the Empire.

Marcellin. l.38. The Country between the two Frontier-fences was so entirely recover’d by Theodosius, father of Theodosius the Emperour,About the year 367. that he built Cities in it, and garrison’d the Castles, and fortify’d the Borders with Watches and Barriers; and having thus recover’d it, he so compleatly reduc’d it to the former condition, as to set over it a * * Rectorem legitimum. lawful Governour; and it was call’d Valentia,Valentia. in honour of Valentinian. Codex Theodosii. Also, Theodosius his son, when his signal courage had promoted him to the Empire, took particular care of the Frontiers, and commanded that the Magister Officiorum (or Scout-Master-General) should every year signifie to the Emperour, how the Soldiery stood, and what care was taken of the Castles and Fences. But when the Affairs of the Empire began visibly to sink, and the Picts and Scots, breaking through the Turf-wall at Bodotria,Blondus. made havock of all these parts; the Roman Legion under Gallio of Ravennas, was sent to their assistance, and repuls’d the Barbarians.Praetentura The fifth Prætentura. But they being recall’d for the defence of Gaul, advis’d the Britains (take it in the very words of Gildas and Bede) to build a Wall cross the Island, between the two Seas, which might secure them against the Incursions of the Enemy; and so they return’d home, in great triumph. But the Islanders building this Wall ** Non tam lapidibus quam cespitibus., not of stone but of turf (as wanting skilful hands to carry on such a great work) it signified nothing, in point of Safety. So Gildas tells us, that being built of turf, not of stone, and that by an unskilful rabble, without any Director, it stood them in no stead. Concerning the place where this Wall was built, Bede goes on thus: Now, they made it between the two arms or bosoms of the Sea, for a great many miles together; that where the Waters did not defend them, the Wall might be a security against the Incursions of the Enemy. (Such a Wall as this, of a vast length, defended Assyria against foreign Invasions, as Marcellinus has told us.Great Wall of China And the † † Seres.Chinese at this day (as we read in Osorius) fence their Valleys and Plains with Walls, to assist them in keeping out the Scythians.) Of which work, i.e. of an exceeding broad and high Wall, the footsteps are very visible at this day. The Wall between Edinborough-Frith and Dunbritton-Frith. It begins almost two miles from the Monastery Abercuruinig to the East, in a place call’d in the language of the Picts Penuahel, but in that of the English Penueltun: and so, running Westward, ends hard by the City Alcluith. But their old Enemies, understanding that the Roman Legion was gone, presently set sail, threw down the bounds, put all to the sword, and (as it were) mow’d them like ripe Corn, and trampl’d them under foot, and over-ran all in their way. Upon this, they send Ambassadours to Rome once more, who in a most mournful address desire assistance; that their miserable Country may not be utterly ruin’d, and the name of a Roman Province (which had so long flourish’d among them) be brought under contempt by the insolence of foreign Nations. A Legion is again sent over, which, coming over in Autumn (when they did not dream of them) slew great numbers of the Enemy, and drove back such as could make their escape, over the arm of the Sea: whereas, before that, they us’d to cross that arm and keep their set times of Invasion and Plunder every year, without any manner of disturbance.

And now the Romans retir’dAbout the year of our Lord 420. to Severus’s Wall; and (as the Notitia has it, which was written about the latter end of Theodosius the younger)Alciatus calls it Theodosius’s Breviary. along the Linea Valli, i.e. all-along the wall, on both sides, there lay in garrison five ¦ ¦ Alæ.
Soldiers garrison’d along the Wall.
wings of Horse, with their Præfects, fifteen Cohorts of Foot with their Tribunes, one * * Numerus.band, and one † Cuneus.squadron. Praefects Alae But of these we have spoken in their proper places; and shall have occasion to speak of them again. Concerning what follow’d, Bede goes on thus. Then the Romans told the Britains once for all, that they would not any more harrass themselves with such toilsome expeditions for their defence, but advis’d them by all means to betake them to their Arms, and to dispute the cause with the enemy; suggesting, that they wanted nothing to be too hard for them, but only to quit that lazy way of living. A wall of stone, the sixth Prætentura. The Romans also (hoping that that might be of consequence to their Allies, whom they were now forc’d to leave) built a strong * * Murum.Wall of Stone from Sea to Sea, directly by those Cities which had been settled there for fear of the enemy (where also Severus had formerly made hisVallum.Wall.) I will likewise set down Gildas’s words, from whom Bede had this. The Romans, at the publick and private expence, joyning to themselves the assistance of the miserable Inhabitants, rais’d a Wall in a direct line from Sea to Sea (not like that other, but according to their usual manner of building) along the Cities that had been contriv’d here and there for fear of the enemy. But to return to Bede. Which Wall, so much talk’d of, and visible at this day, and built at the publick and private expence, by the joint labour of the Romans and Britains, was eight foot broad and twelve high, running in a direct line from east to west; as is plain at this day to any that shall trace it. From which words of Bede, it is evident, that a certain learned man, instead of hitting the mark, put out his own eyes, when he affirm’d with so much zeal and eagerness against Boetius, and the other Scotch writers, that Severus’s Wall was in Scotland. Does not Bede, after he has done with that Vallum at Abercuruing in Scotland, expresly tell us of a wall of stone built in the place of Severus’s turf-wall? and where, I pray, should this stone-wall be, but between Tinmouth and Solway-frith? and was not Severus’s Vallum there too? The remains of a Wall are all along so very visible, that one may follow the track; and in the ¦ ¦ In Vastis.Wastes I my self have seen pieces of it for a long way together standing entire, except the battlements only, which are thrown down.

⌈And yet * * Ant. p.317.Archbishop Usher, notwithstanding all this, enclines rather to the other Opinion, that it was at Grimesdike, and thinks this conjecture supported by Gildas’s saying, that it was built recto tramite; which, (says he) that betwixt Bowness and Tinmouth is not. With the Archbishop agrees our late learned Bishop of Worcester, in his † † Pag.4.historical account of Church-government, &c. And it is certain, that along Grimesdike, are here and there (as hath been observed by the * * Bleau’s Atlas.Gordons,) several ruins of Stone-buildings: nor can we doubt, but there were Forts of stone erected at due distances along that Rampier. But it is also certain, that in most places there appear no manner of remains of a stone-building; whereas a continu’d stone-wall is easily follow’d from Carlisle to New-castle. Hist. Brit. cap.19. As for Ninnius’s story, it is so full of contradictions, that it is not to be regarded: and after all the stress that is laid upon Gildas’s expression, one shall hardly find the same number of miles that the Picts Wall makes, in any great road in England, which goes more (recto tramite) in a streight line, than that does.⌉

I have observ’d the track of it running up the mountains, and down again, in a most surprising manner: where the fields are plain and open, there lies a broad and deep ditch along the outside of it, only, in some places it is now fill’d up; and on the inside a Causeway or Military way, but very often broken and discontinu’d. It had great numbers of Turrets or little Castles a mile one from another, call’d now Castle-steeds;Castle-steeds. and on the inside a sort of fortify’d little Towns, which they call to this day Chesters,Chesters. the foundations whereof, in some places, appear in a square form. These had Turrets between them, wherein the Soldiers were always in readiness to receive the Barbarians, and in which the AreansAreani Exploratores. (whom the same Theodosius, we just now mention’d, remov’d for their treachery) had their stations.spies These Areans were an order of men instituted by the ancients, whose business it was (as Marcellinus tells us) to make excursions into the enemy’s country, and give intelligence of their motions to our Officers. So that the first founders seem to have follow’d the counsel of him who wrote a Book to Theodosius and his sons, concerning the Arts of War. For thus he has it: One of the great interests of the Common-wealth, is the care of the Frontiers, which would be better secur’d by good numbers of castles, built at a mile’s distance from one another, with a firm wall and strong towers: Not at the publick charge, but by the contributions of such as have lands in the neighbour-hood, who are to keep watch and ward in these, and the fields all about; that the quiet of the Provinces (girt as it were round, and circled in) may be preserved without the least disturbance. The Inhabitants tell you, there was a brazen * * Tubulus.
A Trumpet to convey the voice.
Trumpet or Pipe (whereof they now and then find pieces,) so artificially laid in the wall between each castle and tower, that upon the apprehension of danger at any one place, by the sounding of it notice might be given to the next, and then to the third, and so on. Such a wonderful contrivance as this, Xiphilin mentions out of Dio, speaking of the Towers at Constantinople, in the Life of Severus. But now, though the Walls be down, and no such thing as a Trumpet to be met with, yet several hereabouts hold manours and lands of the King in CornageCornage. (as the Lawyers word it,) that is, on condition to give their neighbours notice of the incursion of the enemy by sounding of a horn; which some imagine to be a remain of the old Roman custom. They were also bound to serve in the Scotch wars, upon the King’s summons (as it is express’d in the publick Records;) in their march thither, in the van; at their return, in the rear.

The track of the Wall. But to mark out the track of the Wall somewhat more accurately: it begins at Blatum Bulgium, or Bulness, upon the Irish Sea; so keeps along the side of the Frith of Eden by Burg upon Sands, to Luguvallum or Carlile, where it passes the Ituna or Eden. Thence it runs along with the river Irthing below it, and passes the winding little river of Cambeck, where are the marks of a vast Castle. Afterwards, passing the rivers Irthing and Poltrosse, it enters Northumberland, and through those crowding mountains runs along with the river call’d South-Tine without any interruption (save only at North-Tine, over which it was formerly continu’d by a bridge) to the very German ocean; as I shall shew in the proper place, when I come to Northumberland.

But this Structure, however great and wonderful, was not able to stop the incursions of the enemy; for no sooner had the Romans left Britain, but the Picts and Scots surprize them, make an attempt upon the wall, pull down the Guards with their crooked weapons, break through the fortifications, and make a strange havock of Britain, well-nigh ruin’d before with civil wars and a most grievous famine. But let Gildas a Britain, who liv’d not long after, describe to you the deplorable Calamities of those times: the Romans being drawn home, there descend in great crowds from their * * The highland Scots call their little Ships at this day Caroches.Caroghes, (wherein they were brought over theStitica Vallis in the text, but the Paris edition reads Scytica Vallis, possibly the Scotch Sea.Stitick Vale, about the middle of summer, in a scorching hot season,) a duskish swarm of vermine out of their narrow holes, or a hideous crew of Scots and Picts, somewhat different in manners, but all alike thirsting after blood, &c. Who finding that the old Confederates [the Romans] were march’d home, and refus’d to return any more, put on greater boldness than ever, and possess’d themselves of all the north, and the remote parts of the Kingdom, to the very wall: To withstand this invasion, the towers [along the wall] are defended by a lazy garrison, undisciplin’d, and too cowardly to engage an enemy; being enfeebled with continual sloth and idleness. In the mean while, the naked enemy advance with their hooked weapons, by which the miserable Britains are pull’d down from the tops of the walls and dash’d against the ground. Yet they who were destroy’d, had this advantage in an untimely death, that they escaped those miseries and sufferings, which immediately befel their brethren and children. To be short, having quitted their Cities and the high Wall, they betook themselves to flight, and fell into a more desperate and hopeless dispersion than ever. Still the Enemy gave them chase; still more cruel slaughters overtook them; as Lambs by the bloody Butcher, so were these poor Creatures cut to pieces by their enemies. So that they may justly be compar’d to herds of wild beasts; for these miserable people did not stick to rob one another for supplies of victuals; and so, in-bred dissensions enhanc’d the misery of their foreign sufferings, and brought things to that pass by spoil and robbery, that meat (the support of life) was wanting in the Country, and no comfort of that kind was to be had, but by recourse to hunting.

The prudence of the Romans in contriving the Wall. Thus much is farther observable, That as the wisdom of the Romans did so contrive this Wall, as to have on the inside of it two great rivers (the Tine and Irthing, divided only by a narrow slip of land) which might be as it were another fence; so the cunning Barbarians in their attempts upon it, commonly made choice of that part of the wall between the rivers; that after they had broke thorow, they might have no rivers in their way, but have a clear passage into the heart of the Province; as we will shew by and by in Northumberland. As for the stories of the common people concerning this Wall, I purposely omit them: but one thing there is which I will not keep from the Reader, because I had it confirm’d by persons of very good credit. There is a general perswasion in the neighbourhood, handed down by Tradition, that the Roman garrisons upon the frontiers, set in these parts abundance of Medicinal PlantsMedicinal Plants. for their own use. Whereupon the Scotch Surgeons come hither a Simpling every year in the beginning of Summer; and having by long experience found the virtue of these Plants, they magnifie them very much, and affirm them to be very soveraign. ⌈But, of late years, most diligent search hath been made along the Wall by a curious Botanist; who could never meet with any sort of Plants there, which are not as plentiful in some other part of the Country.⌉

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/camden/william/britannia-gibson-1722/part108.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06