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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
#46
Quote:To my mind it still makes absolutely no sense to retreat to the north or north-west.

A retreat south across the Thames would be a good defensive move, but would leave all of Britain except Kent exposed to the depredations of the natives. And why would Paulinus be short of supplies if he was in contact with the Channel ports? We know that he was previously engaged in a campaign in Wales, presumably from the base at Wroxeter, which would be well supplied with grain, and close to remnant of the 20th legion - his line of communication would surely therefore be north-west up Watling street, not south.

Added to which, a move northwest would keep pressure on the western flank of the Iceni. Boudica's force seems to have included most Iceni men of fighting age, plus a large number of woman and children; Icenia itself would therefore be almost undefended. By moving northwards, Paulinus could threaten the exposed heartland of the Iceni, and force Boudica's force to turn back from the settled areas of the southern coast and march in pursuit. Clever, or skillful, perhaps?

Quote:So we're back to a flying column

Without further evidence, I really think we have to discount any ideas of flying columns. Paulinus, we know from Tacitus, was a slow-moving cunctating beast of a commander, not a celeritating Caesar by any means. I don't see him 'flying' anywhere in a hurry!

Quote:if he goes north he is not retreating but rather returning to his main body of troops, maybe digging in, to an RV with Legio II.

But II Augusta were in the west, so if he was planning to meet them he should surely have moved in that direction...

The movements (or not) of II Augusta are actually an intriguing side issue here. It's commonly assumed, following Webster again I think, that Poenius Postumus killed himself because he'd kept his legion in camp and not moved to assist Paulinus. But Tacitus merely says that Postumus, "conscious that he had cheated his own corps of a share in the honours and had violated the rules of the service by ignoring the orders of his commander, ran his sword through his body" (Annals 14.37). So what was the order that Postumus ignored? If we can imagine that Paulinus was shifting about in a series of tactical 'delays', it's quite feasible that Postumus was indeed on the move with the second, but grew doubtful of his commander's strategy and ignored an order to re-route his march, or perhaps double his pace, to link up with Paulinus. More a fatal difference of opinion than a straightforward refusal of orders, which would surely have led to Postumus' speedy execution before he had time to fall on his sword...

- Nathan
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#47
Quote:Very interesting - I didn't know of the evidence for destruction at Silchester.

And, like a deep-diving whale, it finally surfaces on the Beeb website!

Mike Bishop
You know my method. It is founded upon the observance of trifles

Blogging, tweeting, and mapping Hadrian\'s Wall... because it\'s there
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#48
Quote:And, like a deep-diving whale, it finally surfaces on the Beeb website!

Several months on, I'm actually less convinced by the 'evidence' of destruction at Silchester and other sites west of London. At a time when the vast majority of buildings were of wooden construction, fire would be a constant hazard, and traces of it should perhaps not be viewed as unusual or suspicious!

Besides which, Fulford's examination shows that the fire damage at Silchester was followed by a rebuilding of the city on a different axis. Steve Kaye's theory suggests that these two events, fire and rebuilding, may have happened as a direct consequence of the revolt. It seems to me just as likely that the supposed destruction may have been merely a part of the process of rebuilding the city - fire being the best way of clearing ground of the debris of wooden buildings prior to new construction, or of clearing the area that now lay outside the limits of the realigned plan. It seems perhaps curious that the city architects should take the opportunity of an unforeseen violent conflagration to set about a sudden program of urban alteration - or could there be shades of Nero at Rome, perhaps? Confusedmile:
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#49
Hi

When the revolt in Judea broke out the Romans called upon the local client kings to supply troops. Therefore in this scenario would the Romans have called upon Cartimandua to supply Brigantian auxiliaries? If that was the case, would that have had any baring on where Paulinus would assemble his army?

Graham.
"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream" Edgar Allan Poe.

"Every brush-stroke is torn from my body" The Rebel, Tony Hancock.

"..I sweated in that damn dirty armor....TWENTY YEARS!', Charlton Heston, The Warlord.
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#50
Quote:Therefore in this scenario would the Romans have called upon Cartimandua to supply Brigantian auxiliaries?

I doubt that actually - the Brigantes were far from the (probable) scene of the action, and their loyalties perhaps questionable. Besides, Paulinus had more than enough troops available - four full legions plus auxiliaries. His problem was in concentrating his force where they were needed, which would have been in the south or east somewhere. As it was, the ninth legion detachment moved too fast and were cut off, the second legion moved too slowly, or not at all, and Paulinus was left with the fourteenth and a few extra cohorts, so had to think on his feet...
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#51
Just a few images with questions;

1 this is the "spoon" (1) and spear shaft (3) found in the 1950's on the Church Stowe site at Castle Yard. ref Northamptonshire Archaeology 1986-1987, 21 p31 D. Knight. It looks to me that the spoon could be the dangerous end of the same spear shaft, does it look like any known pilum/spear type?

[attachment=1633]northantsarchaeo.jpg[/attachment]


2 could the reference to the "forest to the rear" be a strategic description of a Forest to the west of the site, as in the forest that is shown over the Thames headwaters on the Tabula Peutingeriana, does anyone know where I can get a better resolution copy? Does anyone know the name of that forest?

[attachment=1634]800px-Part_of_Tabula_Peutingeriana_showing_Britannia.jpg[/attachment]


3 if the forts claimed in the Church Stowe paper were tooled up with Scorpio's with a 400m range, the fields of fire would look like this I think, are there any examples of multiple forts laid out in this manner. I guess this puts the location of the baggage train in clear focus, i.e. the bit that isn't red around Stowe Wood. So a Roman attack over the saddle south of Weedon Hill and the cavalry racing along the ridges to the south and north looks like a good plan of attack.

[attachment=1635]400mfieldoffire.jpg[/attachment]


All speculation of course, ADDICT


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#52
Quote:2 could the reference to the "forest to the rear" be a strategic description of a Forest to the west of the site, as in the forest that is shown over the Thames headwaters on the Tabula Peutingeriana, does anyone know where I can get a better resolution copy? Does anyone know the name of that forest?
[attachment=1634]800px-Part_of_Tabula_Peutingeriana_showing_Britannia.jpg[/attachment]
I'm afraid that part of the TP is complete guesswork, based on the belief that the 12th part went missing. It's not based on any original.
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#53
Now why would anyone do that?
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#54
Quote:It looks to me that the spoon could be the dangerous end of the same spear shaft, does it look like any known pilum/spear type?
Could be. Certainly doesn't look much like a spoon!

Quote:could the reference to the "forest to the rear" be a strategic description of a Forest to the west of the site
I think the 'forest obstacle' is certainly intended as tactical rather than strategic. We probably shouldn't be too eager to go looking for likely forests though - patterns of forestation have changed almost totally in the last two thousand years... :wink:

Quote:if the forts claimed in the Church Stowe paper were tooled up with Scorpio's with a 400m range, the fields of fire would look like this
Hmmm - well, the report only really claims two forts, which are the supposed twin marching camps around Castle Dykes. There could be another fortlet to the westwards, and some possibility of an embankment. Trouble is, Tacitus doesn't actually mention fortifications of this sort, or the use of artillery. Would Paulinus have brought artillery with his relatively small marching column? He didn't expect to engage in siege warfare with the Britons. The use and portability of battlefield artillery in this period should perhaps be investigated further before we start adding it to hypothetical battle plans!

Quote:So a Roman attack over the saddle south of Weedon Hill and the cavalry racing along the ridges to the south and north looks like a good plan of attack.

Yes, looks good. But there's another problem with the idea of field fortifications - Paulinus would have needed to detach large bodies of men to hold such a far-flung line, especially if ballistae were mounted out there too. This would have further reduced the already limited number of troops in his main battle-line. Since the whole point of chosing this ground was presumably so that a small body of men could be effectively concentrated against a larger mass, dispersing his force in this way would seem counterproductive.

Always interesting to revisit this topic, though, nevertheless!

- Nathan
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#55
Quote:I think the 'forest obstacle' is certainly intended as tactical rather than strategic. We probably shouldn't be too eager to go looking for likely forests though - patterns of forestation have changed almost totally in the last two thousand years.

Hmmm - well, the report only really claims two forts, which are the supposed twin marching camps around Castle Dykes. There could be another fortlet to the westwards, and some possibility of an embankment. Trouble is, Tacitus doesn't actually mention fortifications of this sort, or the use of artillery.

Totally agree about the forests, even more so after seeing Roberts deflation of the TP. In the case of the Church Stowe Ridge the whole perimeter north and south has a reasonable stream which could well have been unmanaged alder/willow scrub at the time, and that is really impassable in any meaningful way.

I assumed marching camps of this scale would be an intrinsic component of the campaign with 10,000 troops massing in one location over a series of days or a week. Depending on which translation you read Boudicca's speech pours scorn on the Romans hiding in their camps/behind their embankments (from memory), another case for field fortifications. Paulinus would surely be nuts to do anything other than take the first British charge from behind prepared positions.

The two enclosures referenced are both 2.4ha, what size of force would a site of that scale contain, I had read 1000 infantry or 500 cavalry, any thoughts?

As for artillery, my naive understanding was that a full Legion (XIV) would be carrying 60 Scorpio's as a matter of course, this I had assumed would be augmented by whatever they could purloin from the Twentieth and other sources, so a potential of around 100 units. Is this scenario unlikely?

As for the battlefront, if you have a Legion (XIV) 8 men deep that would be about a 600m battle front, a good fit for the saddle and the valley bottom. Leaving the vexillation of the XXth or their equivalent in number to man the forts, or abandon the uneccessary one to the west whilst the dice is rolled big time in hitting the Brits between their assaults.
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#56
Quote:Boudicca's speech pours scorn on the Romans hiding in their camps/behind their embankments (from memory), another case for field fortifications. Paulinus would surely be nuts to do anything other than take the first British charge from behind prepared positions.
I've always read this comment as referring to Roman (auxiliary) forts - there's a note in Agricola that Boudica's forces bypassed or avoided a number of these during their rampages. Certainly Paulinus would have entenched his men in a camp - but Roman camps were not built as defensive fortresses, but rather to shelter a marching force from surprise night attacks. Once the enemy took the field, the force would leave the camp and take their position in the open. Which is what Paulinus seems to have done.

Quote:The two enclosures referenced are both 2.4ha, what size of force would a site of that scale contain, I had read 1000 infantry or 500 cavalry, any thoughts?
2.4 hectares gives about 5 acres for each camp. A full legion would have required an enclosure three times that size. Since Paulinus had a legion and a half with him, plus auxiliaries, you'd need to find another and much larger camp (or camps) in the vicinity. If these two earthworks are indeed Roman they would appear to be smaller auxiliary camps or forts.

Quote:my naive understanding was that a full Legion (XIV) would be carrying 60 Scorpio's as a matter of course, this I had assumed would be augmented by whatever they could purloin from the Twentieth and other sources, so a potential of around 100 units.
You're quite right - it is the accepted theory that a legion carried artillery with it. The numbers, though, are from Vegetius, with all attendant problems about date. Tacitus describes artillery in use at Cremona in 69, and ballistae are shown on Trajan's Column - but in these cases they were used against formations of disciplined troops and fortifications respectively. We could assume that Paulinus had artillery with him, but since no account of the battle mentions it in use it might be safer not to build it into prospective battle plans.

There are other problems: the artillery was attached to the legions, and therefore served by the legionaries. Every scorpion would have needed a couple of men to handle it, and this depletes the legion force, even if auxiliaries are used to support them.

Arrian describes artillery being used on the flanks of a formation, but your plan places the artillery so far from the flanks that any attack against the artillery positions themselves could not be supported by the main legion force.

I would think that battlefield artillery was generally useful in breaking up enemy formations. The British, however, had no such formation to break. Although I suppose the ballistarii could have aimed at the chariots...
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#57
Radio documentary, up for the next 7 days;
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00krfns
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#58
Quote:Radio documentary, up for the next 7 days
Hmmm, don't know about you, but I started to fidget after the first ten minutes; by the halfway point, I was watching the trailer for the new Batman movie with the sound turned down. :roll:
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#59
Quote:I started to fidget after the first ten minutes
Luckily I had several days of RAT posts to catch up on, so managed to fidget on through the whole thing. No mention of Mancetter, interestingly - they go for Church Stowe instead. Could be a change of sympathy here - away from academic professional historians (who, I'm guessing, originally nominated Mancetter) and towards 'informed amateurs' - or perhaps everyone's just bored of Mancetter now?
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#60
I liked the imaginative use of mediums (media?). Looks like geophysics is passé, lidar old-hat, and the paranormal is the new black (magic). That being said, I have dug with archaeologists who dowsed and at least one building at a Roman fort I know of was found by its excavator by dowsing (although this is not mentioned in the report). Luckily, I detected a tongue very firmly in cheek during the whole rancid mess that was that episode of what is, essentially, a comedy programme. The News Quiz pantomime was much more fun...

Mike Bishop
You know my method. It is founded upon the observance of trifles

Blogging, tweeting, and mapping Hadrian\'s Wall... because it\'s there
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