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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Well, that is a steep slope alright! I'm still not really convinced by the layout, but I'll wait to see what others have to say.

Just one thing though - why have you put Cunetio itself up on top of the hill? I think the Roman town was down near the river, in the area now called Black Field (that's where the OS marks it anyway). The area marked on your plan, around Forest hill farm, did have Roman remains - tessalated flooring etc - but this was probably from a large building of some sort within the old hilltop earthworks. Or so I believe anyway...
Nathan Ross
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I've re-read your posts Deryk and I can't find out whether you are arguing the case for Cunetio based upon the ground as it would have been in 61AD (or 60AD in your argument) or from what is established when Cunetio is a town set on a busy cross roads - but that is not until the mid Second Century. Previous occupation is reserved to the fort on the hill you have mentioned previously.

The fact that Avebury is so close would not have mattered to the Roman force at all and is clearly of more significance to the combined local tribes so I am not quite sure why it has any significance with regard to the battle site.

I believe the road infrastructure led to the establishment of Cunetio not the other way round and again I am not sure if the roads would have been established to such a degree twenty years after gaining a first foot hold in Britain to allow for a rapid withdrawl of such a large Roman force.

I also have to agree with Nathan; the Kennet is a sizeable river which must surely have been present in the First Century. Would it's presence in the middle of the battle field not have been mentioned by the sources? And would not both forces see it as a hazard to manoeuvre particularly for cavalry? The river's presence there at all - and being so far west - makes me doubt your otherwise well argued case for Cunetio.
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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Hi Nathan / Primus

I was referring to the AD60 / AD61 turn of events and at that time according to the archeology there was a form of Roman Buildings in "Upper Cunetio".

Lower Cunetio (Mildenhall may have come later or have been around the same time but the huge fort of Cunetio built in Black Field was much later.

(Please see attached Diagram by the archeologist Richard Colt Hoare from around 1800)

[attachment=4818]Cunetio12.jpg[/attachment]

I wasn't making a case for the Romans being concerned with Avebury but for the Brythons it possibly was still a religous site of some significance and they would have been very familiar with the area.

As far as the road system is concerned if Watling Street was built and the road to Silchester was extablished, why wouldn't there be the roads that we know were built connecting the ports to the militarised zone or from Silchester to Cirencesteer or Sea Mills via Bath to Speen, after all there had been 17 years of occupation at this time.

By AD60 the militarised zone was past the Fosse Way anchored by Exeter, Gloucester, Usk and Wroxeter Legionary bases and roads would have been built to facilitate troop movement.

If we use the argument that there weren't roads in the West, the troops from Exeter also didn't have roads - so they wouldn't have been able to join with Seutonius Paulinus either.

Regarding the Kennet. Someone recently on this thread proposed that the river may have been blocked further upstream to deny the Brythons water and in that case it would have been easy to cross as it would have been dry.

There is also the point that the battle would have been fought in late summer (Dio mentions the end of the fighting season) so as the Kennet relies on the water from the local Bournes (streams) it is not unusual for this river to be quite low at that time of the year.

There are many crossing points, such as at Ramsbury, Axford, Stitchcombe and Marlborough today and no doubt there were then as well.

You are right however the Kennet isn't mentioned in the texts - but then again neither are many other factors such as an approximate indicator of where the site is based, which you would have thought would have been mentioned by the sources :wink:


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Deryk
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Hope these pitures are better

[attachment=4819]UPPERANDLOWERCUNETIO.pdf[/attachment]

[attachment]UPPER AND LOWER CUNETIO.doc[/attachment]


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.pdf   UPPERANDLOWERCUNETIO.pdf (Size: 204.9 KB / Downloads: 1)
Deryk
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I wasn't making a case for the Romans being concerned with Avebury but for the Brythons it possibly was still a religous site of some significance and they would have been very familiar with the area.

wasn't there a ref somewhere to Palinus bringing the Brits to battle by "dispoiling their holy places" sorry I have trawled by refs but cannot see it. So Avebury could be the Holy Place or if the site is elsewhere we have new holy places to identify.
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[attachment=4820]Cunetio14.jpg[/attachment]


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Deryk
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Quote:
You are right however the Kennet isn't mentioned in the texts - but then again neither are many other factors such as an approximate indicator of where the site is based, which you would have thought would have been mentioned by the sources :wink:

The other main geographical features are mentioned however, which is what all this fascinating debate is centred on, is it not?
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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Thanks for all this Deryk, I'm guessing it can feel like being at the wrong end of a shooting gallery sometimes with this game. Here's my pot-shot;

with the Romans arrayed at the foot of the principal slope how does that square with the following statement;

"Chapter 37.

The engagement began. The Roman legion presented a close embodied line. The narrow defile gave them the shelter of a rampart. "

The translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (Works of Tacitus, 1794)

I'd always read this as being on top of the feature rather than in front of it, but I think being in front is the only way to meet Steve's slope angle criteria.
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Quote:I was referring to the AD60 / AD61 turn of events and at that time according to the archeology there was a form of Roman Buildings in "Upper Cunetio"... (Please see attached Diagram by the archeologist Richard Colt Hoare from around 1800)
Those 18th/19th century guys certainly made attractive maps! Subsequent, and more modern, investigations around 'Upper Cunetio' are summarised here:

Forest Hill Farm Roman Site

The general view seems to be that it was 'clearly the site of a substantial Roman building though not necessarily a villa' - but no idea of date. I'd be surprised if it was as early as middle first century, although the earthwork is clearly (?) much earlier. Anyway, we can't assume that either the Roman site here or the town on the lower ground would have been there at the time of Boudica.

Quote:wasn't there a ref somewhere to Palinus bringing the Brits to battle by "dispoiling their holy places"
No, I don't think so. The idea was suggested, I think, to try and justify some other proposed site (Arbury Banks?), with the vague idea that after destroying the Druidic groves on Mona Paulinus might have decided to do similar elsewhere. I don't think it's likely - aside from Mona, we have little evidence for Romans deliberately destroying holy sites, and much evidence for their adoption of native British religious places (Bath springs to mind). They wouldn't have wanted to tempt the wrath of the genius loci, I suspect. Plus they had too much else to do at the time!

I don't think there's any evidence for Avebury or other neolithic sites still being in use in the iron age anyway. Even if the local people had some veneration for the spot, it's unlikely that its fame would have spread as far as Icenia.
Nathan Ross
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Hi John

Interpretation is everything and I have tried to stick the sources and have even taken on board the AD61 option which is feasible but in my opinion would be later in the season than proposed.

What you state is my interpretation given this particular site. The fascinating thing here is that although the Roman Army in this disposition is perfectly visible they are vitually untouchable.
Deryk
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Hi Nathan

Sadly we can't say either way although it would be perfectly feasible to have a station here and Colt Hoare was certainly very positive that Upper Cunetio was the original station for the Roman road.

This is obviously an important crossroads and strategic site even for the previous Brythonic owners and in my opinion would have housed a small fort / station.

So I am afraid we will have to differ - there is no reason to think that there was not a station here in Boudica's time.

Even if there was no station here that does not detract from the position which was occupied by the iron age entrenchments and where the Romans could have occupied and made their own.

Regarding Avebury, I think that Nathan has a point but also I don't think that you can take the Druidic influence out of the equation altogether and I feel that the Iceni would have been fully aware of other tribes and geography.
Deryk
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If any one is interested:

I have added some graphics so that you can appreciate the roman roads (in red), the location of Avebury in connection to Cunetio as well as the Ridgeway

[attachment=4837]Cunetio15.jpg[/attachment]

[attachment=4838]Cunet1o16.jpg[/attachment]

[attachment=4839]Cunetio17.jpg[/attachment]


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Deryk
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Hi Moi,
Quote: I believe the road infrastructure led to the establishment of Cunetio not the other way round and again I am not sure if the roads would have been established to such a degree twenty years after gaining a first foot hold in Britain to allow for a rapid withdrawl of such a large Roman force.
I cannot but agree about the probable state of the Roman road system, but when we are discussing the use of the roads by the Roman forces, the impact would have been the same. We can’t vouch for the exact building date for any of the Roman roads in Britain I presume, but if Paulinus used the road to travel from wales to Londinium, it would be feasible for the rod from Londinium to bath, and the Mildenhall-Cirencester extension, to have been in place too, at least in some form.
Anyway, the Ridgweay is but a few miles to the North and that one was certainly in place.
Perhaps I’ve read over it in this lengthy discussion, but due west of Upper Cunetio lies quite a large hill fort (or rather the earthworks of the remains). I believe the dating is pre-Roman Iron Age, and the position could well betray a British settlement that was the ancestor of later Romano-British Cunetio, like so many hillforts. The hill is quite steep, overlooking Marlborough today. Ive cycled there a few times.
A nice picture taken from the earthworks above the river Kennet looking North:
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2800775

Quote: I also have to agree with Nathan; the Kennet is a sizeable river which must surely have been present in the First Century. Would it's presence in the middle of the battle field not have been mentioned by the sources? And would not both forces see it as a hazard to manoeuvre particularly for cavalry? The river's presence there at all - and being so far west - makes me doubt your otherwise well argued case for Cunetio.
The river is not very large in this area. It originates but about 10 kms northwest, and like so many rivers in the Marlborough Downs its mostly a ‘winterbourne’. Meaning that at times it can be quite low. Today there are spots in the area where you can wade through it.
If you need steep slopes, they are here too: the Kennet valley just north of the hillfort is the spot where the river ‘breaks’ through the hills (also the gap followed by the (later?) Roman road) is very narrow and quite steep on either flank. It would have been great for the British if the had managed to trap the Romans while travelling through that gap.
The river just west of that gap: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/337331
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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Hi Nathan

As it is only polite as you have been kind enough to comment on the Cunetio site that I should comment on the Dunstable site.

Like you I will not comment on the host moving north - it is the site that matters....

I have to admit it certainly has its merits but I have always had a problem with a site where a small Roman Army of around 10,000 men, bursts out of a position into a host of at least 100,000 and would not become enveloped by the host in a "plain" scenario.

It is unlikely that the Brythons would not have had scouts in front of the main host so they would have picked up the fact that the Romans were there not just blocking the valley but also with the cavalry on the hills.

Possibly we need to understand the makeup of the army that Seutonius Paulinus had at this time.

I will make a stab of it but it is only a guess, hopefully someone else has done the research and has a better idea.

Suetonius had the fourteenth legion with the veterans of the twentieth, and auxiliaries from the neighbourhood, to the number of about ten thousand armed men, when he prepared to break off delay and fight a battle.

Probably the Fourteenth made up of its infantry (4,500), perhaps its auxilliaries (3,000 Batavians), Veterans of the Twentieth (1500)local auxilliaries as mentioned (500), Cavalry (1,000) a total of 10,500 men

The "valley" at Dunstable is about 1100 yards wide. The infantry are allegedly in close formation which gives each man about a 3 foot width. The ranks would have been 8 deep to enable the cuneus formation to be performed.

This would mean that all the infantry including most of the auxilliaries would have been in the valley with the cavalry on the hills.

If the Romans charged the Brythons there are no topographical feature that forces the Brythons to stay together or forces them back to the wagons that you state are 2 kilometres away so they can just expand sideways because the terrain is comparatively gentle at this point and they could absorb the Romans because if there are only 500 cavalry on each wing which would not be enough to contain the host.

Tacitus mentions that the Wagons were drawn up at the edge of a plain. There doesn't appear to be a plain and certainly no edge.

My other concern is that although there might have been woods behind the Romans there is also a road going through it. A few of kilometres behind the Roman Army is Icknield Way - the road to the heart of the Iceni.

The Ninth had already been ambushed possibly at the junction of Icknield Way and the road from Godmanchester to Colchester so it is quite possible that the Iceni already had this covered and would have known the area quite well.

It seems a risky strategy for Seutonius Paulinus to take because he would have been more than aware of the tribal trackways (many which were the basis of the Roman System) and he would have left himself exposed.

Finally although there is a valley the position itself can be outflanked on the right hand side as the slope is reasonably gentle.

Kind Regards - Deryk
Deryk
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Quote:Regarding Avebury...I don't think that you can take the Druidic influence out of the equation altogether
I can't help thinking that Avebury is a bit of a red herring in this scenario. We have to consider that the neolithic stones were erected around 2561 years before Boudica's revolt - she is actually closer in time to us (a mere 1951 years) than to the builders of Avebury! We don't know much about iron age Druidic religion in Britain, but it seems to have involved sacred groves and springs rather than standing stones, which may have been relics of a much older culture.

Quote:As it is only polite as you have been kind enough to comment on the Cunetio site that I should comment on the Dunstable site.
Thanks!

Quote:I have always had a problem with a site where a small Roman Army of around 10,000 men, bursts out of a position into a host of at least 100,000
But that is more or less what Tacitus describes - although interpretations will vary... Confusedmile:

Quote:Suetonius had... the Fourteenth made up of its infantry (4,500), perhaps its auxilliaries (3,000 Batavians), Veterans of the Twentieth (1500)local auxilliaries as mentioned (500), Cavalry (1,000) a total of 10,500 men.
That seems about right - ten thousand is the figure T gives, with probably around five or six thousand of them legionaries. I don't know if there's any specific mention of Batavians being present though, just 'auxiliaries'. The troops on the flanks are referred to as 'lightly armed', whatever that means...

Quote:If the Romans charged the Brythons there are no topographical feature that forces the Brythons to stay together or forces them back to the wagons that you state are 2 kilometres away so they can just expand sideways because the terrain is comparatively gentle at this point and they could absorb the Romans because if there are only 500 cavalry on each wing which would not be enough to contain the host.
Possibly - I envisaged that the Roman line in the valley would present a target for a condensed frontal attack. Once the attack is broken and the wedge moves forward, the British could indeed flee in all directions, but I would think that the threat of cavalry on the hills to either side would keep them to the lower ground (however many cavalry there actually were - to a fleeing Briton on foot the prospect of cavalry attacking from the hills would be terrifying, I would think).

Besides which, the families of the Britons were in the wagons: they would hardly run off and leave them. Reading slightly beyond what Tacitus actually says, I don't think it's entirely necessary for the wagons to completely close all escape routes: the Britons' desire to rescue or defend their families would make the wagon camp the first place they'd flee to. The constriction of the road at this point would make it impossible for them to turn the wagons or extricate themselves before the Romans caught up with them...

Quote:Tacitus mentions that the Wagons were drawn up at the edge of a plain. There doesn't appear to be a plain and certainly no edge.
Well, as I've said before it's somewhat in the eye of the beholder - I see what appears to be an expanse of open ground, edged by hills - a plain, in other words! The southern end of the plain, where the hills close in, would be the edge...

But this is where we return to strategic considerations. There may well be better-looking plains and defiles in Britain, but the shape of the campaign as I see it places Paulinus in this area or somewhere like it. Better, I think, to look at the terrain he would have had available to him and work out what might fit, than to go off looking for the best-looking terrain (using, of course, all sorts of modern technology that he wouldn't have had!). Differences of opinion here, I know :wink:

Quote:A few of kilometres behind the Roman Army is Icknield Way - the road to the heart of the Iceni... The Ninth had already been ambushed possibly at the junction of Icknield Way and the road from Godmanchester to Colchester...
We don't actually know where the ninth were ambushed - it could have been closer to Colchester. This is one of the big unknown variables. But one of my reasons for chosing this northern direction is the importance of holding the line of Watling Street, and the junction of Iknield is a critical point. Withdraw much beyond it and the Iceni have a clear route home...

Quote:Finally although there is a valley the position itself can be outflanked on the right hand side as the slope is reasonably gentle.
True, but as I've again said before there aren't that many positions that can't be outflanked by a truly determined enemy. I believe that Paulinus may have trusted to the Britons' overwhelming numbers, and the apparent small size of his own force, to imbue his enemy with a lack of tactical caution... Plus, again, the nature of the British force - a fractious tribal band travelling with families - may have made them less inclined to engage in lengthy uphill flanking moves away from their wagons, especially when there was a disciplined Roman force in the vicinity.

However, as we've said before, any prospective site is going to have its pros and cons. Most of my liking for Dunstable is due to its position, which seems to me to suit all the strategic considerations, besides presenting a topography that (with not too much lateral thinking!) may well fit Tacitus' description...
Nathan Ross
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