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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
"When a huge number of man hours have been spent trying to find any evidence at all of a battle and non has been found, then I think I'm entitled to say they are rubbish."

The only sites on the list that have had any spades put in the ground are Mancetter and Dunstable (and Dunstable was quite a brief recce as I understand it). I don't think any of the others have had any more than a bit of photo time so not really a huge number of man hours. But you are indeed entitled to your views. Go on tell us your site...... you know you want to really.....
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(11-25-2017, 11:46 PM)John1 Wrote: "When a huge number of man hours have been spent trying to find any evidence at all of a battle and non has been found, then I think I'm entitled to say they are rubbish."

The only sites on the list that have had any spades put in the ground are Mancetter and Dunstable (and Dunstable was quite a brief recce as I understand it). I don't think any of the others have had any more than a bit of photo time so not really a huge number of man hours. But you are indeed entitled to your views. Go on tell us your site...... you know you want to really.....

John, before I can present the argument for the site of Boudica's battle I first have to lay the ground work explaining the background to the tools and analysis I used. I'm currently working on that - but it's taking time. Also, I've learnt the hard way that the easy bit is coming up with an idea, the difficult bit is dotting the i's and crossing the t's and putting together a cast iron argument.

Unfortunately the only way to prove it was the site, would be to look for the characteristic archaeological signature you'd expect to get at a battle like this. Which again requires a lot of time and effort.

So ... basically going forward ... involves a lot of time and effort. So ... if someone could please find the site before I start wasting a lot of time and effort on what will almost certainly be a waste of time ... I would be extremely grateful.

Or to use a Roman analogy ... you don't don't win a battle without first building the {temporary} road to the battle.
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(11-25-2017, 11:36 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: with absolutely no evidence being found.

Depends what sort of 'evidence' you want. If you're after Boudica's chariot you might be disappointed!

Absolutely no evidence has been found at the site of the battle of Cannae. Finding actual evidence at any ancient battle site in a settled area is incredibly rare.

In the case of Tring (Newground Road) I did suggest some plausible evidence from the site: weapon and armour fragments, a Roman helmet, and rumoured finds of arrow heads and slingshot. Further investigation may well turn up more, but (like most of us here) I lack the time and capabilities to look for it.


(11-26-2017, 12:20 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: the only way to prove it was the site, would be to look for the characteristic archaeological signature you'd expect to get at a battle like this.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. What sort of 'signature' would you be looking for? How many other ancient battle sites have this signature? How would this 'prove' it was the correct site?


(11-25-2017, 11:46 PM)John1 Wrote: The only sites on the list that have had any spades put in the ground are Mancetter and Dunstable (and Dunstable was quite a brief recce as I understand it).

No spades at Dunstable - just a brief metal-detector foray around the margins of the proposed area (the centre is occupied by school playing fields, and the council refused permission to survey).

Nothing much found - except a few later bits and pieces, and a report of vast number of small clay balls on the hill slopes, which got everyone excited for a bit as we thought they might be fired slingshot, similar to an example found near Thetford - but apparently they're too light...
Nathan Ross
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(11-25-2017, 11:36 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote:
(11-25-2017, 08:11 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(11-25-2017, 07:42 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: I visited what I think is a better candidate... (which is not to say it is a good candidate, only that the rest are rubbish).

Dear Mons Graupius,

I particularly admired your analysis in your search for the MG site, which lead me to read 'Romans In Moray' (by Ian McKeiller, Moray New Horizons 2005 ISBN 0-9551137-0-9).


My point is that, for MG, you had a preferred site, or at least narrowed the preferences down, without having the benefit of a high degree of 'evidence', so why can you not do the same for this battle?

From your previous work, I am sure you are not one of those who fails to disclose their assessment, then, when it is found, if we are not all dead, declares ''That's what I always thought''. So I agree with John, come on, please out it (or them!).

''Hugh amount of time'' might refer to the number of posts on this forum and other pieces of research, rather than groundwork.
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(11-26-2017, 08:58 AM)David Scothorn Wrote:
(11-25-2017, 11:36 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote:
(11-25-2017, 08:11 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(11-25-2017, 07:42 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: I visited what I think is a better candidate... (which is not to say it is a good candidate, only that the rest are rubbish).

Dear Mons Graupius,

I particularly admired your analysis in your search for the MG site, which lead me to read 'Romans In Moray' (by Ian McKeiller, Moray New Horizons 2005 ISBN 0-9551137-0-9).


My point is that, for MG, you had a preferred site, or at least narrowed the preferences down, without having the benefit of a high degree of 'evidence', so why can you not do the same for this battle?

From your previous work, I am sure you are not one of those who fails to disclose their assessment, then, when it is found, if we are not all dead, declares ''That's what I always thought''. So I agree with John, come on, please out it (or them!).

''Hugh amount of time'' might refer to the number of posts on this forum and other pieces of research, rather than groundwork.

Unfortunately, the subject of Mons Graupius has been plagued by generations of academics twisting and turning the texts to suit whatever site they wanted the texts to support with the result that each and every one of them has in some way implied that "Tacitus cannot be trusted" and that's created the entirely unsupportable belief that he made up whole sections of his account. As a result, I've had to spend an inordinate amount of time finding a way to verify (or not) his account. And that in its turn has led to an extremely interesting aspect of Iron-age British life.

Also, (and more boring) there's been largely bogus assertions about Roman logistics and in other areas the basic tools and techniques that I require to understand the campaign are missing and I've had to do very basic groundwork.

Another huge issue is that in Scotland most of ancient ethnicity and linguistics is a load of bullshit. But unfortunately, whilst I now understand the general situation in England and have the evidence to back it up - all I know for sure in Scotland is that the real truth lies hidden under several hundred years of total fabrication. Indeed, the whole subject of ethnicity in Scotland it's all such a cauldron of hate-filled nationalism that ... you either bypass the subject entirely or take the bull by the horns and kick it in the groin.

The key reasons why I seem to be thinking differently are because I have developed a (slightly) better understanding of how the Roman army moved about the landscape, the ethnic differences & something of their character in England.

Thus, whilst it would be pretty easy to say "I think it's such and such a site" ... that would inevitably require me to explain my reasoning which would then require me to go into a detailed explanation of those other subjects which I'm not yet in a position to do.
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(11-26-2017, 01:02 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: whilst it would be pretty easy to say "I think it's such and such a site" ... that would inevitably require me to explain my reasoning which would then require me to go into a detailed explanation of those other subjects

Many of the regular contributors to this thread have been discussing aspects of the battle and the campaign, together with detailed debate about Roman military movements and logistics, strategy, battlefield archaeology, interpretations of the texts and chronology for over seven years now.

Perhaps you don't need to explain quite so much? Most of us have explained our own reasoning for the sites we've put forward - identify yours and we can debate it!
Nathan Ross
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"No spades at Dunstable - just a brief metal-detector foray around the margins"

I really do take my hat off to those guys, to detect and then;

a) decline to dig to find what caused the signal or,
b) dig the signal with a the metal detector itself (I have always found them both too blunt and expensive for the task)

is really a commitment beyond all reasonable expectation,... Tongue
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The Dunstable experience seems an enigma to me.
What's the story behind John 1's last post about not digging a possible find?

Unless it was a case of the cost of returning the land to it's existing condition after recovering any finds, why would the Council refuse permission to survey?
 Involvement in the activity itself, and especially any resulting finds, would have been of great educational and publicity value to the school itself and local community and just the sort of opportunity many schools would have given their eye teeth for.
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(11-27-2017, 07:33 AM)John1 Wrote: a) decline to dig to find what caused the signal or,

Ha, you've got me there!

OK, I assume they used something to dig for whatever small bits they located (thier fingers, perhaps?)

What I meant was that there hadn't been any larger scale digs over anything like a wide area; the area in question would have to have been at the centre of the site rather than around the margins, and that was out of bounds...


(11-27-2017, 09:04 AM)David Scothorn Wrote: why would the Council refuse permission to survey?

I think it's quite a common problem. The site itself (Manshead) is covered in school playing fields, and presumably the council didn't like the idea of unofficial groups, which would have needed supervision, wandering about with detectors and potentially digging small holes all over the place!

This was back in 2013, incidentally, so I don't recall all the details, but the survey group (the Watling Street Society) were quite methodical and professional in their approach, and had links with local archaeological societies I think - although not with the council, apparently. They later shifted their search to the Windridge site near St Albans, I believe.

However, I don't think the lack of finds from Dunstable (or elsewhere) rules these sites out. As I say, archaeological evidence of ancient battles is very rare. The finds from Tring (Newground) would not have been located without major excavation - of a canal and of a later metal-working site. The illegal detector finds rumoured from the line of Newground Road itself might suggest that there's more to be found there though.
Nathan Ross
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Meanwhile... I've been thinking a bit more about marching camps.

If we assume that Paulinus was following (what we assume to be) usual Roman military doctrine - and he had the time to do so , as he wasn't in a rush to prepare his position - then he would have built a marching camp for his whole force of c.10,000 men (about 15 hectares, or 150,000 square metres, I reckon) somewhere to the rear of his proposed front line.

But how far away from the front line would this camp have been?

It's difficult to determine as, as far as I know, the only certain camps in relation to Roman conflict sites relate to sieges (Masada and Alesia) rather than field battles.

After Cerialis's defeat, the general and his cavalry force managed to shelter within their camp (or perhaps a nearby fort, but I'm guessing the camp would have been a more convenient fortification!). So it must have been fairly close to the action - but not too close, or the infantry too might have been able to fall back there. 

Tacitus's description of Mons Graupius has the legionary force drawn up as a reserve 'in front of the ramparts' - although how literally we should take this I don't know. But presumably they could see the battle, and would be close enough to move up in support of the auxiliaries when required.

Kenneth St Joseph's proposed site for Graupius has the camp at Durno between 1.8 and 3 miles from the scene of the fighting, on an oblique line. This would seem to me the maximum feasible distance for a camp intended to house the troops the night before the battle and allow them to deploy in good time, and to act as a refuge should they need it. Closer - between 0.5 and 1 mile - might have been a safer distance, still allowing room for redeployment behind the front line.

The camp would also, of course, be built close to a water supply, although some sources suggest the use of springs and wells in preference to flowing water. It would ideally face or 'address' the battle site to some degree, to allow for easy deployment, although the exact layout may have been determined more by the lie of the land.

So - where might these camps be in relation to our various proposed battle sites?

The site at Dunstable (Manshead) is a full 4 miles down Watling Street from the Roman settlement site at Tilsworth (the late Barry Horne's suggested location for Roman Durocobrivis), where there are traces of superimposed Roman trenches, either military or civilian. But the centre of modern Dunstable is only 1.6 miles from the position, again on Watling, and here again there are Roman ditches dating from the 1st century aligned with the road - again, though, they may well be of civilian origin.

Moving to the Tring (Newground Road) site, the saddle between the Bulbourne and Thame river basins is directly north of the proposed position; Tring station (listed as a possible camp location by Steve Kaye, I think) is less than a mile away (1km), and the site we were discussing some time back is 1.7 miles north-west. No traces of ditches etc as far as I know, although nobody's seriously looked for them either!

What about the other sites we've discussed?
Nathan Ross
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"then he would have built a marching camp for his whole force of c.10,000 men (about 15 hectares, or 150,000 square metres, I reckon) somewhere to the rear of his proposed front line."

SAYS YOU!!!!   Angry Angry Angry

he "might have", he "might have wanted to" but you cannot state he "would have"as a certainty.
The camp/camps layout disposition and size all would be dependent on the terrain so you CANNOT deduce the terrain from an action that you cannot say with any confidence happened. It is far more reasonable to deduce the forts from the terrain, you're going to be doing marching rate maths if we're not careful.

 The military leaders that had any chance had to be creative about the use of terrain and dispositions within it. Applying strategic dogma is fatal. When facing an unprecedented situation, unprecedented solutions are required......

"What's the story behind John 1's last post about not digging a possible find?" 
Just taking the opportunity to heap further ridicule on "Mr Look At the Size of Mine" it's been going on for years but there are many months of post silence to catch up on...... want some?
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(11-27-2017, 04:48 PM)John1 Wrote: Applying strategic dogma is fatal. When facing an unprecedented situation, unprecedented solutions are required......

Although Paulinus was a rather conservative commander, if we believe Tacitus, and not inclined to take risks. Plus he had plenty of time to prepare himself.

I'd say needlessly splitting his force up and putting them in several different camps would have been both unorthodox and highly risky.

Therefore, unless we have any evidence to suggest he did this, or even a good suggestion as to why he might have done it (which we don't), I'm afraid we have to rule it out of consideration. Along, of course, with his notorious 'cavalry dash'... (although plenty of people still seem to accept that one without criticism!)
Nathan Ross
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I guess we will just have to differ still/again. Commanders choose their terrain to fight on, not to camp on..... would be nice to have both but you don't compromise your chosen battle terrain and "ramparts" for the sake of a compliant camp ground. From my point of view a 15ha fort in close proximity to terrain that might be described as a rampart is going to be pretty difficult to loose for 2000 years and dodge the eagle eyes of the threads contributors....
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(11-27-2017, 08:56 PM)John1 Wrote: Commanders choose their terrain to fight on, not to camp on..... in close proximity to terrain that might be described as a rampart

Argh, not the 'rampart' again! For the thousandth time, there was no 'rampart' - it's a mistranslation! [Image: bug.png]

As I've said before: angustias loci pro munimento retinens means 'kept to the narrowness of the place as a defence'.

But Paulinus isn't camping his troops in the defile - and the sort of terrain we're looking at could hardly be called mountainous - far less so than Scotland, where the Romans built plenty of very big camps. So there's plenty of flat ground for Paulinus to camp his men, all together in one defensive enclosure, not in several little camps that would be easy to surround and/or cut off from each other.

I know you keep bringing up this idea because you want the small earthwork enclosures around Church Stowe to be Roman camps. They might be Roman something (perhaps), but if Paulinus was in that area he would have camped his force over the western side of the ridge, in a big fortification close to the stream. That could be about a mile or less from his battle line, which would be okay.
Nathan Ross
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so it's narrow..... how narrow does it have to be to contain a 15ha camp, 400m on each side? then the same again to give you some approach space......

"he would have camped his force over the eastern side of the ridge"   you mean in the valley?  or in front of the valley? all those places that would be a really bad idea when you could be on an impregnable ridge top... how very dare you !!

here's some ramp-art for you, they smoke stuff there too..... xxx

   
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