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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
I was going to suggest that you hum this while you think it over, but perhaps it's not necessary...


Quote:still puts impact point spot on my wagon location between Weedon Hill and Stowe Wood.

Don't know about the wagon location here. It would seem more obvious to have the British observers right back on the line of Watling Street, more or less - otherwise they'd be down in the valley itself looking up, rather than at the margins of anything... Not sure how much they could see from back there though!
Nathan Ross
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perfect site anthem, will have it on next time I'm trawling the mud up there :grin:
not too fussed about the real wagons but that point is a very significant topographic bottle neck, so happy with either interpretation until we find them.

I just think you need to give up those entrenchments and move down into the valley a bit...
happy to do so if you'll let me keep them as a billet at least.
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Quote:absolutely not, CS is an attack along the defile
Sorry for the misunderstanding.


Quote:to the Romans who "lie poorly hid behind their entrenchments" - Tacitus "The narrow defile gave them the shelter of a rampart." _Tacitus....so they were on the ridge behind entrenchments
God preserve me from these mistranslations! Are these supposed to be the same passage? Where does this stuff come from? No wonder we get in a muddle.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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a very recent one;
The translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (Works of Tacitus, 1794) Wink
however entrenchments and ramparts don't matter now that Nathan has resolved the entire issue without recourse to either - an elegant solution all round
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Quote:I would assume that he principally took Roman citizens with him. Loss of citizen lives, especially after the fall of Colchester, would blacken his reputation much more than the loss of a flimsy little trading settlement or two...
I'm not sure about the "flimsy little trading settlement" but I certainly agree with you about the citizens.


Quote:Actually, if P was after reinforcements, surely finding a safe central location and staying there waiting for them to come to him would be preferable to heading off across the map looking for them? We've already discussed the difficulties of long-distance coordination...
I'm not suggesting that Paulinus was wandering about, hoping to bump into his reinforcements one day. He would have stipulated a rendezvous where everyone was to assemble. There are a few possibilities. He might not have reached it himself before being forced to give battle; he might have had one or more places in mind but kept being forced further and further on by the advancing rebels; or (and I suspect that Deryk might argue this for his site at Cunetio, given what he says of its communications) he had arrived at the rendezvous but the rebels kept on coming, so that what he had intended to be an assembly point became a battle ground. On co-ordination, I imagine that there would be a constant stream of dispatch riders passing to and fro, so he had a pretty good idea where his reinforcements were and how likely it was that they would arrive in time to support him.


Just to throw a further spanner in the works, another scenario occurred to me as I was preparing my summary. I have not thought it through thoroughly, so I don't know if it would work and I'm certainly not going to the barricades over it. However, I offer it for consideration.

Paulinus expected that sacrificing London would satisfy the rebels and that, after sacking it, they would return home with their plunder. Accordingly, he took the civilians to Verulamium, the nearest substantial Roman settlement, and then continued along Akeman Street towards the military zone in the west to rally his troops. Unfortunately for the civilians, Verulamium was the rebels' next target after London. Having attacked and plundered the municipium, the rebels themselves set off along Akeman Street, aiming for the territory of the Dobunni. Is there a site between St Albans and Cirencester that would match Tacitus' description?

I can see a couple of weaknesses. First, the Romans had a substantial military presence across the Severn in South Wales, so the rebels would be heading straight for an area of Roman military activity: into the lion's jaws, you might say. However, their tails were up: they had sacked three towns without effective opposition, they had defeated one legion and had another on the run. They probably thought that they were invincible. Secondly, why would they go for the Dobunni? Corinium was not yet founded, so there was no Roman settlement to plunder. However, the Dobunni had surrendered to the Romans without resistance and may have prospered as a consequence. They may, therefore, have opposed the rebellion, although this is pure speculation. Generally, they were a tribe friendly to the Romans that deserved a good kicking.

Anyway, that is the suggestion. What do you think?
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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a zoom in on the CS impact zone
[attachment=5721]08-11-201218-41-11.jpg[/attachment]


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Quote:Is there a site between St Albans and Cirencester that would match Tacitus' description?

Some time ago I had a glance at the valley north of Aldbury, itself north-east of Tring, which is on Akeman Street - some decent elevation at the Bridgewater Monument to the east and Aldbury Nowers to the west, with a possible 'defile' between. I dropped it in the end because Dunstable just looked better...
Nathan Ross
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While we're on the subject of alternative sites, though (and to stop things getting too repetitive!), here's another:

(Specially for Mike Bishop, this one)

The South-East Route


Arriving in London with his ten thousand men, Paulinus rapidly realises that the Second legion are not going to join him. Unsure of the loyalties of Cogidubnus (or unwilling to spark revolt among the Atrebates by marching an army across their land), he pulls back across the river to Southwark and burns the bridge behind him. After marching south-east down Watling Street with the refugees, he camps just short of Rochester and summons the auxiliaries from Rochester itself and the Channel ports to join him.

However, rather than heading west or returning home after destroying London (Paulinus, perhaps, hoping to attack their rearguard), the Britons cross the Thamas at Staines and swing around along the south bank instead. They burn Southwark (there's some evidence for this) and keep going eastwards, into the fertile lands of Kent, closing in on Paulinus.

After considering making a stand on the Medway, Paulinus advances a few miles west and takes up a position on the high ground just north-east of Gravesham (which itself is north of Cobham)- Watling Street rises here onto the edge of the North Downs, with what looks like a valley between Randall Wood and Ashenbank Wood. Modern development makes it hard to see the lie of the land hereabouts, but I'm assuming the three little ponds there are ornamental lakes connected to the hotel and not original features...

Any takers for that idea then? :-)
Nathan Ross
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Michael the resume of events was brilliant and my main criticism would only be that the reinforcements does not mean that Rome was not stretched at the time as an extra 7,000 men to mop up was obviously needed.

Nathan, The new configuration for Dunstable is much better but I would be interested in the number of men and the breakdown of the Roman Army. My only other remarks concern the sheer volume that the Brythons would occupy (perhaps 50,000 for the baggage train and 180,000 for the warriors or are you going with different figures?)

Obviously if the slopes were wooded (as you mention and as the position behind SP was wooded) the cavalry would not be able to operate and would not be on the hills but in the valley.

John the changes to the CS battle plan and placements seems to work. You mention that the distance from the borders of the Iceni homeland is only 40 miles but from Thetford more like 75 miles and from Colchester more like 90 miles. Do the woods not also inhibit the encircling movements of your cavalry?

(I will obviously stick to my own favourite but that is not here for discussion).

Regarding Mike Bishop's teaser about the Dorking Gap - marvellous site just south of West Humble fits all the criteria (including a real rampart on the Eastern edge of the Battle Site and a narrowing valley and a place for the Roman Army to fit in. Twenty miles away from London on the road to Chichester (Stane Street) and perhaps to the fleet - or across to Lake Farm near Poole.

Only problem is that it has a river in it I am afraid and therefore couldn't possibly work I am reliably led to beleive. :oops:

Other than that as a battle site it is superb and there might have been auxilliaries in the forts near Leith Hill which SP could have called on.

This would of course mean that either the Twentieth joined SP in London or that they came down Watling Street from Wales with him! (although I would suggest the former of course)

So now we have a few to look at and disprove.....

Kind Regards - Deryk
Deryk
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Quote:I would be interested in the number of men and the breakdown of the Roman Army. My only other remarks concern the sheer volume that the Brythons would occupy (perhaps 50,000 for the baggage train and 180,000 for the warriors or are you going with different figures?)

The double rectangular blocks on my plan each represent a cohort formed eight deep - they're measured as 180ft wide to scale. There are ten cohorts of the Fourteenth and two of the Twentieth (the latter repesenting a 1000-man vexillation). Then four more quingenary cohorts of auxiliary infantry and four alae of cavalry or equites cohortales. I think the layout I've shown fits the numbers, although the formation could have been tighter.

As for the Britons - around 57,000 warriors, on the 4/1 estimate derived from Caesar (inexact, but what else do we have?). I'm going on the idea that untrained men will bunch much closer together for mutual protection than disciplined infantry - observe a football mob, or street rioters - and therefore occupy less ground man for man. They may spread out at times, but will swarm rather than hold a formation. Hard, therefore, to estimate how much ground a tight-packed moving mass of nearly 60,000 would occupy - any clues?


Quote:Regarding Mike Bishop's teaser about the Dorking Gap

(ahum!) ;-) - although others have mentioned it before, just not here...


Quote:Only problem is that it has a river in it

True, but the river's on the flank rather than across the field. It might work, if the Roman line was well south, at the upper end of the Denbies estate. This would give a battlefield of approx 1km square, with the northern end hemmed in by hill slopes and the curve of the river.


Quote:auxilliaries in the forts near Leith Hill

Which are they? :dizzy:
Nathan Ross
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Quote:Any takers for that idea then? :-)
Not me, I'm afraid. I simply do not understand why Paulinus would go there. The area might have been more thoroughly Romanized than other parts of the province, so he need not fear hostility from local tribes but, otherwise, so what? He might pick up a few more auxiliaries but there were no legions there to augment his force. He could call on troops from the Continent but they would take weeks to arrive and, in the meantime, the rebels would have a free hand. He might not have anticipated that the rebels would follow him (I am not sure that I understand that, either) but, in any case, he would be isolating himself from the rest of his army, which was scattered in separate parts of the province and would be, in effect, leaderless. I am sorry to go on about this reinforcement business but I think that the need to increase his numbers to a level at which he could feel confident in confronting the rebels was absolutely crucial to his actions. Of course, in the event, he was able to defeat them without substantial reinforcements but that, I suggest, was because, by good generalship or good luck, he was able to find a battlesite that ideally compensated for his lack of numbers. To get back to the reinforcement point, all the other withdrawal routes that have been suggested provide him, to a greater or lesser extent, with the opportunity to augment his force; this one does not. (I am assuming in all this that his reason for going south was not to do a Catus Decianus and bunk off to Gaul!)
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
Deryk wrote;
You mention that the distance from the borders of the Iceni homeland is only 40 miles but from Thetford more like 75 miles and from Colchester more like 90 miles.

I based the Iceni territory on this;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceni

If the Brits mustered at Hunsbury that makes the distance to their territory equate to Northampton-Cambridge ie 55 miles on the AA route planner;
http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/index.jsp
so as the crow flies 40 miles doesn't seem too far off the mark.

The main point is that Colchester, Dunstable and CS are all in a similar scale of distance from where we know the Iceni to have been, the western sites are all clearly much further away, twice as far away. The distance argument Deryk makes depends on the Iceni, with families, being in London and St Albans, we simply don't know this. I would contend that there is a fair chance that the Iceni families never went on the parade,if there was one, but rather they pitched up for the final showdown relatively close to home. I do not believe it is possible to make the distance from London a defining factor in assessing these sites. If you are going to cite distance then the distance from known Iceni sites of value, i.e. home, may well be more significant and therefore downgrade the credibility of the western sites. I will continue to ridicule the parade theory, it's just silly.

Do the woods not also inhibit the encircling movements of your cavalry?

there are 2 interesting factors concerning the "woods" in the case of CS;

1) if there were 10000 Romans mustering and building lots of field fortifications over the course of several days, as I contend, then the pioneers are going to pretty much scalp the area for construction materials and fuel so no timber is left to significantly impede cavalry or screen the enemy. A constructed battlefield.

2) the horse shoe ridge at CS is surrounded to the north and south by tributaries of the Nene which almost meet at the western end. These are now well mannered agricultural ditches that have been managed since the Middle Ages. It is reasonable to surmise that in 61AD this was not the case and that they were un-managed Alder/Willow scrub on a boggy seasonally flooded terrain. This kind of woodland is virtually impenetrable in any meaningful way by an organised formation. So in this case the "woods behind" may have been a low lying moat of trees overlooked by an intimidating array of ridgetop Roman fortifications. These north and south wooded barriers could be another reason, other than the approach up the Nene valley, to drive the Iceni westwards into the CS valley.
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Quote:if there were 10000 Romans mustering and building lots of field fortifications over the course of several days, as I contend, then the pioneers are going to pretty much scalp the area for construction materials and fuel so no timber is left to significantly impede cavalry or screen the enemy. A constructed battlefield.
This notion of field fortifications is pure fiction. There is nothing whatsoever in the sources to justify it.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
ok so you have 10000 or so roman troops massing, not a single marching camp, really? not a tiny bit of ditch? not the slightest hint of pallisade? "Pure fiction" bit of a strong tone don't you think?

These might be field fortifications, they might not be, but "pure fiction"? no it's an unproven speculation :razz: :razz:

[attachment=5745]aerial2.jpg[/attachment]

[attachment=5746]aerial3_2012-11-09.jpg[/attachment]


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Quote:Not me, I'm afraid.

Well, not me either really! Just a bit of Devil's advocacy. But I think it's worthwhile to float alternatives, however unlikely - stops the debate getting bogged down and helps us refine our terms.


Quote:not a single marching camp, really? not a tiny bit of ditch? not the slightest hint of pallisade?

Marching camp there would be - but for ten thousand it would be a large compound, around 30-40 acres, and probably not on a hilltop but well behind the battle line.

Part of the problem with the fortification idea (aside from the ones I mentioned already) would be that Paulinus would need to set aside men to man them - further depleting the numbers in his main force. Besides, Paulinus wanted the Britons to attack him - the sight of a line of fortifications stretching around the hilltops would be unlikely to encourage this!

Church Stowe is a strong natural redoubt and was probably used for centuries, from the early Iron age through to the Norman period. Not surprisingly, there are signs of all sorts of works on the hilltops. I don't think you need incorporate these structures into your plan for the battle though.
Nathan Ross
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