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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Quote:I'm increasingly of the opinion that Tacitus's description of locum artis faucibus (the 'defile feature') is intended to be as much strategic as topographic. I believe it's likely that the latin word in this case is related to a throat, gullet, or pass - like the vestibule (faux) at the entrance to a house. I.e. a place where a road passes through or over high ground and is constricted on both sides. This position would allow a small force to oppose a larger one - the phrase angustias loci (the 'narrowness of the place') is otherwise used by Livy to describe the pass at Thermopylae and a narrow street in a city battle (we've discussed this before too!...)

So the location in question would not be a closed valley or ravine, but a strategic pass where Paulinus could block the Britons' route.
We have certainly discussed artis faucibus before. I commented on it in some detail here. The difficulty with its being a pass through which the Britons would have to go to get to their destination, wherever that was, is the presence of the wood. Paulinus evidently regarded this as a blocking feature, which is incompatible with the fauces being a route of travel.

As to the manoeuvres that the Britons would have to perform to get to Deryk’s preferred site, John’s suggestion of Braidnidge Wood as a possible alternative certainly merits consideration. I really should have a look at the area; it is not so far from where I live.
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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“The difficulty with its being a pass through which the Britons would have to go to get to their destination, wherever that was,” Renatus

I think this is a critical point.

Certainly Dunstable could only be seen in that light if the Iceni destination were NW to relieve the new conquests, but even if that is the case they know they will have to go through P’s force to get to them, so the pure interception theory comes up a bit short. The best case scenario for Dunstable would be if the destination was generally the NW and the Iceni were looking for a final battle and they somehow strangely felt compelled to play into Roman hands by using their new fangled road network. But then as Michael suggests, at Dunstable the Romans don’t have their backs to some timber back wall but the open plain of the Ouse. This seems to fly in the face of the text to me.

I think the only plausible scenario was that the Iceni were going after the Roman force en masse on a search and destroy campaign, and the Romans wanted a secure muster and last stand position with the expectation that the Brits would come and “have a go” . Security of location for the Roman muster and Roman fight style trumps any detailed blocking position to either destination, the NW or the Iceni homelands, by a long, long way.

Did I mention that CS provides a great position to defend the NW and strike at the Iceni lands?

“So the location in question would not be a closed valley or ravine, but a strategic pass where Paulinus could block the Britons' route.” Nathan

No way… :grin: you definitely have your Dunstable glasses on there, it is plausible, but no more plausible than there being a closed valley, once again the texts are too shallow to draw these kinds of absolutes from.
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Quote:The difficulty with its being a pass... is the presence of the wood. Paulinus evidently regarded this as a blocking feature.

That's a good point. Tacitus does say that the position was 'closed' by the wood at the rear. But this could be a literary device, contrasting the 'closed wood' (silva clausum) behind with the 'open plain' (apertam planitiem) in front... Anyway, I would argue (of course!) that the steep wooded north-west slopes of the Chiltern escarpment would effectively prevent any flanking of the Dunstable position, and the woodland (apparently) covering the site of modern Dunstable itself would prevent the deployment of troops behind the Roman lines. It was still a through-route, just a very constricted one.


Quote:the Iceni were looking for a final battle and they somehow strangely felt compelled to play into Roman hands by using their new fangled road network.

The gap in the hills from Flamstead through to Dunstable was, I would think, almost certainly a road long before the Romans turned up! If the Britons were at St Albans, it was no great distance away either...

Wink
Nathan Ross
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I have been following Boudica for years (no pun!) and am familiar with all of the hypotheses. I wonder, rather than around half a dozen eminent people defending their own theories, has anyone attempted an analysis of known finds? Either around the main favoured sites, or a relevant concentration of in-period finds elsewhere? Perhaps including graves? I always hoped the late Mick Aston might have championed a wider approach. But sadly this is no longer possible.
Davidus
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Birgitta Hoffmann's new book, The Roman Invasion of Britain: Archaeology versus History, originally planned for release in April but now delayed to 30th August at the earliest, may have something interesting to say on this subject.
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
half a dozen eminent people defending their own theories

where are these eminent people? I've only seen a group of mildly deluded amateurs shooting their mouths off so far :twisted:

I've been surprised there has been so little active debate on the topic or pursuit of what seem some fairly obvious candidates. I heard Richard Hingley on Radio 4 say " a lot of people have looked for it (the battle site) and a lot of people claim to have found it" but I think more people have written books or done tv shows on Boudicca than have actually got around to nominating a site, and I can only think of one individual who has claimed without caveat to have found the site, and I think he had his tongue in his cheek.

I think the absence of a methodological search may provide interesting insights into the mind set and motivations for contemporary archaeologists. At the moment the site advocate process seems to be adding some content and profile to the debate, ideally each site would be archaeologically tested and rejected but no archaeo dept has stepped up to the plate. Prof Aston and his team would have been a great way to test a couple of the sites, CS in particular as there is plenty of archaeology in need of exploration and interpretation just sitting there.

In the mean time we deluded amateurs can keep thrashing around our armchairs ;-)
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Bother - wrote a long reply and the system ate it.

About sums up the topic, really.

"I think the absence of a methodological search may provide interesting insights into the mind set and motivations for contemporary archaeologists" - nope, wouldn't agree. Too many "archaeolgists" rely in technology to do their job for them and haven't the correct grounding in their subject before launching misguided, very expensive, trial trenching which is , at best, hit and miss.
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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Moi, you're back, I thought you'd given up on us, shame the long reply was missing, I am intrigued.

I was thinking more on the line of;

1 Seems like a good graduate thesis topic challenge that was never taken up, why?
2 No end of pundits ready to repeat/publish dogma un-challenged by comparative survey, why?
3 Was Webster so high up on a pedestal that Mancetter couldn't be challenged?

But your short form reply seems to be questioning archaeological method and training which is VERY interesting to an outsider.
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Years of analysis has been predicated upon only one (Tacitus') contemporary account, which, by any definition, cannot be objective and might even be politically expedient.

Mainly due to the burning of Silchester, I personally support the battle (if it happened in this way at all) taking place somewhere to the West or North West of London, or the use of Akeman Street, following the burning of St. Albans. So I think the site is at Long Hanborough ( Kaye's site# 47 ) But is this only because I live North of Oxford? In other words, it could only have been ''in my back yard''!

On the other hand, besides Steve Kaye's, it seems to me that the only real site analysis I have seen is Church Stowe by Craft Pegg. This (latter) is compelling because there are some contemporary remains and, apparently a local burial site, including a skeleton of 'African (Roman?) descent'. But where else in Britain is there another possibly artificial memorial hilltop?

Many of the other analyses are of the logistical 'just in time' type which have their place, but seem hardly to pin the location of the site down, even to a vague geographical area.

I stand to be corrected.

In conclusion, one of the hundred things I want to do before I die is to know the site of Boudica's last battle.
So, please, you Guys, help an 'Old Fart' out, before it's too late........................
Davidus
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Quote:" a lot of people have looked for it (the battle site) and a lot of people claim to have found it" but I think more people have written books or done tv shows on Boudicca than have actually got around to nominating a site

There have been a lot of suggestions, dating back to the antiquarians of the 18th century - funnily enough, most of these early sites were in north London, around Hampstead Heath, Islington and King's Cross (platform 9, no doubt!). But these writers were not what we would call 'serious' (i.e. academic) historians, just amateurs like us...

Dudley's and Webster's suggestion of Mancetter has gained such currency over the years because they were the only reputable modern historians to propose a site, and even then it was supposed to be tentative. Most other historians who looked at the subject (Syme, Collingwood) realised that the literary record was insufficiently detailed to allow any accuracy, and the archeological record too slim to do more than hazard vague guesses.

So I don't think this points to any lack of verve or nerve in either the archaeological or historical profession, just a professional awareness that there's really not much to go on and the odds are firmly against discovery. Which does rather leave it to amateurs with nothing to lose!


Quote:the only real site analysis I have seen is Church Stowe by Craft Pegg... there are some contemporary remains and, apparently a local burial site... But where else in Britain is there another possibly artificial memorial hilltop?

Site analysis has been done at other places - Paulerspury, I believe, proved inconclusive. The suggested site at Clifton Dunsmore has quite an impressive writeup, featuring antiquarian 'burial' mounds and possible monuments and so on.

Trouble is, none of this provides real proof of a 1st century battle site. There's little evidence for the Romans erecting victory monuments (aside from Adamklissi, and maybe Arthur's Oon?), and none for burial mounds in the 1st century either. Known major battle sites like Cannae and Cremona have produced no human remains. The battle was probably on a major route in southern England, settled for thousands of years afterwards - unlike sites like Kalkreise and Harzhorn, lost in the wilds of Germania, it would probably have been picked clean of most material remains long ago.

So what would we find, even if we identified the exact site? Not much, probably! I still believe that a strategic and even logistical interpretation based on the literary evidence is our best bet for suggesting the general area of the battle - but that doesn't sound too thrilling, I know...

It's still possible that something will turn up one day. There's a survey commencing at own preferred site at the moment, which appears to my limited knowledge quite admirably methodical and rigorous. I fondly hope they discover something amazing, but I realise that any finds are likely to be unspectacular and therefore subject to interpretation and argument. We'll see...
Nathan Ross
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Quote:So I think the site is at Long Hanborough ( Kaye's site# 47 ) But is this only because I live North of Oxford? In other words, it could only have been ''in my back yard''!
This reminds me of a comment made by Dudley and Webster, both then (I think) based in Birmingham (Donald R. Dudley & Graham Webster, The Rebellion of Boudicca, London 1962, p. 152):

"The British antiquary clings firmly to the belief that all historical events can be placed on the map, and that most of them happened in his own county . . . The present authors, it will be seen, follow the tradition of the British antiquary."
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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Thank You, John, Nathan and Renatus
I think I had put Webster et al. rather to the back of my mind. The temptation being to get a bit excited about the latest analysis. As you say, Paulersbury was inconclusive, not least because (I seem to recall, among other things) a Saxon cemetery was mistaken for an early British one.
Having read most of this blog, I asked myself much was being achieved by 40 pages of well- intentioned and informed speculation, especially when someone said that many of the readers had little to say due to lack of knowledge (or words to that effect). In case I fall into that category, I decided to divert the discussion onto another tack. Not through devilment, but to draw out a different way of looking at the enigma.
By the way, how many academics or archaeological draw inspiration from what is being said here?
Davidus
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Does this mean that you think that we have been wasting our (and, by implication, your) time?
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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my wife does.... :whistle:
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No, not at all.Even though I may have written a little 'tongue-in cheek', this was meant to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion. After all, who am I to waste anyone else's time, other than my own?
if this is a forum only for those better informed, then I will disappear as quickly as I arrived......
Davidus
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