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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
There have been a number of concerning comments about rivers adjacent, or running through, my candidate battle-sites. Commentators suggest the river degrades the rank status of the candidate.

In post #365870 I outlined that all river parameters were reconstructed from first principles (topography, rainfall, temp, evapotranspiration etc.) for the Summer of 60/16 AD and, furthermore, an attribute called 'Effect of a river flowing through the front-line' was also applied rivers.

It is not possible to examine modern rivers on Google Earth or maps and then assume they represent the condition in the 1st C. AD.

Elsewhere I have written:

"Human activity alters all of these parameters [of rivers], such that a reach of a modern river in SE England will have a different width, depth, velocity, etc. in comparison to its ancient, natural self. Human agency has been so pervasive that the Environment Agency (UK) estimates that less than 15% of UK rivers are natural today (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)); there are almost certainly none in SE England. To quote further from the CEH:

The need to drain land, to protect it from flooding, to control the flow of water for water supply or hydropower, or to use the watercourses for navigation, fishing or recreation, have all imposed change [on natural rivers] to a greater or lesser degree."


These comments are taken from my essay Invasion of Britain, 43 AD: riverine, wading and tidal studies as a means of limiting the possible locations of the invasion-ground and the two-day river battle. A shorter article will be published in Archaeologia Cantiana in 2015. That essay contains details of some of the hydrology calculations that have (maybe) shown that the two-day river battle in 43 AD could only have happened on the Medway.

The point I'm striving to make is that casual comments on river attributes derived from views of modern rivers is dangerous/misleading/confusing/results in gross errors but archaeologists/historians do this too frequently (for example, claiming that the two-day river battle mentioned above occurred alongside the river Arun at Pulborough).

As examples, we can examine the depths, widths, velocities etc. of the rivers Mole and Bulbourne at my candidate sites 1 and 3 in the summer, respectively. For the avoidance of confusion, these are reconstructed values for summer (July) 60/61 AD; they are not modern values.

Site 1, Mole, Dorking:

Width = 2.4 m, average depth = 0.52 m, Thalweg(depth) = 0.67, velocity = 0.87 m/second, flow (Q) = 1.1 m3/second.

Site 3, Bulbourne, Alyngton:

Width = 0.69 m, average depth = 0.29 m, Thalweg(depth) = 0.38, velocity = 0.60 m/second, flow (Q) = 0.12 m3/second.


The values for the Bulbourne are so low that a modern soldier would chuckle if you were to suggest he should be concerned about its presence. A Legionary, constantly crossing much larger rivers, would also dismiss the Bulbourne. The same could be said of the tribespeople (chariots included).

The Mole was larger, but even so an average depth of 0.5 m (knee height) would not pose a crossing problem for Legionaries, auxiliaries or cavalry. Furthermore, site 1 had a thalweg depth greater than 0.5 m and so has been penalised under the attribute 'Effect of blocking or trapping by large rivers' - page 17 - and also penalised by the attribute 'Effect of a river flowing through the front-line' (page 16) because the Mole clips the right of the frontline. Nevertheless, primarily due to the superior topography of the the site, it still ranks as number one.

As for the placement of the river in 60/61 AD, the Mole flows south on the far right flank of the front-line and directly against Box Hill, i.e. it would have protected the Roman right. The river does swing across in front of the Roman front-line but at a distance of approx. 1 km and, in this case, would hinder the tribespeople both in advance and retreat, i.e. Suetonius and his men might have viewed that as beneficial.

The point of these examples is, I hope, to demonstrate that casual examination can lead to inappropriate conclusions. Care and calculation are required.

Steve Kaye
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Messages In This Thread
Re: Calling all armchair generals! - by Ensifer - 03-11-2010, 03:13 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-18-2012, 06:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 12:02 AM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 02:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 05:40 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 11:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 05:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 09:42 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 10:10 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:25 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 08:36 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-26-2012, 02:57 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-27-2012, 01:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 08-05-2012, 02:24 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-07-2014, 02:18 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-08-2014, 01:50 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-11-2014, 02:03 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-18-2014, 07:54 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-20-2014, 02:37 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-25-2014, 08:29 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 03-06-2015, 12:38 PM

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