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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Quote: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.

In most cases I agree - the condition of rivers, like patterns of forestation, can change greatly.

However, in the case of valleys that have been extensively canalised, like the Bulbourne, I think it's worth looking further into whatever evidence might be available.

The Bulbourne today is, as you say, a rather insignificant chalk stream, rising a little below Dudswell. However, construction of the Grand Junction Canal in 1799 appears to have dramatically changed the source and volume of the river. Prior to the canal, the Bulbourne rose at Bulbourne Head, close to the hamlet of Bulbourne. Construction of reservoirs north of Tring, boreholes and the Three Valleys Water extraction point at Newground seem to have severely depleted the supply of water to the river.

That the Bulbourne originally carried a greater volume of water is also suggested by the records of at least three mills on the river, two of them at Berkhamsted (one in the vicinity of Bank Mill Lane, one of your listed sites).

The river valley also appears to have featured water meadows, willow copses and extensive cress beds, which perhaps argue for a wet floor beyond the confines of the river itself.

(This page has some pictures of the river today, while this one has some more information on 19th-century changes to the water supply)

None of this definitely disqualifies the site, of course - there's always the possibility of a very dry summer depleting the water volume and drying the ground - but we should be careful, I think, about making these assumptions.

As for Dorking, I'd agree that it looks very promising, and there's a wide enough area of open ground west of the river to fight the battle - the Roman front line perhaps just north of Dorking Station, parallel to Bradley Lane and with its right flank on the river, the British wagon encampment on the higher ground around the village of Westhumble. However, the lack of any mention of a river by Tacitus is still a bit troubling, although perhaps not critical as in this case it would play only an incidental role in the course of the battle itself.

* the river might also present a problem for the right-flank cavalry, who would have to form on the riverbank itself and advance along it, as the slopes of Box Hill are too steep. Not sure if riverbank vegetation might count as 'ambuscades', but that would only affect the cavalry and auxiliaries on the right.
Nathan Ross
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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 Nathan Ross - 03-06-2015, 03:46 PM

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