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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
(05-23-2020, 05:09 PM)John1 Wrote: I swear I can hear Nathan banging his head on his desk from here.

You can indeed.

But I suppose we're all stuck at home with little to do, so we may as well indulge this absurdity a little further...


(05-23-2020, 04:17 PM)Renatus Wrote: But only if they sailed 24 hours a day.

And also if they sailed at a constant speed. The Speed of Ancient Sailing Ships was highly variable, of course - 4.5 to 6 knots was the best possible in open water with favourable winds. Casson revises this to '3 to 4 knots while working through islands or along coasts', which would fit the kind of voyage we're considering here. With unfavourable winds the speed could drop to 1.5 knots, or even less.

Assuming that Paulinus had favourable winds, from the north-east for example, carrying him quickly down the Irish sea he could make the journey to the Cornish coast in a couple of days. But he would then need to navigate the capes of Land's End, whereupon he would find the winds set against him, and would be forced to make the voyage along the south coast under oars. Or vice versa, of course. This would not only be a blistering voyage, but a very slow one.

The account of Rutilius Namatianus gives us some idea of the speed of coastal voyaging - even along, in this case, the well known and relatively safe Italian coast. Namatianus covers at average 36 miles per day between harbours or putting ashore for the night (at that same speed, it would take Paulinus about 20 days to reach London). He also attests to the difficulty of having to row and tack around headlands and islands - he takes an entire day getting around Monte Argentario, for example. Paulinus would have the same difficulties with Land's End and probably the cape of Pembroke as well.

Plus, of course, he would have no idea how safe his landing places might be. How would the locals react to a sudden seaborne arrival by total strangers? Paulinus might be in danger of ending up dead "in fulfillment of some religious ritual demanded by the druids..."!

Assuming he avoided beheading or being stuck in a wicker man, or baked in a pasty, or whatever fate lay in store for unannounced callers in iron age west Wales and Cornwall, and assuming the winds were in his favour at least half of the voyage, and assuming he avoided storms, getting wrecked on the shore, getting blown far out to sea or just plain getting lost, he could still expect to take at least ten days* to claw his way around the coast and up the Thames to London. Only to arrive exhausted, with a handful of men and no idea where his army was or what was going on.

Alternatively, he could have marched with his whole force from Anglesey down to London in only three or four days more. Which is exactly what Tacitus tells he did... Or are we assuming that Tacitus somehow failed to mention this epic daredevil seagoing adventure, and then pretended later for some reason that Paulinus was a risk-adverse type guy who would never do such a thing?

*EDIT - even an open-sea voyage of 680 miles, at an average speed of 3.5 knots (4mph) with 16 sailing hours a day would take 10.6 days.


(05-23-2020, 04:17 PM)Renatus Wrote: Which of these options is a cautious general who likes to leave nothing to chance most likely to choose?

A rhetorical question, of course! [Image: tongue.png]
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
RE: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand. - by Nathan Ross - 05-23-2020, 06:44 PM

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