Mons Graupius - Boudica's last battle http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle Sun, 09 Dec 2018 15:06:14 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb mike1@haseler.net (Mons Graupius) Mancetter http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/174-mancetter http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/174-mancetter Proposed by: ?
Date:
Grid Ref: ?
Lat/Long: ?
Starting scenario:
Original URL

A "traditional" location for the battle is Mancetter. This does not have much support as typified by this post:

Ensifer: Thursday, March 11th, 2010, 03:13 pm

"Why do you have the Iceni sacking Londinium after Verulamium? It doesn't seem clear from Tacitus that that was their line of attack. If the traditional location in Mancetter is correct, I would think they were pursuing Suetonius Paulinus back up Watling Street, which would mean that they sacked Londinium first, then Verulamium. Tactitus actually mentions the sackings in that order, (although, to be fair, it's not clear that he's being chronological in his references). That's the only scenario that makes sense of Mancetter. The Iceni move on London, Paulinus pulls back up Watling Street past Verulamium, and finally stands at Mancetter. Both Londinium and Verulamium are sacked by the pursuing Britons, who are themselves destroyed when they reach Paulinus.

 

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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:36:20 +0000
Church Stowe http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/173-church-stowe http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/173-church-stowe Proposed by: John1?
Date:
Grid Ref: ?
Lat/Long: ?
Original URL
: https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread-16575.html

John1 commenting on site:

try this theory that the site was at Church Stowe, Northamptonshire;

http://www.craftpegg.com/Battle_Church_Stowe_CP.pdf

Another paper on one of the sites in the Church Stowe document;

http://archlib.britarch.net/tfiles/1244409271/689.pdf

fig 1 shows a better extent of the ridge that could have acted as a "rampart" i.e. steep on all sides and pinched to almost nothing in the west.

fig 5, are there any collelations between this iron work and 1st century Roman or Britsh spears that these guys weren't aware of?

How does the box rampart construction square up as a British or Roman technique?
i.e. could this site be Roman rather than the iron age univallate hillfort that it is currently written up as here;

http://www.magic.gov.uk/rsm/21627.pdf


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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:31:53 +0000
BLB: Introduction http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/172-blb-introduction http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/172-blb-introduction Boudica was queen of the Iceni tribe from the Norfolk area. When her husband Prasutagus died there was a dispute about how what property was left to Nero in his will, as a result, Boudica was flogged, her daughters raped and the Iceni went on the rampage destroying the then Roman capital of Colchester.  

The Roman Governor of Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was campaigning on the island of Mona (Anglesey). Boudica and her army headed for London. Suetonius and a small part of his army, arriving ahead of the rebels, concluded he did not have the numbers to defend the city evacuated and ordered it evacuated. Tacitus claims that every inhabitant who could not get away was killed. St. Albans was also attacked.  Tacitus says Paulinus amassed a force including his own Legio XIV Gemina, parts of the XX Valeria Victrix, and any available auxiliaries, a total of 10,000 men. A third legion, II Augusta, near Exeter, failed to join him; a fourth, IX Hispana, had been routed trying to relieve Camulodunum.

Paulinus and Boudica came to battle and though heavily outnumbered the Romans won and Tacitus claims a rumour that 80,000 Britons fell against only 400 Romans. The fate of Boudica is not known and she is never heard on again in recorded history.

The information on the site of the battle is sparse and difficult to follow. As a result there has been much speculation about the site and even general location of the battle. Below is a summary of the key evidence:

The relevant Texts describing the site:

John1 URL: https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread-16575.html

Cassius Dio Book LXII“Paulinus could not extend his line the whole length of hers, for, even if the men had been drawn up only one deep, they would not have reached far enough, so inferior were they in numbers; nor, on the other hand, did he dare join battle in a single compact force, for fear of being surrounded and cut to pieces. He therefore separated his army into three divisions, in order to fight at several points at one and the same time, and he made each of the divisions so strong that it could not easily be broken through.

Late in the day, the Romans prevailed; and they slew many in battle beside the wagons and the forest, and captured many alike.”

The Annals of Tacitus (AD 110-120), Book XIV“Ch 34. The fourteenth legion, with the veterans of the twentieth, and the auxiliaries from the adjacent stations, having joined Suetonius, his army amounted to little less than ten thousand men. Thus reinforced, he resolved, without loss of time, to bring on a decisive action. For this purpose he chose a spot encircled with woods, narrow at the entrance, and sheltered in the rear by a thick forest. In that situation he had no fear of an ambush. The enemy, he knew, had no approach but in front. An open plain lay before him. He drew up his men in the following order: the legions in close array formed the centre; the light armed troops were stationed at hand to serve as occasion might require: the cavalry took post in the wings.
Ch 35. A Roman legion dared to face the warlike Britons: with their lives they paid for their rashness; those who survived the carnage of that day, lie poorly hid behind their entrenchments, meditating nothing but how to save themselves by an ignominious flight.
Ch37. The engagement began. The Roman legion presented a close embodied line. The narrow defile gave them the shelter of a rampart………The Britons betook themselves to flight, but their wagons in the rear obstructed their passage.”

Comments
1) Dio, three divisions, one for the centre and one on each ridge, i.e. north and south
2) The open plain would have been the Nene Valley which is now canalised but would have probably been rather more marshy east of Watling Street.
3) Ch 35 the Boudica speech suggests the Romans may have been behind “entrenchments”
4) A forest would not have protected the flanks and rear from infantry attack to the extent that the “narrow defile giving the shelter of a rampart” would, so topography is surely a more likely defence that a forest although the two may have been combined in this case
5) What would the extent of the battle front have been? If one speculates the auxiliaries and Twentieth took the high ground, flanks and fortifications, the Fourteenth was left to form the main battle front. That would be 5000 men, occupying 1metre of front each, that’s 5000m. The base of the Church Stowe valley ranges in width from about 500m to 1000m. Would a Legions front be 8 men deep? So a battle front of 600m ? The valley seems the right sort of scale for this.
6) The valley is pretty much in the centre of Britain. Is it possible that, because of it’s excellent defensive topography, the site was known already to the Roman military? possibly used as a base/safe haven during the original advance through Britain and the building of Watling Street? It would certainly be in the living memory if it were.

Outline of the complexity of locating the battle site

Nathan, Original URL: https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread-18369.html

The military aspects of Boudica's British revolt in AD61 and the Roman responses to it have received much comment and speculation (not least here on RAT!), a lot of them involving the location of the final battle. But at the risk of further reheating old chestnuts, I'd like to raise a few more questions on the subject.

As we know from Tacitus (Annals / Agricola) and Cassius Dio (Epitome book LXII), Suetonius Paulinus was away campaigning against the Druids on Anglesey when the revolt broke out. Boudica's forces attacked and burned Colchester, then defeated Petilius Cerialis and a vexillation of the Ninth Legion. Paulinus then arrived at London, decided it was indefensible and ordered it evacuated, withdrawing to some undisclosed location, where the Britons, after sacking London and St Albans, were signally defeated. The Second Legion, which had been ordered to support Paulinus, did not move from their base, and their commanding prefect committed suicide when he learned what had happened.

But there is a problem with all this: Anglesey is 250 miles by road from London. Colchester is only 50 miles away. Even considering the relative speeds of Boudica's tribal warband and Paulinus' legions, how did the legate reach London before the Britons, in time to survey the situation, evacuate the town and retreat?

One common suggestion (originally, I think, from Webster in 1978), is that Paulinus took ship from Anglesey to Deva, then sped south on Watling Street with only a cavalry bodyguard, leaving the legions to follow as best they could. He then retreated from London, meeting the legions somewhere on the road and turned to give battle.

Dio mentions Paulinus 'sailing' from Mona (LXII.8), but this could reflect Dio's uncertainty of the distance from Anglesey to the mainland! There is no other reference to cavalry, or a mad gallop down Watling Street. Tacitus says that Paulinus marched 'with wonderful resolution... amidst a hostile population' (Annals 14.33) - which seems to imply a steady measured advance, fortifying camps along the line of the road. When he reaches London, Paulinus is 'uncertain whether he should choose it as a seat of war', which implies that he had the numbers to do so - even if they were 'a scanty force of soldiers', they were not a mere cavalry bodyguard. Besides, would Paulinus really dash into the heart of a tribal rebellion with only a small cavalry force?

A mounted courier, riding at 50 miles a day, would have taken 3-4 days to reach Paulinus from London. Even with his cavalry alone, Paulinus would have taken the same time to get back there again. What were Boudica and her warriors doing for 8 days after the fall of Colchester? London was undefended, presumably wealthy, and the home of hated procurator Decianus. Why delay attacking it?

If we assume, instead, that Paulinus moved with his legions he would have taken even longer - up to 14 days from the straits of Anglesey at a normal marching pace of 18-20 miles per day, or 8 days if a faster pace was adopted (this is following Benario, 'Legionary Speed of March before the battle with Boudicca', Britannia 17, 1986. My calculation of distances uses the very handy distance measuring tool on Wikimapia - it's the little orange ruler in the top left of the frame!). So, if we don't go with Paulinus' cavalry gallop, we're looking at a delay of up to 18 days between the fall of Colchester and Boudica's attack on London!

The current favoured theory for the battle site - at Mancetter - would involve Boudica's force, together with families and baggage, hauling themselves 100 miles up Watling Street, through the territories of two other tribes, just to meet Paulinus in battle. Hard to imagine such dedication in a group that had taken 8-18 days just to decide to attack London!

Could there be a misapprehension here, based on the way Tacitus presents the story? He implies, and most people seem to have accepted, that the attack on Colchester was the start of the revolt, and the first news that Paulinus would have received of it. This is certainly dramatic, but is it likely? We know that the citizens of Colchester had already asked for help from Decianus, and he sent 200 men in response (probably all he had available at the time). Would he not have also informed Paulinus? We don't know how soon before the attack this happened, but the assembly of a tribal warband amongst the Iceni and Trinovantes must have taken some time. It's possible that Decianus, unless he was truly incompetent, could have know of this days, or even weeks, before the revolt broke out into open warfare, and passed the information on to the Governor.

Dio claims that Paulinus had 'already brought Mona to terms' when he learned of the revolt (LXII.8), so there was nothing to detain him from moving against the rebels at once. Would he have waited for the first outbreak, or would he have recognised that a massive tribal assembly close to Colchester, threatening to cut his lines of communication, needed to be confronted at once?

It is possible, therefore, that Paulinus was already on the march down Watling Street with his full force by the time the attack on Colchester actually happened. So what about Cerialis and the Ninth Legion? Could it be that his advance, rather than an independent attempt to relieve Colchester, was part of a combined strategy with Paulinus? The legions moving down Watling Street would form the central division of a three-pronged advance, with Cerialis and Ninth to the east and the Second to the west, all closing in on the rebels around Colchester. In Dio's description of the final battle there is the odd note that Paulinus 'separated his army into three divisions, in order to fight at several points at one and the same time' - this contradicts Tacitus, but could it be that this is Dio's (or the epitomator's) confused reference to Paulinus' initial plan of advance?

If this is the case, the plan went wrong - Cerialis perhaps moved forward too quickly, and his force was isolated and destroyed (Tacitus mentions his 'rashness'). The Second, of course, never left camp. Arriving somewhere close to London, therefore, Paulinus would have learned that Colchester had already fallen (but possibly only a day or two previously), his left wing had been beaten and his right had failed to move. Not surprising, if so, that he considered the troops he had with him (his own central division) to be 'scanty', and withdrew to a position where a small number could more adequately oppose a multitude - he wouldn't need to go far, though, as his troops were already with him. In this light, the suicide of Pœnius Postumus of the Second Legion is entirely justified - his failure had left Paulinus in a dangerously exposed position.

All of this, of course, would argue for a much more southerly location for that final battle, probably somewhere very close to London or St Albans. There would be no need, however, for Boudica's warband to go racing off for vast distances into the Midlands after the Romans!

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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:21:07 +0000
Tring-WestLeith http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/171-tring2 http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/171-tring2 Proposed by: Deryk
Date:
Grid Ref: SP910103 (491000, 210300)
Lat/Long:  51.783203, -0.681666
Positions: British + Roman
Starting scenario: Starting Scenario: Along Watling Street moving out from London ?
Original URL: Has broken Link

Site is that shown in Blue/Green

Suetonius Paulinus (SP) had a battle site (or indeed a place of refuge or defence) in mind when he left London – Tacitus tells us so.

From the writings of Tacitus it would seem that the Ninth were not necessarily ambushed (although we know that was a favourite British tactic and an area that the Legion would have been at its weakest) just simply overwhelmed by the force that had already sacked Colchester and were either on their way home or on their way to London.

Few of us support the “dash to London” approach (and if the whole country was up in arms as Tacitus implies SP could not afford to weaken his force) so if we are to believe Tacitus, he went to London with his whole army but already knew of the defeat of the Ninth when he arrived in London and deemed it too small a force to be effective in defending that town.

Obviously the Tribal Army must have been on the way to London otherwise there would have been no mention of defence or a need to take refugees with him but must either have delayed to see where SP was advancing to (it could have been from a number of locations) or were really slow – I prefer the former on the basis of previous movements of the Tribal armies recorded by Caesar or indeed the escape of Caratacus from the Medway battle.

Tacitus states that surprisingly SP took certain refugees with him from London which would have burdened him in a number of ways so he must have been confident that he would not be caught by the Brythons following him from London.

Contentiously perhaps but it would seem that the place where SP was to regroup was not too far away as the refugees would not have been ready for a major forced march at some speed.

SP would have started out West and then have taken the road north to the station at Brockley Hill and then either to St Albans on Watling Street and up Akeman Street to Tring or directly from Brockley Hill via the Gade and Bulbourne river valleys which terminate just outside present day Tring with the Icknield Way running from the East to the South West along the Chiltern escarpment just north of Tring at the Roman Settlement of Aston Clinton.

So what is so special at Tring?

There is a large natural set of raised land to the west of Tring that define a large area of the Chiltern Hills (about 5 by 3 miles) that rises on the edge of a massive plain. Two of the hills are the highest in their county of Hertfordshire (Pavis Wood) and Buckinghamshire (Haddington Hill). It is a wonderful area to defend with 360 degree views across the country, the Icknield Way and Akeman Street.

Original attachment unavailable: [attachment=7778]tringpics1.pdf[/attachment]
Original attachment unavailable [attachment=7779]tringpics2.pdf[/attachment]

It rises on many sides steeply and has valleys like those described by Tacitus including the woods. On one side it is protected along its ridge by “Grims Ditch” acting as a further barrier and as a an earlier Tribal delimiter. It also has springs based on a natural aquifer and is close to the source of the Bulbourne River in the past.

So a place to regroup and prepare for battle and to wait for reinforcements and the enemy to arrive, where camps could be set up in safety in the high grounds above the valleys and where artillery could be built and defences implemented and tactics reviewed by a careful and talented general.

Discussion

 

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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:35:34 +0000
Suggesting a site http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/170-suggesting-a-site http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/170-suggesting-a-site This category was started because I've been following a discussion on romanarmytalk.com with a 1000 posts and it has become very difficult to follow. This is simply a list of proposed sites - to help me understand that conversation. If you wish to add to the list, could you provide the following:

First (if not already given) outline the broad hypothesis explaining what leads you to this part of the country. In other words, which direction Paulinus went and how fast and why.

Then:

1) why this rough location (as in to the nearest 10-20miles) - which might be "it was X-days march from ..."
2) why this specific location (as in this valley)
3) How do you see the battle site in terms of where troops lined up, possible camps
4) what evidence if any do you have suggesting this site
5) what site visits have been made
6) what plans do you have for the future

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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:35:09 +0000
Tring-Newground http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/169-tring http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/169-tring Proposed by: Nathan Ross
Date:
Grid Ref: SP967097 (496700, 209700)
Lat/Long:  51.778434,  -0.600270
Positions: British + Roman
Starting scenario: Starting Scenario: Along Watling Street moving out from London
Original URL: https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread-16575-post-333880.html#pid333880

I was in the British Museum last week, and happened to notice one of the exhibits. Most of you will know it - a bronze Coolus E helmet. What caught my attention was the information card: found during the digging of the Grand Junction canal between Tring and Berkhamstead.

British Museum Helmet[Image: AN00033850_001_l.jpg?width=304]

There are actually (I think) very few legionary helmets from Britain - this one, another at Colchester, and a third from the Thames. All of them early-mid 1st century. The find spot for this one is a bit vague: 'Northchurch, Norcott Hill' - but if it was found during the canal construction in 1813 then it must have been close to the canal itself, perhaps where Norcott Hill crosses it, or thereabouts. This is close enough to Akeman Street, of course. But why would a helmet have been deposited there, when so few have been found elsewhere?

Here's the hypothesis: the helmet could have belonged to one of the legionaries who fought in the Claudian invasion of AD43. These men, upon discharge, could have been settled in the new veteran colony at Colchester and taken their kit with them. When the colony was conquered by the rebels in AD61, the helmet was picked up by one of the Britons. He took it with him to the final battle against Paulinus, where it was dropped or discarded during the rout - perhaps in the fight around the wagons. It was then interred with all the rest of the battle debris, only to be unearthed more than 1750 years later during the construction of the Grand Junction canal. As a large and recognisable item, it alone was preserved.

So - is there anywhere close to the probable find spot that might fit with our battle site description? I think it might (I've removed the canal from this plan):

 

Looks like a defile, 900m-ish wide, narrowish 'plain' in front. No sign of woods behind, but patterns of forestation etc etc. There is the problem of the Bulbourne, which would have risen much higher before the canal altered things - but if this was midsummer it may have been a fairly inconsiderable stream, or even completely dry.

---ooo000ooo---

I've been trying to find a bit more information about this site (14/2/2016). As Deryk mentioned above, there have been surveys of the area around Cow Roast, with some tempting finds and some less tempting possibilities.

This paper gives a good summary of (official) finds so far.

With regard to the Coolus E helmet, the paper notes that the stated find date is unlikely, as no work on the canal was ongoing in 1813; 1798-99 is more likely. It estimates the find spot as 'Grand Junction Canal, in the vicinity of Dudswell Locks', which looks about right. This would possibly have been wet ground even if the stream was low, and debris left here (perhaps following the hypothetical rout!) might have been lost in pools or muddy areas.

The paper also states that excavations at the 'Esso site' (presumably now the Texaco garage on the south-east edge of the village, backing onto the canal) turned up an iron pilum head, together with some British coins. The Fendley House orchard across the road turned up a bone sword grip.

There's an intriguing mention of a 'putative temple in the field near Newground... known only from an aerial photograph'. I've been wary of the ideal of battle memorials.

There's also a suggestion (on p.8) that the area to the north of Cow Roast (between Aldbury and Tring Station, maybe?) was wooded - the timber later used as charcoal for iron smelting. Could be Tacitus's 'closed in the rear by a wood'?

However, there has been quite a lot of surveying in this area, including geophysics, and nothing of a more obviously military nature seems to have turned up. Most of the finds relate to the iron smelting works that was apparently established here in the later 1st century - although much of it seems to have been deliberately dumped in pits.

There's a brief point about 'metal detectorists... active in the fields around Newground Farm' turning up coins and 'small metal objects' - possibly this is the source of the 'arrowheads and sling bullets' that appeared on ebay?

I also had another look at Steve Kaye's last paper (2015) - the site is given as 'New Ground Road' and listed as numbers 10 and 11 on his list of plausible locations, which is reassuring. Interestingly, he suggests that the Roman water supply for this site (and another possibility at Tring Station) could have come from the Thame headwaters, to the north-west, rather than from the Bulbourne.

---ooo000oo---

Next a map with railway and canal marked with what appear to be the sites of the military finds, helmet, and the rumoured detector finds of slingshot etc:

one, from 1766, showing the valley around Newground prior to the construction of the canal and railway. As you can see, the Bulbourne rises rather higher and a little to the north-east. The red line follows the approximate course of Akeman Street. But there's a very interesting-looking 'defile' feature just east of Wigginton, and if the area just to the north was wooded this would 'close' it off quite neatly from the rear:

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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:03:37 +0000
Dunstable http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/168-dunstable http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/168-dunstable Proposed by: Nathan Ross
Date: April 23rd, 2012
Grid Ref: TBA
Lat/Long: 51.8625,-0.464859
Starting scenario: Starting Scenario: Along Watling Street moving out from London
Original URL: https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread-16575-post-274363.html#pid274363

 

While it appear, after much debate, that the western route out of London would be the more likely, I think it's still at least possible that Paulinus retreated northwards up Watling street, and that the battle site might be located in that direction. I've long favoured the Dunstable area - only 30 miles from London, where the road crosses the chalk escarpment of the Chilterns, and only a day's cart-travel from St Albans, last known sighting of Boudica and co.

Looking over some maps of the area, I've tried to match the topography with the description given in Tacitus(to recap: "He chose a position in a defile [faux] with a wood [silva] behind him. He established there could be no enemy except at his front, where there was an open plain [aperta planities] with no fear of ambush. Then he drew up his regular troops in close array [frequens ordinibus], with the light-armed auxiliaries at the flanks and the cavalry massed on the wings. By contrast, unprecedented numbers of British troops and followers paraded wildly everywhere. Their confidence was such that they brought their families to witness the victory, installing them in carts at the extreme border of the field [campus]."

Steve Kaye's article in British Archaeology provides a handy summary of the required terrain features, principally:

1. a defile approximately 1km wide set within an elevated feature. The defile's sides must rise at least 30m above the bottom and have a steep slope (generally over 8°), and must extend at least 1.5km in both directions to discourage mass flanking movements by the Britons.

2. an adjacent, lower elevation, plain (less than 4° of slope) or extensive flat area with gentle slopes, at least 1km across to accommodate the British horde and wagons.

The site I have selected lies on Watling street itself, one mile south-east of the junction with the Iknield way, on the edge of the suburbs of modern Dunstable.

Here it is (approximately) on Google Maps

And on Bing

The elevation of the road rises on a gentle slope between 150 and 160 metres. The southern approach is closed in by slopes on either side of the road, giving a 'defile' feature; in the centre, the ground opens slightly giving an open plain just over 1km broad (north-west of Turnpike Farm and Lodge Farm). Beyond this, the slopes of the Chilterns close on either side, giving steeper escarpments rising to 210 metres elevation on either side. The north-eastern escarpment in particular is quite steep, and might approximate the 'rampart' feature mentioned by Tacitus.

This terrain appears to me very similar to that described by Tacitus, and meets the criteria set out in Steve's article. The narrow gap in the hills, now centred on the school buildings, would allow for a Roman line of approximately 750-850 metres width.

The 'defile' to the south-east would constrict the British approach to the site, and a mass of carts placed here would effectively block the retreat from the battlefield.

Tacitus mentions a wood to the rear of the Roman position - this area is now covered by suburban housing, but it's not impossible that the area was forested in antiquity (as it apparently was in medieval times!). Dunstable itself was not a major settlement, but there is a water source just beyond it. A Roman marching camp placed here could be well supplied and protected.

Anyway, in true armchair-doodler style I've made a rough sketch to illustrate my idea of the battle plan:



The legionary force holds a  line with the left anchored on Watling street and the right protected by the steep escarpment below Dame Ellen's Woods. Auxiliary light troops on the flanking slopes, and cavalry on the high ground to either side. The British force moving up from St Albans would bunch in the shallow valley around Jockey Farm - from here the Roman force would be visible at the top of the slope ahead.

British attack: the slopes on either side would funnel the advance towards the legionary front line. The British apparently advanced 'at a walk', but they'd have to cover around 2 kms so that would be fine. A last rush once they reach the school playing field would bring them up to the Roman line (wasn't it Waterloo that was 'won on the playing fields of Eton?  :wink: ). Meanwhile, the cavalry deploy along the hilltops to flank the British.

Roman counter-attack: the 'wedge' (whatever it actually was!) would drive out from the Roman centre to split the British force. At the same time, the cavalry move down the lateral valleys to attack the British on the flanks. The British retreat in confusion, but are blocked by the mass of carts and civilians closing the neck of the 'defile'.

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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:56:05 +0000
Starting Scenario: Along Watling Street moving out from London http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/167-starting-scenario-along-watling-street-moving-out-from-london http://mons-graupius.co.uk/index.php/boudica-s-last-battle/167-starting-scenario-along-watling-street-moving-out-from-london The Watling Street Hypothesis underlies a number of suggestions for the site. This scenario provided by Nathan Ross outlines a variant of the original.

 

1. Paulinus brought his whole force down to London, rather than doing Webster's supposed 'cavalry dash'. The latter phase of the campaign therefore begins from London, rather than heading off into the Midlands.

2. He needed a position to withdraw to after evacuating London, as he was escorting a large number of civilian refugees. This place needed to be in allied territory, within scouting distance of the rebel advance, on a communication route to potential reinforcements from the west and the north, and close to a defensible position. St Albans meets all these requirements - and why would Tacitus have mentioned it if it wasn't significant?

3. Remaining close to St Albans allowed Paulinus to block or intercept attempts by the rebels to move back towards their own territory via the Iknield Way, which they would have needed to do at some point in order to plant winter crops and avoid famine the following year.

4. Once the rebels approached St Albans, Paulinus pulled back once again and took up a position in the Chilterns, either blocking the route directly (at Dunstable) or threating the rebels from the west (at Tring). Either location would have allowed him to preserve his lines of communication with reinforcements from the west or north. Sited on chalk uplands and on a watershed, both sites would have provided a dry battlefield with water supply for both the Britons (from one direction) and the Romans (on the other), and an easy route of approach for the Britons after they sacked St Albans (which is only 10-12 miles away)

5. By positioning himself at either location, Paulinus would have left Boudica's rebels no option but to confront him directly.

 

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mike@mons-graupius.co.uk (Mike Haseler) Boudica's last battle Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:41:54 +0000