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