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'cities and towns, but in country villas and houses, many of them magnificent in appearance and extent, traversed in every direction by excellent roads, its rivers crossed by strong and handsome bridges, forming a communication between districts, some of which were remarkable for their manufactures, while others were covered with well-cultivated farms, from which large supplies of corn were sent annually to Gaul, and even, it is said, to Italy. We do not share Camden's faith in Romano-British vineyards. But the great civiliser, agriculture, must have made immense progress by the time the Britain of Boadicea had become, through its annona or corn tribute, an exporting country, and Julian could be sending 800 ships backwards and forwards in one year for British grain. Roman capitalists, indeed, seem soon to have speculated on the capabilities of the island as a field for profitable investment. For among the minor causes of Boadicea's insurrection is mentioned the sudden violence with which Seneca had called in a loan he had forced upon the chiefs against their will. Roman usury appears afterwards to have fattened on the prosperity of the settlers. In the fourth century, a brother of Ausonius the poet is said to have amassed an immense fortune by lending out money at interest in Britain. Facts of this kind bespeak great national progress. But among the Excerpta de Britannia ex Scriptoribus Græcis atque Latinis, in Mr. Petrie's Monumenta Historica Britannica,' they are scarcely visible; and when we look to written history for an explanation of the remains which are constantly reappearing from underground, it is but little that written history has to say. Poussin's mot at Rome, on gathering a handful of earth,Questa é Roma antica,- applies to other places besides Rome, and with a still stronger meaning.
The Romans made their first attempt on Britain A. c. 55, under Julius Cæsar; and finally abandoned their conquest A. D. 436, during the reign of Valentinian. Their connexion with the country, therefore, lasted five hundred years. The space was long enough for a distinct and permanent impression. But in the minds of most people the whole of it is confounded with the darkness which preceded and the desolation which followed it. The space begins with a blank of a hundred years (longa oblivio). Tacitus treats Cæsar, who left behind him neither garrison nor settlement, as little more than the discoverer of the island. Claudius (auctor operis), A. D. 43, set about reducing it in earnest yet neither he nor Nero appear to have seriously advanced beyond the Humber. The reigns of Vespasian and Domitian were distinguished, by the eight years' successes of Agricola, beginning A. D. 78. But the distant
Horsley's Britannia Romana.
island formed so small a speck in the Roman Empire, -not much more than New Zealand in our own,-that we should probably have known little of Agricola or his conquests but for the good fortune, which gave him Tacitus for a son-in-law. It is plain, however, in the general (says Horsley), that the Roman power was at its greatest height in Britain when "Agricola resigned; and that under the two following reigns of Nerva and Trajan, this island was almost wholly neglected' (perdomita Britannia et statim amissa). As the remoter parts of Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland are supposed to be the only places where the Roman armies had not at that time penetrated, their power might perhaps be never spread over a greater geogra phical breadth of country; but surely it must have been striking deeper root from year to year, and strengthening gradually in all those interests which characterise its provincial sway. The interval of forty years between the landing of Aulus Plautius and the campaigns of Agricola, is far too short a period for the porticus et balnea et conviviorum elegantia attributed by Tacitus to the Romanised Britons, to be much more than a sarcasm on the servile affectation of the barbarians; especially when we compare it with Xiphiline's picture of the life of the nonRomanised Britons, as Severus found them a hundred years later, in tents, naked, and with women in common. succeeded in A. D. 117, and was saluted by his poet Florus,'Ego nolo Cæsar esse, Ambulare per Brittannos, Scythicas pati 'pruinas,'- as a natural combination. His reign follows on a total blank of more than thirty years, unenlightened by a single inscription, the first of a series of successive gaps, stretching in all upwards of two hundred years, and making a formidable chasm out of the five hundred that the connexion lasted.
Horsley claims, for the first or historical book of his 'Britan'nia Romana,' the credit of its being the first history we have of Britain which can be relied on. 'I may venture to call it the original and true history of our island.' These chasms in its annals would be much more to be regretted, in case the historical contents of this first book were of the substantial value Horsley supposes. In truth, very little information on what posterity cares most to know, the amount of art and civilisation which the Romans had planted in Britain, was to be gathered from professed historians. It is but small compensation, that the construction of the Walls by Hadrian and Antoninus, the battles round them, invasions from without, insurrections from within, conjectural years of turbulence and quiet, a proverbial fertility in tyrants, the deaths of Severus, A. D. 211, and of Constantius, inter Divos relatus, A. D. 306, both at York, military revolts and
contentions for the purple, may be all more or less faithfully recorded, — till the curtain drops over an apparent independence successfully asserted, and assistance afterwards supplicated for in vain. Most history, as hitherto written, has been the history of wars; and Anglo-Roman history has been mainly that of wars with the non-Romanised Britons. Our present inquiry, on the contrary, concerns peace and the works of peace, and the progressive influence of the Roman settlers on the Romanising population. The Romans here are seen in a new aspect, the memorials of which are not in books. From the departure of Constantine, the son of Constantius, for Rome, to become its first Christian emperor, down to the final withdrawal of the Roman legions from the island, there elapsed a period of nearly a century and a half. But long before the close, there were ominous signs that provincial Britain was sharing in the general decay of the empire. As the legions were gradually removed, it became clear that, whatever else the Romans had taught her, they had destroyed her native courage, and not relied sufficiently on her fidelity, to teach her the necessary art of self-defence. The storming of Rome by Alaric so shook the distant provinces, that the Saxon Chronicle says, After this, the Romans never ruled in Britain.' And nine years later (A. D. 418), an entry notices the first fleeing of the settlers from the misery to come. This year the Romans 'collected all the treasures that were in Britain; and some they hid in the earth, so that no one since has been able to find them; and some they carried with them to Gaul.' Meantime a ruling population must have been growing up of miscellaneous extraction, with provincial interests of their own, though with more or less of Roman training.
South of the Wall of Hadrian, however, the process of Romanising will have had ample time to become complete, both in character and appearance, before the withdrawal of a single soldier; so much so, that probably an Italian walking through the streets of Londinium or Verulamium might imagine himself in one of the cities of his native land. It was a part of the Roman policy to establish the troops who had effected the conquest in possession of the vanquished territory; and we learn by inscriptions and other records, that each legion and each auxiliary troop, held the same spot during the whole period that the Romans remained masters of the island. The inscriptions are always found in greatest abundance about the military towns; and they are especially valuable for the light they throw on the disposition and movements of the troops. Hundreds of them still lie buried under the ground which will some day add to our knowledge. The first Roman town in the island which was
dignified with the privileges of a colonia, Camulodunum (Colchester) was founded by disbanded veterans, perhaps those of the ninth legion. The Roman legions may indeed be considered as the principal colonists; they built the towns and stations, and have left their name on the bricks of which they were constructed. In many of these towns they were the chief proprietors of the land, which, as we find from their monumental inscriptions, passed from one generation to another by inheritance. When not engaged in war, they were actively employed in public works, and in cultivating the arts of peace. With their families and their relations and friends, they formed the mass of the inhabitants of many of the towns, especially of those on the frontiers.
The inscriptions which are continually found in excavating on these sites, and of which an interesting collection is given in the works at the head of the present article furnish an important supplement to the meagre details left us by the ancient historians. It appears from Tacitus that the four legions which went into Britain under Claudius, were the second, ninth, fourteenth, and twentieth. Of these the ninth was nearly destroyed in the war with Boadicea: we are told that it was recruited, and we know that it acted a conspicuous part in the Caledonian war under Agricola, after which we hear no more of it in this country. The fourteenth legion was recalled under Nero, sent back to Britain by Vitellius, and finally recalled in the reign of Vespasian. But another legion, the sixth, was brought over by Hadrian, and this, with the second and twentieth, constituted the permanent garrison of the island. Agricola himself was commander of the twentieth legion, and it was probably the one most actively employed in the conquest of the Silures; it was stationed at Deva (Chester), where it has left a multitude of memorials. Nor are the traces less numerous of the second legion, which was stationed at Isca (Caerleon). The sixth legion had its head-quarters at Eburacum (York). We see at once the reason of this disposition of forces. The great military stations at Chester and Caerleon commanded at the same time the mountainous districts of Wales, and the coasts where the Irish pirates were accustomed to make their descents; while the former and that at York held in check the Caledonians, and the more turbulent British tribes on their border. Among the very numerous inscriptions found in the North, we trace the detachments as severally employed in the Caledonian wars, or in building the Walls and forts on the Caledonian frontier. All three legions served in Scotland under Lollius Urbicus, and co-operated in building the Wall of Anto
ninus, along the line of which many notices of them have been discovered, indicating the portions erected by each. Of the inscriptions comprised in Stuart's Caledonia Romana, thirteen commemorate the labours of the second legion, seven those of the sixth, and six those of the twentieth. An altar from near Carlisle, engraved in the work of Mr. Bruce, commemorates the exploits of two officers of the sixth legion, in the war against the Caledonians between the two Walls. On the line of Hadrian's Wall. inscriptions belonging to the second legion have been found, among other instances, at Milking Gap, between Borcovicus and Vindolana, at Headswood, at Bewcastle (Apiatorium), and at Netherby (Castra exploratorum). The sixth legion figures at Birdoswald (Amboglanna), at Tynemouth (Ostia Vedra), and elsewhere; while among inscriptions appropriated to the twentieth legion, we may mention those from Cawfield's Craigs, from Chapel House, and from Middleby (Blatum Bulgium). One inscription at York mentions the ninth legion, and several found there refer to the second. One relating to the fourteenth legion was unearthed at Wroxeter, in Shropshire (Uriconium).
When we think of the Romans in Britain, we must not imagine that the mass of the conquerors and colonists were Romans in anything but the general appellation. On the contrary, the island was taken possession of by a strangely mixed population, and we can hardly figure to ourselves the singular physiognomy which it must have presented. The large garrisons of York, Chester, and Caerleon, were Romans, and Roman blood must have predominated in those and some other places; but the greater number of the Roman towns throughout the island were occupied by people draughted from almost every nation which acknowledged the supremacy of Rome. Thus, at Cirencester, there was a troop of Indians and another of Thracians, both cavalry. A party of Thracian cavalry was stationed at Uriconium in Shropshire. The troops stationed at Coccium in Lancashire, were Sarmatians and Asturians from Spain. But the best notion of this singular mixture of nations will be obtained from the following list of the military stations on Hadrian's Wall as given in the Notitia, corrected for the most part from the monuments by Horsley and Mr. Petrie and Mr. Bruce.
The tribune of the fourth cohort of the Lingones at Segedunum (Wallsend).
The tribune of the cohort of the Cornovii at Pons Elii (Newcastle). The prefect of the first ala (or wing) of the Astures at Condercum (Benwell).
The tribune of the first cohort of the Frixagi at Vindobala (Rutchester).