Book 1, Chapter 4, 78 AD to 306 AD – Agricola – Continued
In A.D. 120, however, the incursions of the Caledonians, and some indications of unsettledness in the south, called for the presence of the emperor Hadrian. No record exists of his exploits, but from various medals it appears that he drove back the northern tribes, and constructed a rampart and ditch from the Tyne to the Solway Frith, much stronger than that made by Agricola between the Clyde and the Frith of Forth. The remains of Hadrian’s Wall still exist, and attest its massive strength. It was fortified by castles and towns at intervals. Eighteen years later (A.D. 138) in the reign of Antoninus Pius, the then governor of Britain, Lollius Urbicus, penetrated more northwards, and reconstructed Agricola’s line of defence, the remains of which are now locally known as Graham’s Dyke.
Various intrigues and struggles for the imperial dignity diverted attention from Britain during the next fifty years, excepting so far as the troops stationed there sided with various claimants, and especially excepting one of the prefects of the island, Clodius Albinus, who disputed the possession of the purple with Severus, but was defeated and slain in a great battle near Lyons. After the accession of Severus, he divided the government of Britain between two prefects, so as to diminish their power and influence. Virius Lupus, who ruled the northern part, was sorely pressed by the Caledonians and the Maetae, who dwelt on either side of the wall and whom Dion. Cassius, the historian of the period, thus describes “The two greatest tribes among the Britons are the Caiedonii and the Maetae, for even the names of all the other tribes have in a manner merged in these two. The Mantas dwell close to the wall which divides the island into two parts, and the Caledonii live beyond them. Each of these people inhabits wild mountains, where there is no water, and desert places and marshes, where they live without walls or cities. Neither do they practice husbandry, but live by pasturage, or the chase, and on berries, which grow in the woods, for they never taste fish, although their lakes and rivers furnish an inexhaustible supply. The government of these tribes is democratical, and they delight above all things in pillage. They fight from chariots, which are drawn by small, swift horses, they fight also on foot, run with great speed, and are most resolute when compelled to stand. Their arms consist of a shield and a short spear, which has a brazen knob at the extremity of the shaft, that when shaken it may terrify the enemy by its noise. They use daggers also. They are capable of enduring hunger, thirst, and hardships of every description, for they will plunge into the marshes, and remain there several days, with only their heads above the water. When they are in the woods they subsist on bark and roots, and they prepare for all emergences a certain kind of food, of which, if they eat only so much as the size of a bean, they neither hunger nor thirst.”
Chapter 4, Agricola
Chapter 4, Roman Roads and Towns
Chapter 4, Roman Memorial of Death
Categories: Book 1