The Romans in Scotland: The History and Legacy of Ancient Rome’s Northernmost Campaigns

Share this Ebook

The Romans in Scotland: The History and Legacy of Ancient Rome's Northernmost Campaigns

English | November 22, 2020 | ISBN: N/A | ASIN: B08P2DSQTV | Rar (PDF, AZW3) | 3.20 MB

*Includes pictures
*Includes excerpts of ancient accounts
*Includes a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents

“[The Romans] thinking that it might be some help to the allies [Britons], whom they were forced to abandon, constructed a strong stone wall from sea to sea, in a straight line between the towns that had been there built for fear of the enemy, where Severus also had formerly built a rampart.” – Bede’s description of Hadrian’s Wall in the Middle Ages

Over 1,100 years before William the Conqueror became the King of England after the Battle of Hastings, Julius Caesar came, saw, and conquered part of “Britannia,” setting up a Roman province with a puppet king in 54 BCE. In the new province, the Romans eventually constructed a military outpost overlooking a bridge across the River Thames. The new outpost was named Londinium, and it covered just over two dozen acres.

The Romans were master builders, and much of what they built has stood the test of time. Throughout their vast empire they have left grand structures, from the Forum and Pantheon in Rome to the theatres and hippodromes of North Africa and the triumphal gates in Anatolia and France. Wherever they went, the Romans built imposing structures to show their power and ability, and one of their most impressive constructions was built on the northernmost fringe of the empire. Shortly after Emperor Hadrian came to power in the early 2nd century CE, he decided to seal off Scotland from Roman Britain with an ambitious wall stretching from sea to sea. To accomplish this, the wall had to be built from the mouth of the River Tyne – where Newcastle stands today – 80 Roman miles (76 miles or 122 kilometers) west to Bowness-on-Solway. The sheer scale of the job still impresses people today, and Hadrian’s Wall has the advantage of being systematically studied and partially restored.

Related post:  France and the American Civil War: A Diplomatic History

Of course, the masterful architecture of the wall belied the fact that it was built for defense, because Scotland (known as Caledonia to the Romans) was never fullyconquered or incorporated into the Roman Empire, a fact that many modern Scots remain quite proud of today. While the Romans made several efforts to subdue Scotland, it is not entirely clear whether their failure to complete the subjugation of the northern part of the British Isles was due to the ferocity of the Caledonian/Pictish tribesmen or whether the Romans simply came to the conclusion that the region had far too little to offer in the way of resources (either minerals, metals, or slaves) to warrant repeated major campaigns. Scotland in the 1st century CE had no settlements of any size, so profitable trade was not easy to establish, and so, did not offer any major motivation for military conquest. A further disincentive to any Roman general looking to achieve a decisive or speedy military victory was the terrain. Unlike much of England which, although forested, was relatively flat and so allowed for roads to be built, Scotland was both wooded and mountainous.

Scotland today, as then, is essentially divided into four distinct regions. What is now known as the Borders was during the time of the Romans densely wooded, and the Southern Uplands added to the obstacles faced by any military force moving into the area. The second area, the Lowlands, was crisscrossed by a number of major rivers, including the Clyde, the Forth and the Tay. These permanent geographical features made north-to-south travel especially problematic. The areas around the rivers were also marshy, making any building extra difficult and risky. The Highlands, as the region’s name suggests, is mountainous, and travel was restricted to the few mountain passes through the glens. These glens were ideal places for ambushes, which is something the Romans learned the hard way.

Related post:  Constantine: Roman Emperor, Christian Victor