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THE THIRD BOOK
HO I have sufficiently demonstrated in the two former Books how fabulous, yea, how portentous the memoirs are which the writers of the British affairs have delivered concerning their ancestors, and have also shewn by plain and clear evidences that the ancient Britains had their originals from the Gauls, yet because I perceive I have to do with men that pertinaciously adhere to a manifest falshood rather than with such as lapse by rashness or ignorance, I thought it worth my labour if, out of writers of great authority amongst all learned men, I took the edge off such hair-brain’d mens boldness, and by that means supply’d good men and lovers of truth with sufficient arms to restrain and curb their daring and affronting impudence. In the rank of such classick authors, I judge, Julius Caesar deserves the first place, both for his diligence in searching, his certainty in knowing, and sincerity in declaring things to others. He, in the fifth Book of his Commentaries concerning the Gallick War, writing of Britain, says thus:
2. The inner part of Britain is inhabited by such as they themselves record to be born in the island, and the marine coasts by such as came out of Belgium, either to make incursions or invasions, and after the war was ended they continued in the possessions they had gained, and were called by the names of the cities from whence they came. The country is very populous and well-stored with houses much like those of the Gauls. They have great store of cattle; they use brass for money, or iron rings, weighed at a certain rate. In its Mediterranean parts there is found great quantity of tin, and in the mountainous parts iron, though, but in a small quantity, their brass is brought in by other nations. They have all sorts of trees that they have in Gallia, excepting the beech and the firr. Their religion will not suffer them to eat either hare, hen or goose, notwithstanding they have of them all, as well for novelty as variety. The country is more temperate, and not so cold, as Gallia. The island lyeth triangular, whereof one side fronteth Gallia, on which side that angle wherein Kent stands points to the east, where almost all ships arrive from France. And the lower angle to the south. This side containeth above 500 miles. The other angle lyeth toward Spain, and the western coast in that circuit, where also Ireland lyeth, which is an island half as big as England (as some think) and as far distant from it as Gallia. In the midway between England and Ireland lyeth an island called Angelsey, besides many other small islands, of which some write that in winter time, for 30 days together, they have a continual night, whereof we learned nothing by inquiry, only we found by certain measures of water that the nights in England were shorter than in the Continent. The length of this side, according to the opinion of the inhabitants, containeth 700 miles. The third side lyeth to the North and open sea, saving that this angle doth somewhat point toward Germany. This side is thought to contain 800 miles. And so the whole island containeth in circuit 3000 miles. Of all the inhabitants, they of Kent are most courteous and civil, all their country bordering upon the sea, and little differing from the fashion of Gallia. Most of the inland people sow no corn, but live upon milk and flesh. They are clothed with skins, and have their faces painted with a blew colour to the the end they may seem more terrible in fight. They wear the hair on their heads long, having all other parts of their body shaven except their head and upper lip. Their wives are common to ten or twelve, especially brethren with brethren, and parents with children, but the children that are born are accounted his unto whom the mother was first given in marriage.
And awhile after he says:
3. By these understood that (Verulam), Cassivellanus’ town, was not far off, fortified with woods and bogs, and well stored with men and cattle. The Britains call that a town when they fortifie woody fastnesses with a ditch and a rampire [rampart], and so make it a place of retreat when they stand in fear of incursions from their enemies. Thither Caesar marched with his army, and found it well fortified both by art and nature. And, as he assaulted it in two several places, the enemy stood to it awhile, but at least were not able to bear the brunt and fury of the assailants, but made their escape a back way out of the town. Thus he took it and found therein great store of cattle, and in the outset slew and took prisoners many of the Britains.
The site of Brittany and the inhabitants thereof, tho they have been already described by sundry writers, I purpose here to declare, not to compare them with careful ingenuity, but because it was then first thorowly subdued, so that such things as our ancestors, without perfect discovery, have polished with pen shall now be faithfully set down upon knowledge. Britanny, of all the islands known to the Romans the greatest, coasteth by east upon Germany, by west towards Spain, and it hath France on the south, northward no land lying against it, but only a vast and broad sea beating about it. The figure and fashion of all Britanny by Livy, of the ancients, and Fabius Rusticus of the modern the most eloquent authors, is likened to a long dish or two-edged axe, and so is that part shapen indeed on this side Caledonia. Whereupon the fame went of the whole, as it seemeth. But there is, beside, a huge vast tract of ground which runneth beyond unto the furthermost point, growing narrow and sharp like a wedge. This point of the utmost sea the Roman fleet then first of all doubling, discovered Britanny to be an island, and withal found out and subdued the Isles of Orkney, before that time never known. Thyle [Thule] also was discovered at aloof [from a distance], which snow hither and winter had covered. The sea thereabout they affirm to be dull and heavy for the oar, and not to be raised, as others are, with winds, belike [probably] because land and mountains are rare, which minister cause and matter of tempests, and because a deep mass of continual sea is slower stirred to rage. To examine the nature of the ocean and tides pertaineth not to this work, and many have done it before. One thing I will add and may safely avouch, that the sea no where in the world rageth and ruleth more freely, carrying by violence so much river water hither and thither, and is not content to flow and ebb so far as the banks, but inserteth and windeth it self into the land, shooting into the mountains and cliffs, as to his own chanel.
5. Now, what manner of men the first inhabitants of Britanny were, foreign, brought in, or born to the land as among a barbarous people, is not certainly known. Their complexions are different, and thence may some conjectures be taken. For the red hair of the dwellers in Caledonia, and mighty limbs, import a German descent. The coloured countenance of the Silures and hair most commonly curled, and site against Spain, seem to induce a belief that the old Spaniards passed the sea and possessed those places. The nearest to France likewise resemble the French, either because they retain something of the race from which they descended, or that in countries butting together the same aspects of the heaven do yeild the same complexion of bodies. But generally it is most likely the French, being nearest, did people the land. In their ceremonies and superstitious persuasions there is to be seen an apparent conformity. The language differeth not so much, like boldness to challenge and leap into dangers. When dangers are come, like fear in refusing them, saving that the Britains make more shew of courage, as being not mollifi’d yet by long peace. For the French also were once, as we read, redoubted in war, till such time as, giving themselves over to peace and idleness, cowardise crept in and shipwrack was made both of manhood and liberty together. And so it is also befaln to those of the Britains which were subdued of old; the rest remain such as the French were before.
6. Their strength in the field consisteth in footmen; some countries make war in wagons also. The greater personage guideth the wagon, his waiters and followers fight out of the same. Heretofore they were govern’d by Kings, now they are drawn by petty princes into parties and factions. And that is the greatest help we have against those puissant nations, that they have no common council together. Seldom it chanceth that two or three states meet and concur to repulse the common danger. So, whilst one by one fighteth, all are subdued. The sky is very cloudy, and much given to rain without extremity of cold, the length of days much above the measure of our climate, the nights light, and, in the furthermost part of the island, so short that between the going out and coming in of the day the space is hardly perceived, and, when clouds do not hinder, they affirm that the sun-shine is seen in the night, and that it neither setteth nor riseth, but passeth along, because, belike, the extream and plain parts of the earth project a low shadow and raise not the darkness to an heigth, so the night falleth under the sky and stars. The soil, setting aside the olive, the vine and the rest, which are proper to warmer countries, taketh all kind of grain and beareth it in abundance. It shooteth up quickly and ripeneth slowly. The cause of them both is the same, the overmuch moisture of the soil and air. Britany beareth gold and silver and other metals to inrich the conqueror. The Ocean bringeth forth pearl also, not orient but duskish and wan, which proceedeth, as some do suppose, for lack of skill in the gatherers. For in the Red Sea they are pulled out panting and alive from the rocks, but in Britanny, cast out by the sea and so taken up. For my part, I do rather beleive the nature of the country not to yeild it than that our covetousness could not find out the way to gather it aright.
7. The Britains endure levies of men and money, and all other burdens imposed by the Empire, patiently and willingly, if insolencies be forborn. Indignities they cannot abide, being as yet subdued to be subjects, not slaves. The civil wars ensued, and bandyings of men of great quality against the Republick of Rome, and long after that lay Britany forgotten, even in peaceable times. Augustus termed it policy, and chiefly Tiberius, so to do. That Caius had a meaning to invade Britanny, it is certainly known, but his rash running head and hasty repentance, and chiefly his great attempts against Germany turning to nothing, averted that purpose. Claudius did first with effect prosecute the matter, transporting legions and aids, and assuming Vespasian into the action, which was the beginning of the greatness whereunto he after attained. Some countries were subdued, some Kings were taken, and Vespasian made known to the world.
8. The first Lieutenant General was Aulus Plautus, them Ostorius Scapula, both excellent warriers. And so, little by little, was the nearest part of the island reduced to the form of a province, and, besides, a colony of old souldiers established there. Certain cities were also bestowed in pure gift upon King Cogidunus (who remained most faithful even in our days) according to an old custom anciently received of the Romans, to use even Kings themselves for instruments of bondage. Then Didius Gallus succeeded, who kept that which his predecessors had gotten, and builded some few castles further in the land to win by that means a fame and credit to his office. After Didius succeeded Verantius, who died within one year. Then Suetonius Paulinus for two years space behaved himself fortunately, subduing the nations and establishing garisons. Upon confidence whereof, going to assail the Isle of Man, which ministred supply to the rebels, he disfurnished the country behind and laid it open to all opportunities of the enemy.
9. For through the absence of the Lieutenant, the Britains, free of fear, began to discourse the miseries of bondage, to lay their injuries together and aggravate them by constructions and inference, as that their patience had profited them nothing save only to draw heavier burdens upon themselves, as men willing to bear them; That, whereas in former times they had only one King, now there were two thrust upon them, the Lieutenant to suck their blood, the Procurator their substance, whose disagreeing was the torment of the subjects, and their agreement their undoing, the one vexing by souldiers and captains, the other by wrongs and indignities. That now their covetousness and lust lay hold, without exception, on all. And, whereas in field he that spoileth is commonly stronger, now were they by cowards and weaklings, for the most part, dispossessed of their houses, bereft of their children, injoyned to yeild soldiers for other mens behoof, as though they were men that knew to do nothing else save only to die for their country. For otherwise what a small handful of souldiers were come over, if the Britains would fall to reckon themselves. That Germany had so shakt off the yoke, having no Ocean sea, but only a river for their defence. That their cause of taking arms was just: their wives and children, their parents and country. That the Romans had nothing to move them to war but their own covetousness and wanton lust. And that they would doubtless depart, as Julius Caesar had done, if the Britains would imitate the virtues of their progenitors and not be dismayed with the doubtful event of one skirmish or two. That men in misery had more courage and vehemency to attempt, more constancy to continue, and now even the gods seem’d to pity the poor Britains estate, having sent the Roman captain out of the way and consined the army, as it were, into another island. That now being assembled to advise and deliberate together, they had attained the hardest point in an action of that nature, wherein, without question, it were more danger to be taken consulting than doing.
10. With these and like speeches inciting one another, by common consent they resolve to take arms under the conduct of Voadicea, a lady of the blood of their Kings. For in matters of governing in chief they make no distinction of sex. And first pursuing the soldiers which lay divided in garisons, and winning the forts, they invaded (anon) the colony it self, as being the seat of their slavery. In sacking whereof, no kind of cruelty was omitted which either anger or the rage of victory might induce a barbarous people to practise. And unless, upon knowledge had of the revolt, Paulinus had come to succour with speed, Britany had then be lost, which with one prosperous battel he restored to her former obedience and patient bearing the yoke, some few keeping out and remaining arms, whom the guilt of the rebellion excluded from all hope of pardon, and some fear also of the Lieutenants private displeasure. Who, though otherwise a singular man, yet seemed to shew too much haughty and hard dealing toward those which yielded themselves, and to revenge, in a sort, his own injury. Whereupon Petronius Turpilianus was sent in his place as a more intreateable person and a stranger to their fault, and therefore more ready to receive their repentance. who having composed former troubles and daring no further, deliver’d to Trebellius Maximus the charge. Trebellius, a man unfit for action and altogether unexpert in service by a kind of courteous and mild regiment, kept the country in quiet. For now the Britains also had learned their good manners, not rudely to repulse the sugred assaults and flattr’ings of vices, and the disturbances of civil dissensions ministred a lawful excuse for his doing nothing. But the soldier, accustomed to warfare, wax’d wanton with ease and grew to be mutinous. Tribullius, by flying away and hiding himself, eschewed their first indignation, and anon resuming his place, without majesty, without authority, he ruled by way of intreaty and at his soldiers discretion. And so coming, as it were, to a capitulation, the army for licence to do what them listed, the captain for safety of his own life, the mutiny ended without any blood-shed. Vectius Bolanus succeeded him in place, and in the same looseness of discipline, the civil wars continuing still, like default against the enemy, like license in the camp, saving that Bolanus, a good honest man not odious for any crime, instead of obedience had gotten good-will.
11. But when as Vespasian, with the rest of the world, recovered Britanny also, great captains, good soldiers, were sent, and the hope of the enemy was greatly abated. For straightways Petilius Cerealis struck a terror into them by invading, upon his first entry, the Brigantes, the most populous state of the whole province. Many battels were fought, and some bloody, and the greatest part of the Brigantes were either conquered or wasted. And whereas Cerealis would doubtless have eclipsed the diligence and fame of another successor, Julius Frontinus, a great man, as he might well be called after that predecessor, sustained the charge with reputation and credit, subduing the puissant and warlike people of the Silures, where had, beside the valour of the enemy, to struggle with the straights and difficulties of the places themselves.
CICERO IN HIS EPISTLE TO TREBATIUS, IN THE 7th BOOK OF HIS FAMILIAR EPISTLES
I hear that in Britain there is neither gold nor silver. If that be so, yet I persuade thee to catch what thou canst and return speedily to us. but if we can attain our desire (without the help of Britain) do thou act so that thou mayst be reckoned among my familiar friends.
PAULUS OROSIUS, SPEAKING OF IRELAND, HATH THESE WORDS
This (Ireland), being the nearest island to Britain, is narrower in circuit or space of ground than it, but more commodious for temper of soil and air. It is inhabited by the nations of the Scots, The isle of Anglesey, or rather Man, is also near to it, an island not very large, but of a good soil, which is also inhabited by the Scots.
THE SAME AUTHOR SAYS
The conqueror Severus was drawn into Britain by the revolt of almost all his allies. After he had fought many great battels, he judged it best to separate and divide that part of the island which he had regained from the other unconquered nations by a wall. And for this end he made a great trench and a strong wall, fortified from the top with many towers, for the space of 130 mile from sea to sea.
Ado, the Archbishop of Vienna, speaks the same things almost word for word. The mistake of both in the number of miles is to be corrected, by writing 32 for 132 [sic].
12. OUT OF THE 35th CHAPTER OF SOLINUS
It (i.e., Britain) is environed with many isles, and those not unrenowned, whereof Ireland draweth nearest to it in bigness. It is an uncivil country by reason of the savage manners of the inhabitants, but otherwise so full of pasturage and cattle that, if their herds in summer time be not now and then restrained from feeding, they would run a great danger of over-eating themselves. There are no snakes there, and but few birds. The people are inhospitable and warlike. when they have overcome their enemies they first besmear their faces with the blood of the slain. Right and wrong, good and evil, all is one to them. If a woman be delivered of a man-child, she lays his first meat upon her husbands sword and, putting it softly in his mouth, giveth him the first handsel [morsel] of his food upon the very point of the weapon, praying (according to the manner of the country) that he may not otherwise come to his end than in battel and amongst arms. They that love to be fine do trim the hilts of their swords with the teeth of sea-calves, for they make them as white and clear as ivory. The men do chiefly glory in the beauty of their armour. There is not a bee amongst them, and if a man bring of the dust or the little stones from thence and throw them among bee-hives, the swarms forsake their combs. The sea that is between Ireland and Britain is stormy and rough most part of the year, so that it can hardly be sailed over but a few days in summer time. They sail in keels of wicker done over with neats-leather. How long soever their passage continueth, the passengers abstain from meat all the while. Such as have thoroughly examined it have esteemed the bredth of that narrow sea to be 120 miles. A tempestuous sea also divides the islands of the Silures from the coast that the Britains inhabited, the men of which island keep their old customs even to this day. They utterly refuse buying and selling for money, but barter one commodity for another, providing things necessary rather by exchange than ready money. They worship the gods devoutly. As well the women as the men boast of their knowledge of fore-telling things to come. The Isle of Thanet is beaten upon by the French Sea, and is divided from Britain Sea, and is divided from Britain with a very narrow strait. It is happy in corn fields, and a fat soil and healthful not only to its inhabitants butto others also, forasmuch as there is no snake bred thee, the earth thereof, to what place soever it is carried from thence, killeth that vermin.
13. OUT OF THE THIRD BOOK OF HERODIAN,
TRANSLATED INTO LATIN BY POLITIAN
But Severus made delays on purpose, that he might not make his entrance into Rome poorly. For, being desirous of victory and of the sirname of Britannicus, he sends the ambassadors home before he had done his business, whilst he himself in the mean time with great diligence prepared all things necessary for war. His first and chief care was to erect bridges on the marish [marsh] grounds, that so his soldiers might stand safely and fight as upon firm ground. For many places in Britain are marishy because of the frequent inwashings of the Ocean. The barbarians themselves do swim through these moors or marishes, and run up to the ground in them (not regarding the mud) with their naked bodies. For they are ignorant of the use of garments to cloath them, but do girt their belly and their neck with iron, thinking that to be an ornament and sign of riches, as other barbarians do gold. And besides, they mark their bodies with various pictures and with the shapes of all manner of animals, and therefore they cloath not themselves, lest they should hide the painted outside of their bodyes. But they are a very warlike nation and greedy of slaughter, being contented only with a narrow shield and a lance. And moreover they wear a sword hanging down from their naked bodies, and are wholly ignorant of the use of coats of male or helmets, as judging them to be an hinderance and a luggage to them in passing over the marishes, whose vapors, being exhaled by heat, make the air there always dark and misty.
14. OUT OF THE 20th BOOK OF AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS
This was the state of affairs throughout Illyricum and the eastern parts. But in the consulship of Constantius, when matters were very often disturb’d in Britanny by the inroads of those barbarous nations the Scots and the Picts, and thereby peace was broken, and, the places near to their borders being wasted, which caused a fear to seize on the provinces, already tired with the many past slaughters, Caesar, then being in his winter quarters at Paris, was distracted with divers cares, for he feared to assist those transmarine people, as I related before, tho Constantius did, lest he should leave Gaul without a governor in the mean time. the Almains or Germans also then being very eager on cruelty and war. And therefore he was pleased to send Lupicinus thither to compose matters, who was as a Commissary of the army at that time, a stout man and very skilfull in military affairs, and prided himself much therein, so that he was very supercilious and haughty, and, to speak proverbially, as proud as a peacock. It was a great doubt whether he was more covetous or more cruel. He, having caused the vanguard to march, viz., the Lombards, the Hollanders and many of the Moesici, came to Bolongue in depth of winter. And embarking all his soldiers in those ships which he had provided, taking advantage of a favourable wind, he was wafted over to Sandwich, and so went to London, that there he might advise and be in readiness to act according to emergencies.
OUT OF HIS 26th BOOK
The Picts, Saxons, Scots and Attacotti vex the Britains with perpetual miseries.
15. OUT OF HIS 27th BOOK
It’s sufficient for me to say that at this time The Picts, being divided into two nations, the Dicalidones and the Vecturiones, and also the Attacotti, a warlike people, and the Scots, ranging several ways, spoiled many shires and countries. The Franks and Saxons, as they had opportunity to make inroads by land or sea, plundered the Gallican tracts near to them, and carried from thence mighty booties, firing all before them and killing those which they took captive. To hinder, this, Fortune favouring him, our warlike commander came into these extreme parts from Bolongue, which is divided from the land he was to make by the streights of the sea, which is wont to be raised by high tides, and again levell’d in a calm, like a plain, without any prejudice to the mariners. From thence he gently passed over to Richburrow, a safe harbor over against it, whence, being followed by the Batavi, Heruli and Jovii, trusting to their conquering numbers, he came to the old town of London, since called Augusta, where, dividing his troops, he set upon the predatory bands of his enemies, and they being loaden with spoils, he quickly overcame them and took away their prey both of prisoners and plunder, to their great damage. He restored all to the losers, except a small part bestowed on his wearied soldiers. Thus he re-entered the city in triumph, before forelorn, but now relieved by him. Being lifted upon by his prosperous success, he designed greater matters and intended to follow safe counsels, for he had learned both by prisoners and deserters that such scattered troops of sundry nations, and those fierce ones too, could not be conquered but by treachery or suddain assault. so that he he made edicts and propos’d impunity, and by that means called in all straglers and deserters. Hereupon, many returning, he being moved thereby and anxiously careful, required Civilis to be sent to him to govern Britain, a man of a sharp wit and very just and honest too, and also Dulcitius, a commander very skilful in warlike affairs.
16. OUT OF THE 39th BOOK OF DION
Caesar, first of all the Romans, having passed the Rhine, afterward was wafted over into Britanny, in the consulship of Pompeius and Crassus. The island is extended 45 stadia at least beyond the Morini. And it is stretched out beyond the rest of Gaul and almost all Spain, reaching out into the sea. It was unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and their posterity did doubt whether it were a continent or an island, and many writers who were ignorant of the truth, as not having seen it themselves, nor had any information from the inhabitants but spoke only by conjectures in their records, as their leisures and humours were, some counted it one, some the other. But in process of time, when Agricola was chief commander, and afterwards in the time of Severus the Emperor, it was clearly found out to be an island. Caesar, when he had setled things in France and subdued the Morini, desired to pass over thither, and accordingly he transported his foot where it was most convenient, but he landed not where he ought to land. For the fame of his coming being noised abroad, all the Britains has prepossessed the passages of the Continent. But he, sailing beyond a prominent rock, made his descent elsewhere, and repulsing those who first hindred his landing, he put his men on shore before man of the Britains could unite to impede him. And afterwards he repelled their aids too, which came in, conquered their garisons and mastred the island. Yet not many of the barbarians were slain, for they, fighting on horseback and out of chariots, did easily avoid the Romans (who had then no horse forces). But being amazed at those things which were related concerning them out of the Continent, and that they were so bold as to transport themselves and make their descent into their island, they sent some of the nation of their Morini, their friends and allies, in embassy to Caesar. First of all, Caesar demanded hostages, and they promised it. But afterwards perceiving that the naval forces of the Romans, both those near at hand and farther off, were shattered by tempest, they changed their minds, yet they did not openly set upon them (for their camp was well gaurded), but having surprized some of them who were sent in a peaceable manner to provide things necessary, they put them almost all to the sword, except some whom Caesar, speedily sending forth other forces, relieved. And presently they make an onset on his camp, but were shamefully repulsed without effecting any thing, yet they came not to terms with Caesar till they had been often worsted by him. And on the other side Caesar had no great mind to make a league with them, but the winter being now at hand, and his forces not then sufficient to carry on the war, many of those which he brought over being dead or slain, and besides, the Gauls in his absence, were attempting alterations, he clapt up a peace with them, in a manner against his will, demanding many hostages but receiving a few only. Thus was he wafted back into the Continent, where quelled the mutineers and setled affairs, neither reaped he any publick or private advantage from Britain with his labour but that he had assaulted it by arms. For this very reason he was much pleased in himself, and his friends did mightily extol him at Rome. For when they saw that places before unknown were now brought to light, and being before never heard of were now discovered, they embraced their hopes as if they had been enjoyments and, antedating their success, they rejoyced as if they had already obtained their desired conquest, and therefore they decreed supplications to the gods for twenty days.
17. FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE FIRST BOOK OF BEDE
The islanders do profess one and the same theology, and that in five tongues, viz., of the Angles, Brittons, Scots, Picts and Latins, which, by the meditations of the Scriptures, is made common to all the rest. But in the first place the Brittons only inhabited the island, from whom it took its name, who coming over into Britain, as it is reported, from the Armorick tract, seized upon the southern parts thereof. And they having possessed a great part of the island beginning from the south, it happened that the nation of the Picts, venturing to sea with a few gallies, as is reported, made their descent in Ireland, the winds hurrying them beyond all the coasts of Britain, and having landed there and peirced even to the northern parts thereof, where, finding the nation of the Scots, they desired part of their allotment for their habitation, but could not obtain it.
OUT OF THE FIFTH CHAPTER OF THE FIRST BOOK OF THE SAME AUTHOR
Severus, an African born at Lebeda near Tripoli, the fourteenth from Augustus Caesar, obtained the Empire, which he held seventeen years. He, being of a fierce disposition, as always vexed with continual wars, governed the common-wealth with great valour, indeed, but with equal toil. And, being a conqueror in the civil wars which were very greivous in his time, he was enforced to pass over into Britain upon the revolt of almost all his allies. Where, after many great and cruel battels, he gained part of the island, and divided it from the un-conquered part, not with a wall (as some think) but with a trench only. For a wall is made of stones, but a trench, wherewith camps are fortified to repel the force of enemies, is made of turf cut out of the earth; yet, as a wall, it is built high above the ground, so that there is a ditch before it, out of which the turfs are digged and heaved up, above which pallisadoes made of strong wood are prefixed and hung out. Wherefore Severus drew a great ditch and a firm graff or work, fortified with many towers above, from sea to sea, and then he died at York.
18. OUT OF HIS TWELFTH CHAPTER OF THE SAME BOOK
Afterwards, Britain being despoiled of all her armed souldiery and of her chief florid [flourishing] youth, which were carried away captive by the severity of tyrants and never returned again, was laid open to be preyed upon and plundred, as being wholly ignorant of the art of war. At last it was suddenly harassed by two transmarine nations, the Scots from the south and the Picts from the north, under whose yoke she groaned many years: I call them transmarine nations, not because they had their habitations out of Britain, but because they were remote from the allotment of the Britains, two creeks of the sea running betwixt them, one of them from the east sea and the other from the west, running far into land, though they reach not one to the other. The oriental one hath in the midst of it the city Guidi. The occidental one above it, i. e., on the right hand of it, hath the city Alcluyth, which in their tongue signifieth a rock, for Cluyth is situate by a river of the same name. By reason of the incursions of these nations, the Brittons send ambassadors Rome with complaining missives, craving aid of them with mournful supplications, and promising perpetual subjection to them if they would drive away those enemies that were at their very doors. Hereupon an armed legion was designed for their assistance, which being transported into the island and fighting with their enemies, slew many of them and drove the rest beyond the limits of their allies. And thus having delivered them from their cruel bondage, they advised them to build a wall within the island between the two seas, which might be a safeguard to them to repel their enemies. And then, in great triumph, they returned home. They, hearkening to their advice, erect a wall as enjoined, not so much with stones as turfs, but having no eminent artificers fit for such an undertaking, it was good for little. They made it between the two seas or bays (of which i lately spake) of the sea, for many miles, that so, where the waters were not a defence, there, by the advantage of the wall, they might secure their borders from the inrodes of their enemies. The evident marks and footsteps of this high wall and work do remain to this day. It begins at almost a mile distant from the monastery of Kebercurning towards the west, in a place called in the Picts language Panuachel, but in the English Penueltime, and, bending against the west, it is terminated by the city Alcluyth.
19. But their former enemies, as soon as they perceived that the Roman souldiers were departed, being carried in ships, brake into their borders killing and spoiling all before them, and, as if they were corn ready for the sickle, they mow, trample upon, and destroy them. Hereupon the Brittons send a second embassy to Rome with redoubled complaints and lamentations, desiring aid lest their miserable country should be wholly razed and the name of a Roman province, wherewith they had been honoured so long, should now grow cheap and precarious by the invasion of foreigners. Hereupon another legion was sent, which, according to command, arrived in autumn, made a great slaughter of their enemies, and drove all that made their escape beyond the seas, who they year before drove all their preys beyond those seas without any resistance. Then the Romans told the Britains that they could come no more on such chargeable and toilsome expeditions for their defence, but they advised them to take arms themselves and fight with their enemies; that, were it not for their sluggishness, they might be as valiant as they. Moreover, they thought it advantageous to their allies, whom they must leave, that a wall was drawn directly from sea to sea between the cities which were there built for fear of enemies, where also Severus made a trench. This wall they built accordingly with firm stone, both with the publick and private purse (s is yet to be seen), taking to their assistance a company of the Britains. It was eight foot broad and twelve high in a direct line from east to west. Both are yet to be seen. After they had built it, they gave strict charge to the inhabitants for their self-defence and afforded them examples for the training up in arms. But in the south shore, where their ships were lodged because from thence they feared the irruptions of the barbarians, they erected towers at proper distances for the prospect of the sea, and so they took their leaves, as never intending to return.
20. AND A LITTLE LATER
In short, they fly and are dispersed, leaving their cities and walls. Their enemies follow and make more cruel slaughters than ever before. For as lambs are devoured by wolves, so were the poor country-men torn in pieces by their enemies, so that, being ejected out of their habitations and in danger to be starved, they exercised robberies and mutual rapacities to keep themselves alive. Thus they increased external slaughters by domestick broils, till all the country was quite despoiled of food but what was got by hunting.
OUT OF THE EPISTLE OF GILDAS
Whom he commanded to build a wall between the two seas on the further side of the island, that it might be a terrour to enemies and a defence to the inhabitants.
The remainders of them sent lamentable letters to Aetius, a man of great authority in Rome, beginning thus: “To Aetius, thrice Consul, the groans of Britain.” And a little later they complain, “The barbarians repel us to the sea, the sea beats us back to the barbarians. Between these two kinds of death we are either killed on land or drowned at sea, neither have we any fence or relief against either of them.”
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