Slike strani

recognise the departments, as well as a sailor from one ship of the line would recognise the departments of another. So the legionary brought from Spain or Egypt, and set down in a camp in Strathearn, would find himself at home at once. He would know that in the centre, a little to the rear, was squared off the prætorium of the general's headquarters, and that right in front a road led out of it through the prætorian gate ; that in square masses on the right and left wings were the cohorts of allies—the foot outside and the horse within. He would know where to find the diagonal thoroughfares, the quintana, and principia ; and placed with like precision would be the depositories of baggage and fodder, the places for staking horses, and the offices where business was transacted.

Polybius, the Greek historian, who lived about two centuries before Christ, has sent down to us some of the most picturesque and remarkable characteristics of the Romans, and especially of their warfare. Among these are an accurate analysis of all the several departments of the Roman camp. military authority has found these details to tally to his entire satisfaction with the camps in the north of Scotland. We know that the Romans were tenaciously conservative of their practices, but that the camps in North Britain should precisely coincide with those which must have been seen some three centuries earlier, infers an extremity of immutability; and one would rather throw it on General Roy's military experience than the exact fitting of the Scots camps to the Polybian castrametation, that he can account for at least one army of 30,000 Roman troops having traversed the country, the camps holding about 26,000,

A great

old one.

and the proper outposts accounting for the rest. The General, however, submitted his computations to a curious cross-test. Polybius is not the only author who has left us a detailed account of the Roman camp. The same function was performed in his own way some 300 years later by a certain Hyginus, who calls himself a gromaticus, or land-surveyor. The camp had still, in its general elements, a resemblance to the

It was still square ; the prætorium in the same place, but rather different in shape, with the prætorian gate and the two transverse streets. But there were radical changes in the distribution of the troops, arising out of the political conditions of conquest and acquisition. The allies were no longer separated into two masses on the right and left wing. Desertions and dealings with the enemy suggested the policy of completely surrounding them with Roman troops ; a thin line of these, in small divisions, bordered every side of the camp, and was separated from the mixed troops in the centre by a path called the Sagular Street, parallel to each rampart. General Roy

This fragment is preserved in the quarto volume called 'Hygini Gromatici et Polybii Megalopolitani de Castris Romanis quæ extant, cum notis et animadversionibus, quibus accedunt dissertationes aliquot de re eadem militari populi Romani, R. H. S. 1660. The Latinity of the land-surveyor has brought him no fame as an author, and critics have found that it is not very accurately rendered. Had it been a work of genius, commentators would have laboured at its perfect restoration. Being what it is, the editor has taken an effective but rather cumbersome plan for relieving himself from responsibility. He has accompanied his own rendering by a reprint literative of the text as he found it, without stops or breaks. Hence the fragment begins thus—"Nuncpapilionumtensionemcohortiumsuprascriptarumostendimuspapiliounusoccupatpedesdecem," &c. This is articulated into "Nunc papilionum tensionem cohortium suprascriptarum ostendimus. Papilio unus occupat pedes decem," &c.

finds in the Hyginian camp the traces of the decay of the old military rigidness. The amount of fatigueduty exacted for the protection of the troops was relaxed, and they were crowded into smaller space. He estimated that the great camp at Ardoch, if filled on the Hyginian system, would hold from 60,000 to 70,000 men, and would predicate an army of at least 80,000.

The line of Roman camps reaches as far as Aberdeenshire and Inverness-shire. The most remarkable of them, however, are found in that natural highway northward, formed by Strathallan, Strathearn, and Strathmore. The most remarkable of all are the camps at Ardoch Bridge. Here, in the first place, is a strong fort, breaking the natural outline of the country. It is square, according to the custom of the Romans, and consists of several high ramparts, with deep ditches between. The neighbourhood is strewn with smaller works, but close to the fort are two large camps, one considerably larger than the other. Their lines cross each other, and show that the larger is the older of the two. Taken together, they are a testimony to the fastidious precision of the Roman legionaries. Other troops, when occupying the spot where there was already a camp, might have accommodated themselves to it, or at all events, if it was too large, might have run a rampart through, reserving the space they desired. But the smaller camp has evidently been run up independently of the existence of the larger. Something in the fastidious accuracy necessary in the division of a Roman encampment was inconsistent with the use of the old rampart, and so the whole work of intrenchment was done over again.

In conjunction with their ramparts, forts, and camps, their great roads must be looked to as part of the military system of the Romans. These radiated from the centre, and penetrated in every direction to the farthest extremities of the empire. A symbol of the stubborn persistency of the conquering people, they were carried straight onwards, never swerving to the right or the left, and disdaining, after the practice of modern engineering, to humour the inequalities of the soil. When insuperable impediments faced the progress onwards, they were tunnelled, but in such districts as the Scottish Lowlands the road passed straight over the broad hill. Near Rome these roads were broad and level, and so smoothly paved as to have in some measure anticipated the railway, and to account for the practice of the Roman men of fashion, who delighted to drive about on them in chariots without springs. This perfection of finish disappeared as they spread outwards into distant regions, where the soldier only used them ; but to their extremities they were heavily paved, and as enduring in their structure as if the empire they belonged to would require them so long as the crust of the earth should keep together. The agricultural improver, when he comes upon these abiding tracks of Roman conquest, is provoked to find that he will not only have to remove the upper pavement of heavy boulders, but that when this is done there is a deep foundation of gravel and other hopeless matter to be dealt with, so that he reaches the prudent conclusion that the enterprise of removal will not repay itself.

1 The Roman roads have a literature of their own. See Histoire des Grands Chemins de l'Empire Romain, contenant l'origine, progrès, et etenduë quasi incroyable de chemins militaires, pavez depuis la ville de Rome jusques aux extrémitez de son Empire. Où se voit la grandeur et la puissance incomparable des Romains; ensemble l'éclaircissement de l'Itineraire d'Antonin et de la Carte de Peutinger.' Par Nicolas Bergier, Avocat au Siège Presiddal de Reims. 2 vols. 4to, 1736.


The great north road touched the sea at Boulogne, and was resumed on the opposite side. Scotland was deemed worthy of two great lines of road. left the southern wall near Carlisle, and passed by Langtown and Birrenswork to the western extremity of the northern wall. The other, which might be called the trunk line, was that by which the troops were to get on to the far north. It is a continuation of the great English Watling Street, and enters Scotland near the head of the river Coquet, passing by Jedburgh, where it is very conspicuous, and on by the Eildon Hills and the Pentlands to Cramond, and thence onwards to the northern wall, along which there was a fine military way, which would join the north and the south roads. For purely military purposes the road appears to have been carried northwards into Aberdeenshire. It is easier to trace the track through highly-cultivated land than through mountain districts, where a coating of heath and moss renders the line little distinguishable from the other stony covering of the mountain. Patches of the paving appear here and there among the camps in Strathearn or Strathmore, and the peasant will speak of finding his way from Ardoch to Perth without coming off the old road.

The one

1 One of the best specimens of a Roman byroad passes through probably the highest-rented land in the empire, between Edinburgh and the bathing-town of Portobello. It is called the Fishwife's Causey, from its having been, or been supposed to have been, used by these women in carrying their fish to the Edinburgh market.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »