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Forth and Clyde. " These stations were crowded with
streets and buildings, and adorned with baths and temples :"
and towns of considerable size grew up in time under the
protection of the garrisons. There are ruins so vast and
complete still scattered on these desolate hills that they
have been styled without too much exaggeration the
" Tadmor " and the " Pompeii " of Britain.

" It is hardly credible," said an old traveller, " what a
number of august remains of the Roman grandeur is to be
seen here to this day : in every place where one casts his
eye there is some curious antiquity to be seen, either the
marks of streets and temples in ruins, or inscriptions,
broken pillars, "statues and other pieces of sculpture, all
scattered on the ground.'"^

^ Gordon, Itin. Septent. 76; Hodgson, Hist. Northumb. 185. Compare
another account of "the carcass of an ancient city" near Windermere.
Camden's Britannia (Gibson), y86. " The vast remains of the Roman
station and town (at Housesteads) are truly wonderful : a great number of
inscriptions and sculptures have been found, and many yet remain at this
place. The town or outbuildings have stood on a gentle declivity south
and south-east of the station, where there are now streets or somewhat
looking like terraces." Horsley, Britannia Romana, 148.


1 6 Origins of English History.

A brief invasion in the reign of Antoninus Pius disturbed
the repose of the world. The free Brigantians of the
hills took vengeance on the protected clans ; but their
assault was repelled and sharply punished by Lollius
Urbicus, a general who had already distinguished himself
in a difficult campaign against the Moors.^ To ensure
against such dangers in the future a line of earthworks was
constructed on Agricola's frontier : and the whole garrison
was summoned to the building of this new wall, of which
the ruins remain in the " Grahame's Dyke " on the isthmus
between Forth and Clyde.^

Some little may be learned about the war from the
sculptured tablets erected by the industrious soldiery.
Here, for instance, a group of altars has preserved to our
own times the praises of " Victoria Victrix," of Hercules

^ Pausan. viii. 43.

^ For a description of the Grahame's Dyke, see Camden's Britannia
(Gibson), 1286, 1287. It consisted of the works enumerated in the
following list : "^ a. A ditch of twelve feet wide before the wall, towards
the enemy's country. /•. A wall of squared and cut stone two feet broad,
probably higher than the wall, to cover the defenders and to keep the earth
of the wall from falling into the ditch, c. The wall itself, of ten feet thick-
ness, but how high is not known, d. A paved way close at the foot of the
wall live feet broad, e. Watch-towers within call of one another where
sentinels kept watch day and night, f. A wall of squared stone going
through the breadth of the wall just against the towers." A " court of
guard" is also described, with its ramparts and outer walls of cut stone j
and, besides these, "great and royal forts strongly entrenched, though
within the wall, able to receive a whole army together." The wall is first
mentioned by Capitolinus. Vita Pii, c. 5, It seems to have contained ten.
principal stations and was about twenty-seven English miles in length.
Hiibner, Corp. Lat. Inscr. vii. 191, 207. Carausius, according to the legend
in Nennius, repaired this wall " and built upon the bank of the Carron a
round house of polished stone." Hist. Nenn. c. 19. This was a prehistoric
tomb, which has commonly been called "Arthur's Oven." Camden's
Britannia (Gibson), 222.

Origins of English History. 317

who shared the toil, and Epona who guided the horsemen.
At one point an Italian troop set up a chapel and a statue
to Mercury, at another the Gauls carved inscriptions to
"Mars-Camulus," and the Germans to their gods of victory.
The tablets display the Caledonian warriors and the figures
of crouching captives : the trooper in one medallion rides
down the defenceless savages, and in another Peace
returns, and flute-players lead the soldiers towards the
altar and the victims ready for the thank-offering. One
may read on these stones the army's thanks to "Britannia,"
to the Genius of the Land, and the spirits of the woods
and hills. The Roman soldiers were content to pray to
" Sancta Britannia," or to " Brigantia " with her spear and
turreted crown, just as they deified their standards, the
Emperor's majesty, and even their own good luck: "nos te,
nos facimus Fortuna deam": and this kind of "Fetichism"
extended so far that there was hardly a person, place, or
thing, of which the essential part might not be mentally
detached and feared or adored as a god.^

After the peaceful age of the Antonines the debatable
land about the Walls became the scene of a perpetual
warfare, which raged or smouldered as the barbarians burst
across the line or were chased into the recesses of the

^ " Genium dicebant antiqui naturalem deum unius cujusque loci vel
rei aut hominis." Servius ad Virgil. Georg. i. 302 ; Herodian. iv. 147.
Compare Seneca, Epist. 41, and the controversy between Prudentius and
Symniachus, " Ut animae nascuntur, ita populis natales genii dividuntur."
Symmachus, Epist. 61 ; Prudentius, In Symmach. ii. 71. As to the statues
of Brigantia and Britannia, see Wellbeloved, " Eburacum," 12, 28, 92.
Professor Rhys connects the name of Brigantia with that of Brigit, the fire-
goddess. Hibbert Lect. 1866, 75, 77. For the inscriptions found near the
Wall of Antoninus, see Hubner, Corp. Lat. Inscr. vii. 191 5 and for repre-
sentations of some of the sculptures mentioned in the text, see Mitchell's
"Past and Present," 245, 246.

3i8 Origins of English History.

mountains. There are few records of a conflict which
only became important when the strength of the Empire
was failing : but we can distinguish some occasions on
which the fortune of Rome was restored.

The expedition of Severus made it certain that the
Highland tribes could never be finally subdued. The old
Emperor was holding his court at Rome, when letters were
received from York announcing that the army had been
driven back upon the fortresses and that the barbarians
were ravaging the land. Severus seems to have been
weary of the splendour and corruption by which his
depotism was maintained. "I have been all things," he
said, "and nothing avails me." He determined to lead the
campaign himself, and in the summer of a.d. 208 the court
was transferred to York and an army massed upon the
frontier. The restoration of the province was followed by
a further advance which ended in a costly failure. The
plan of invasion was unsuited to the nature of the country.
The estuaries were bridged and roads were driven through
the fens, but still, as the troops pushed their way, the enemy
retreated to more distant places of refuge : and, before a
precarious peace could be arranged, it was estimated that
fifty thousand men had perished in the never-ending
ambuscades and skirmishes, or had died of cold and
disease. Before two years had passed the war broke out
again, and Severus vainly threatened to extirpate every
tribe in the hills. His death is said to have been hastened
by the omens of approaching ruin, and the trifling story is
useful as illustrating his temperament and the manners of
his time. When he went into the street at York to make
an off'ering to some healing god, he was led to the " House
of Bellona" by the mistake of a rustic soothsayer: black

Origins of English History. 319

victims stood in readiness for a gloomy sacrifice, and were
permitted by ill fortune to follow the Emperor to the
palace. A negro soldier had met him at a posting-house
near Hadrian's Wall and had spoken words relating to
death and enthronement in heaven: "Thou hast been all
things," he had cried, as he presented a funereal wreath,
" Thou hast conquered all things, now therefore be the God
of Victory !"i

Severus died, and was deified ; and his sons Caracalla
and Geta admitted the Caledonians to easy terms of peace.
The province remained secure till Britain obtained a
short-lived independence, "by carelessness or by some
stroke of Fate," according to the Roman story, but in
truth by the courage and wisdom of an obscure adventurer.
A new danger had arisen from the pirate fleets of the
Franks, who infested the British Seas and had even found
their way to the coasts of Spain and Africa. Carausius
the Menapian, the commander of the imperial navy, was
suspected of encouraging the pirates, to enrich himself with
a share of their booty : and his only chance of life was
a successful rebellion in Britain.^ Here he proclaimed
himself Emperor in a.d. 288, and ruled the island peace-
fully, until in the seventh year of his reign he was
murdered by his minister Allectus. The scanty garrison
was reinforced by volunteers from Gaul and a large force of

^ Spartianus. Vita Severi, c. 19, 22.

^ The Story of Carausius appears in the Ossianic poems in a strangely
altered form. "^ Caros, king of ships," spreads the wings of his pride in vain.
" Ryno came to the mighty Caros 5 he struck his flaming spear. Come to
the battle of Oscar, O thou that sittest on the rolling of the waves ! " Another
dim tradition of the Roman wars is found in the same poems, in the passage
where Comala waits for Fingal^ who is fighting with "Caracul" (Caracalla),
one of the " kings of the world."

320 Origins of English History.

Franks, who served as legionaries in the new army and as
sailors on the ships of war. The usurpation was condoned,
though the insult could never be forgiven ; and the Menapian
was accepted as a partner in the Empire by Diocletian and
Maximian, whose origin was as humble as his own, though
they assumed to rule the world by the wisdom of Jupiter
and in the strength of Hercules.

The Franks were fast arriving at complete dominion in
Britain when Constantius broke their power by a decisive
battle in which Allectus himself was killed. The Roman
fleet had successfully blockaded Boulogne, the outpost and
stronghold of the insular power, and the friends of Allectus
were weakened by an attack on their settlements near the
Rhine. An army of invasion was landed under cover of
a fog at a point west of the Isle of Wight, where the
British galleys were stationed. It is difficult to extract the
truth from the rhapsodies of the courtly chronicler : but
we may believe that Allectus advanced too rashly and
with too implicit a confidence in his German followers.
It was said that hardly a Roman fell, w^hile all the hill-
sides were covered with the bodies of the Franks, who
might be recognised by their tight clothes and broad belts,
and by their fashion of shaving the face, and of wearing
their reddened hair in a mass pushed forward on the fore-
head.^ The imperial forces at once pushed on to London,

^ Eumenius, Paneg. Constant. 15, 16, 17. Compare the description of
the Franks in the letters and poems of Sidonius Apollinaris. "Ipse
medius incessit, flammeus cocco, rutilus auro, lacteus serico : tum cultui
tanto coma rubore cute concolor." Epist. iv. 7.

" Rutin quibus arce cerebri
Ad frontem coma tracta jacet, nudataque cervix
Setarum per damna nitet, tum kmiine glauco

Origins of English History. 321

where a remnant of the Franks was defeated. " The
City," in the words of its historian, " seemeth not to have
been walled in a.d. 296, because, when Allectus the Tyrant
was slaine in the field, the Franks easily entered London
and had sacked the same, had not God of his great favour
at the very instant brought along the River of Thames
certain bands of Romane souldiers who slew those Franks
in every street of the City."^

In Diocletian's new scheme of government the world
was to be governed by two Emperors, administering the
Eastern and the Italian provinces, while the frontiers were
guarded by two associated "Caesars," the one governing
on the Danube and the other in the united regions of
Spain Gaul and Britain.

The dominion of the West was justly assigned to Con-
stantius, first as "Caesar," and then as "Augustus," after
the retirement of Diocletian. Constantius resided at York,
and is said to have been successful in a war with the Picts
and Scots : but he is chiefly remembered as father of
Constantine the Great, and as husband of that pious
Helena whose legend has taken so many shapes in the
fabulous chronicles. The child of a Dacian innkeeper
has become an island-princess, daughter of " Coil of
Colchester," as learned divines have maintained, and the
famous " Saint Helen " of the Yorkshire wells.^

Albet aquosa acies, ac vnltibus undique rasis
Pro barba tenues perarantur pectine cristae."

Carm. vii. 238, 242.
^ Stowe's Survey of London (161 9) 6.

^ Usher, Camden, and Stillingfieet, endeavoured in their zeal for the
British Church to support the fiction that Helena was the daughter of
"King Coil." The legend may be found in Geoffrey of Monmouth's
History, v. c. 6. Her father was supposed to have revolted against " King
Asclepiodotus," a personage constructed by the bards out of the story of


322 Origins of English History.

Constantius died in the year 306, soon after the close of
the Caledonian war/ and Constantine the Great was at
once chosenby the soldiers to succeed him in the sovereignty
of the West, though the dignity was not legally confirmed
until his marriage in the following year. We are told

the real Asclepiodotus, the general who defeated Allectus and his army of
Franks. " Mr. Carte " (says Gibbon) " transports the kingdom of Coil,
the imaginary father of Helen, from Essex to the Wall of Antoninus."
Hist. Deck and Fall, c. 14. Her name was preserved in West Yorkshire
by her ford and well near Tadcaster, and two sacred springs at Eshton and
Fernhill in Craven. " St. Helen's Well near Tadcaster is close to the right
of the Riggate, one branch of the great Roman road to York. The water
is soft and very clear : it is much esteemed as a remedy for weak eyes, and
the adjoining bushes are still hung with votive offerings of ribbons."
Whitaker's Hist. Craven (Morant), 239. She seems to have been confused
in some of the Welsh legends with an imaginary personage who gave her
name to the " Sam Elen," or Roman road in North Wales. " The men
of Britain would not have made these great roads for any save her alone."
Guest's Mabinogion, 449, 456. Rhys, Hibbert Lectures, 1866, 167.

^ Constantius died at York^ and was probably buried there. Eumenius,
the Panegyrist of Constantine, affirmed that he was nominated to the
Empire by his father. "Thou didst enter that sacred palace not as a
candidate, but as already chosen, and the household gods at once saw
in thee the lawful successor of thy father." Eumen. Paneg. vii. c. 4.
Some take this for the Palace at Treves. Wyttenbach, Rom. Antiqu.
Treves, ^2> '■> Wellbeloved, Eburacum, 62. According to the fable of
Nennius Constantius died at Carnarvon. " His sepulchre, as appears by the
inscription on his tomb, is still seen near the city named Caer-Segont.
Upon the pavement of that city he sowed three seeds of gold silver and
brass, that no poor person might ever be found in it." Hist. Nenn. 25.
As to this piece of folk-lore, compare the story in the Heimskringla,
Ynglinga-Tal, c. '^2)- "There is a long account in the Skioldung Saga
about Rolf Kraka coming and sowing gold on the Fyrisvold." Laing, Sea
Kings of Norway, i. 245. As to the tomb, Nennius perhaps referred to the
real inscription oh the " Ogamstone " of some later King of North Wales,
such as that of " Catamanus, Rex sapientisimiis opinatisimus omnium,^^ found
in Anglesea, or that rude epitaph of a provincial Carausius found near
Carnarvon, " Carausius hie jacit in hoc congeries lapidum." Camden's
Britannia (Gibson), 811 ; Rhys, Welsh Philology, 364, 26().

Origins of English History. 323

that his election was chiefly due to the friendly zeal of a
German king who had brought his army to Britain to
assist in the northern campaign.^

The scheme of government which Diocletian had de-
signed was in some respects amended by Constantine.
Britain formed one diocese of a vast pro-consulate extend-
ing from Mount Atlas to the Caledonian deserts, and
governed by the Gallic Prefect through a " Vicar " or
deputy at York. The island was divided into five new
provinces without regard for the ancient boundaries,^ To
each was assigned a governor experienced in the law, who
dealt with taxation and finance. The army was under the
general jurisdiction of the two Masters of the Cavalry and
Infantry, whose task was to supervise the forces of the

^ The chronicler gives the following account of the aid rendered by
Chrocus and his AUemanian army : " Cunctis qui aderant annitentibus sed
praecipue Croco Alamannorum rege, auxilii gratia Constantium comitate,
imperium capit." Victor. Jun. c. 41. "This" says Gibbon "is perhaps
the first instance of a barbarian king who assisted the Roman arms with an
independent body of his own subjects. The practice grew familiar, and at
last became fatal." Valentinian in the same way engaged the services of
"King P'raomar." Animian. Marcell. xxix. 4.

^ The names of the provinces appear in the " Notitia." Upper Britain
was subdivided into " Britannia Prima " and " Britannia Secunda." Lower
Britain was divided in the same way into "Flavia Caesariensis " and
"Maxima Caesariensis." " Valentia " was between the Walls of Hadrian
and Antoninus. According to Pancirollus, Not. Dignit. Comment. 159,
161, 162, 176, " Britannia Prima" was probably the south-eastern province,
and " Maxima " the district between the Wash or the Humber and
Hadrian's Wall. Rid. 158. According to Dion Cassius (Xiphiline), Iv.
c. 23, Caerleon and Chester were in Upper Britain, and York was in Lower
Britain. Rhys, Celtic Britain, 97 ; Scarth, Roman Britain, 96. It seems
that the old tribal names remained in use, and were revived when the
country became independent. See the list of the British cities by the
Ravenna Geographer, and such inscriptions as " Corbalengi jacit Ordous,''
and " Doluni Fabri." Rhys, Welsh Philology, 203, 379, 400.

21 *

324 Origins of English History.

Empire in the West. But, so far as this country was
concerned, it was under the direct orders of the " Count
of Britain," assisted by two important though subordinate
officers. The " Duke of Britain " commanded in Upper
Britain, and the districts adjoining the Northern walls,
while the " Count of the Saxon Shore" held the govern-
ment of " the maritime tract," and provided for the
defence of the fortresses which lined the South-Eastern
coast. ^

The point of chief importance with regard to this system
of government is to explain the intricate scheme of roads
and fortresses, by which these generals were enabled to
secure the free movement of troops from coast to coast,
or towards any danger upon the frontiers. In this expla-
nation we are helped by the " Notitia " for the period
between the reign of Constantine and the retreat of the
Roman armies, and for the preceding period by the
"Itinerary of Antoninus," which shows the lines of com-
munication between all the cities in the Empire.^

With the assistance of these records we are able to
trace the principal military routes which connected the
northern frontiers with the stations in the South and West,
and with the districts on the Saxon Shore. But we must

^ There was another " Saxon Shore " on the opposite coast, with its
head-quarters at Boulogne. For a description of the forts on the " Littus
Saxonicum per Britannias " see Pancirollus, Not. Dignit. Comment. 161.

^ The " Antoninus " whose name gave its title to the record was
Caracalla, the successor of Severus. Several commentators, however,
assign the date of the Itinerary to the age of Constantine the Great. The
difficulties in using this document arise from the paucity and corruptness
of the MSB., and in particular from the errors of mileage appearing in
the earliest copy, which can hardly be amended by modern research or

Origins of English History. 325

first consider whether any help can be gained from the
identification of these roads with the four national
highways, so famous in the medigeval records, which
were for centuries placed under the " King's Peace "
and guarded by special laws from injury.^ "It is the
general voice," said Gale, " of all our historians, that four
great roads or streets ran from several points across this
island. But writing long after they were made, and in
different times, they have left their accounts of them so
obscure and uncertain, both as to the courses they held
and the names they were known by, that it is no wonder
if we, who come so many ages after them, are still in the
dark and so much at a loss to trace any one of these streets
from the beginning to the end of it ; and indeed I now
conclude it is impossible to do it without great interrup-
tions, time and other accidents destroying every day more
and more of their mouldering remains."^

^ These were the "Gluatuor Chimini " of the Norman Laws. Palgrave,
Commonw. 2845 Thorpe, Anc. Laws, 192; Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 182.

^ Gale, Essay towards the recovery of the courses of the Roman Ways, in
Hearne's Leland, v. 116. The chief difhculties have arisen from trusting
to stories taken from the Welsh chronicles. According to the fables of
Geoffrey of Monmouth "King Belinus " paved a causeway of stone and
mortar running from the Sea of Cornwall to the shores of Caithness, and
another across the breadth of his kingdom from St. David's to the Port of
Southampton, " and other two he made obliquely through the island for a
passage to the rest of the cities." Geoff. Monm. iii. c. 5- According to
this scheme, which was adopted by the monkish chroniclers, the Fosse-
Way passed from Totnes to Caithness, the Ermin Street from St. David's
to Southampton, the Ikenild Street (confused with the Ryknild Way)
from St. David's to Tynemouth, and Watling, Street from Dover through
Chester to Cardigan. The first step towards accuracy in the matter is
gained when these legends are cast aside. The chief authorities for the
false description are Henry of Huntingdon, Higden's ' Polychronicon,' and
Drayton in his ' Polyolbion.'

326 Origins of English History.

The names of these royal highways were the WatHng
Street, Fosse-Way, Ermin Street, and Ikenild Street.
When the course of the last-named road was forgotten it
was confused with another line called the Ryknild Way
which followed an old Roman road from Gloucester to
Doncaster. There is no doubt that these names were
connected with the Teutonic mythology, though the glory
of the hero " Irmin" and the craft of the " Wsetlings " is
forgotten/ Nor can we doubt, upon a consideration of the
antiquarian evidence, that each of these streets represented
a combination of those portions of the Roman roads which
the English adopted and kept in repair, as communications
between their principal cities. The Watling Street repre-
sents the old zigzag route from Kent to Chester and York,
and northwards in two branches to Carlisle and the neigh-
bourhood of Newcastle.^ The Fosse-Way ran diagonally

^ Flor. Wore. Chron. a.d. 1013; Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol. 330, citing
the Complaint of Scotland, 90; and Chaucer's "House of Fame," ii. 427,

" Lo there ! quod he, cast up thine eye,
Se yonder, lo ! the Galaxie,
The whiche men clepe the Milky Way,
For it is white, and some parfay
Y-callen it han Watlinge-strete."

^ The old name of the Watling Street is still found in Dover and
London : it forms the boundary between Warwickshire and Leicester-
shire ; it was the line of division chosen in Alfred's Treaty with Guthrum,
the Danes keeping all the country north of " Wathlinga-strete " 5 the
monastic records show that the Priory of Lilleshall in Shropshire was
situate " prope altam viam vocatam WatUng-Sireet." Hearne's Leland,
Itin. vi. i2g ; Dugdale, Monast. Anglic, ii. 145, 147, 942. The road
between Ilkley and York is called by the same name. Phillipp's Essay,
Archceol. jfourn. No. 39. From York the Watling Street runs due north
to the Wall (MacLauchlan, 'The Roman Wall' 3 HLibner, Corp. Lat.
Inscr. vii. 213). A passage in Leland's Itinerary shows that the same
name was given to the great eastern branch which led from Catterick to

Origins of English History. 327

through Bath to Lincoln. The Ermin Street led direct
from London to Lincoln, with a branch to Doncaster and
York ; and the obscure Ikenild Street curved inland from
Norwich to Dunstable, and was carried eventually to the
coast at Southampton.

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