Roman Scotland

    Abstract

    SIR GEORGE MACDONALD'S reconstruction of the history of the Roman wall from Forth to Clyde, and of the strategic position in Roman Scotland in the second century A.D. from the evidence of his excavations, which appeared in the Times of April 7, justifies his citation of the dictum of the late Prof. Haverfield that the spade would prove mightier than the pen, but at the same time will suggest to his readers the qualification that its superiority depends upon the skill of the excavator, and his constructive powers in the interpretation of his finds. Sir George's ability in this respect enables him to piece together the data he has obtained from the thirty-seven miles of wall between Bridgeness on the Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde, with its forts, ditch and flanking road for supply purposes, and to supply from it a conclusive solution for the more puzzling problems of a political and military situation which required the building of the forward line of defence and yet at the same time did not relieve the garrison of Hadrian's wall to the south. The key to the situation, which he now supplies, is the vulnerability of the intra-mural area from the inroads of the Dalriada Scots of Ireland through Galloway. Further, he suggests, the country north of York, being occupied in a military sense only, even though the outer wall provided an efficient barrier against attack by the northern tribes, it was necessary to have a garrison on the southern wall to shut off the partially subdued tribes, on the southern side of the wall from those in the occupied Scottish area, in order to prevent any junction of disaffected tribesmen. Sir George's suggestion that shortage of man power and a miscalculation of the pressure which could be brought to bear by Irish inroads is a logical, but none the less brilliant, reading of the situation when about 185 A.D, the outer line of defence was abandoned.

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