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Along the Walls of Hadrian and Antonine page 2


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The attack did not end there. It swept on southwards, its impetus maintained perhaps by new tribes which rose at its coming. The mob hurled itself at the long line of Hadrian's Wall, and broke it.

From this disaster the defences of the Antonine frontier never again arose. Urgent measures, however, were taken to recover and consolidate that of Hadrian.

A blunt and energetic soldier, Ulpius Marcellus, was placed in command, and within three years the wall once more stood firm. The comparatively rough but massive and effective work of this hurried restoration can be detected in the forts and mile-castles and along the wall itself. Gateways were built anew, or were wholly or partly blocked with masonry- visible confession that the era of comparatively open warfare had given place to an era of potential siege, and that the wall was now less a base for offensive operations than the curtain wall of a defensive garrison. In point of fact the wall was now being submitted strategically to a strain for which it was never intended by its original builders. Nevertheless, for nearly another century it held good.

In or about the year 270 the wall was again " slighted," though under what circumstances is not clear. Nor is the exact moment of its final abandonment beyond dispute. But it is suggestive that no coin from a structure along the wall is later than the year 383. In that year Magnus Maximus, a Spaniard who had married a British wife, assumed in Britain the title of Emperor, and then crossed to France to establish his claim to the Empire as a whole. With him he took the pick of the armies in Britain, and this entirely selfish action probably did more than any other single thing to seal the doom of the province.

The forts along the wall-or at least some of them- were still included in official schedules at Rome for nearly half a century after that event; nevertheless they were now mere names, and the whole frontier was a wasteland. Behind it, the half-military towns at Corbridge and Carlisle eked out a tenuous existence for a few years longer. But Hadrian's work, save for that remnant of it which is, we may hope, an imperishable part of our inheritance, was at last undone.

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Pictures for Along the Walls of Hadrian and Antonine page 2

Roman Milestone, Near Vindobala
Roman Milestone, Near Vindobala >>>>
Roman Altars, Wall and Gate Post
Roman Altars, Wall and Gate Post >>>>
North Gate at Borcovicus: The wall at Housestand
North Gate at Borcovicus: The wall at Housestand >>>>
The Wall on its way Eastward to Borcovicus, passing a Mile-Castle
The Wall on its way Eastward to Borcovicus, passing a Mile-Castle >>>>
A Romano-British city and Fort near Corbridge
A Romano-British city and Fort near Corbridge >>>>
Tablets and other Records of Antonines wall
Tablets and other Records of Antonines wall >>>>
Entrance to the Bath House and the Treasury
Entrance to the Bath House and the Treasury >>>>
Masonry at Castlecary and Gate wall foundations at Bernuli Camp
Masonry at Castlecary and Gate wall foundations at Bernuli Camp >>>>
Vantage point of the Antonine Mould of Ferguston moor
Vantage point of the Antonine Mould of Ferguston moor >>>>
Military road at Bar Hill Camp, near Glasgow
Military road at Bar Hill Camp, near Glasgow >>>>

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