The Gask Ridge
In 83, Agricola (Roman governor of Britain 77–84) had routed the combined forces of the tribes of Caledonia at Mons Graupius (an unknown site). Following his victory, Agricola was recalled to Rome. His son-in-law, Tacitus, insists that:
“... Britain was thoroughly subdued and immediately abandoned ...”
‘Histories’ Book I Chapter 2
Presumably Tacitus expanded on the above headline remark later in the ‘Histories’. Unfortunately, his story has not survived. Tacitus had a personal reason for taking note of British affairs, but, sadly, his particular interest does not appear to have been shared by other writers. Between Agricola's recall, in 84, and Hadrian becoming emperor, in 117, there is a gaping hole in the literary record of events in Britain.
Even judging by his own account, in the biography of Agricola, Tacitus' contention that Caledonia had been “thoroughly subdued” seems to be something of an overstatement, but the archaeological evidence indicates that, by about 105, the Romans had, indeed, abandoned all territory north of the Tyne-Solway line.
Coin finds appear to date, with reasonable precision, a complete Roman withdrawal from Caledonia (i.e. from beyond the Forth-Clyde) to the year 87. By the time the decision to retreat was taken, a series of forts (sometimes called ‘glen-blocking’ forts) had been built along the edge of the Highland massif, and, at Inchtuthil in Perthshire, the most northerly legionary fortress of the Empire was under construction. To their south was a line of forts, fortlets and watch towers, known as the ‘Gask Ridge frontier’. On the strength of Tacitus' narrative, all this building (and no doubt there is more still to be discovered) has traditionally been attributed to Agricola and his unknown successor. Excavation at several watch towers of the Gask Ridge, however, has produced evidence that they were totally rebuilt at least once, possibly twice. Since the date of abandonment seems to be fixed at 87, this suggests that the ‘frontier’ was established earlier than had been suspected. A poem by Publius Papinius Statius (published c.95), dedicated to Crispinus, the son of Vettius Bolanus (governor of Britain 69–71), contains the passage:
“But if a land your great parent governed shall receive you, how shall fierce Araxes rejoice, what glory exalt Caledonia's plains! Then shall an aged denizen of that cruel land tell you: “Here was your father wont to dispense justice, from this mound to harangue his squadrons. The watchtowers and forts (see you?) he set far and wide and circled these walls with a ditch...” ”
D.J.Woolliscroft, Director of The Roman Gask Project, has noted that Statius' “watchtowers and forts” are “rather familiar sounding”. At any rate, in 87 the Romans demolished the, still unfinished, fortress at Inchtuthil, and, in an orderly fashion, vacated Caledonia. The reason seems to be that Britain was a low priority. A whole legion, Legio II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis, and probably auxiliary units as well, was withdrawn for service on the Danube. The remaining Roman forces were too thinly spread to maintain control of all they had already occupied, let alone finalize the conquest.


The 2nd Legion ‘Adiutrix’ (Legio II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis) should not be confused with the 2nd Legion ‘Augusta’ (Legio II Augusta), which was in Britain for the whole Roman period. Adiutrix means ‘assistant’ or ‘helper’, and they were raised, on behalf of Vespasian, during the civil war of 69 (Year of the Four Emperors). It is likely that they came to Britain with Petilius Cerialis, when he began his tenure as governor in 71, but there is actually no literary record at all of the legion's posting to Britain. The evidence comes from various inscriptions, which indicate that they were stationed at Lindum (Lincoln) and Deva (Chester), that they took part in a Dacian war (usually assumed to be Domitian's war, which ended in 89) and that they were in Moesia by 92. The general belief is that they were withdrawn from Britain in 86 or 87. After their departure the fortress of Deva appears to have been occupied by the 20th Legion (Legio XX Valeria Victrix), whilst a ‘colonia’ (colony of legionary veterans) was established at Lindum. A colonia was also founded, during the reign of Nerva (96–98), on the site of the redundant legionary fortress of Glevum (Gloucester). At the end of the 1st century, then, there were three legions in Britain – the 20th based at Deva, the 2nd Augusta at Isca (Caerleon, near Newport) and the 9th (Legio IX Hispana) at Eboracum (York). During the first decade of the 2nd century, the earth and timber defences at these remaining three fortresses were replaced with stonework.
The Stanegate
Though they had left, what is today, northern Scotland, the Romans retained a military presence in southern Scotland, indeed, the forts at Newstead (Trimontium) and Dalswinton were enlarged. However, they also built a series of forts along the route of the Stanegate – the Roman road between Corbridge (Coria) and Carlisle (Luguvalium), on the Tyne-Solway line. One of them, at Chesterholm, had the Roman name Vindolanda, and is famous for the hundreds of writing tablets that have been found there.Supplement Early in the 2nd century, round about 105, it seems that the Romans abandoned those forts lying to the north of the, so called, ‘Stanegate frontier’. It may be that further troop withdrawals – Vindolanda's garrison, the 9th Cohort of Batavians, for instance, were transferred to Moesia Inferior – necessitated the abandonment of southern Scotland, especially if the local Britons were proving hostile. Evidence unearthed at Newstead could indicate that the fort was destroyed during warfare.


There is no surviving literary record of affairs in Britain at the time when the Romans appear to have retreated from Caledonia to the Stanegate. Suetonious mentions that a governor of Britain, Sallustius Lucullus, was executed on Domitian's orders “for allowing some lances of a new pattern to be called ‘Lucullean’, after his own name”*. Presumably Lucullus was guilty of (or suspected of) a somewhat greater transgression than simply naming a lance after himself – there are various theories – but all that can be said with certainty is that he served and was executed sometime between the departure of Agricola, in 84, and Domitian's assassination, in 96. A single line in a satirical poem by Juvenal might point to native unrest during that same period. A “turbot of wondrous size” is said to be an omen:
“A mighty presage hast thou, O Emperor! [Domitian] of a great and glorious victory. Some King will be thy captive; or Arviragus will be hurled from his British chariot-pole.”
‘Satires’ IV
Arviragus (assuming he is a real historical figure) is not mentioned in the surviving texts of Tacitus – he could possibly have featured in a, now lost, section of the ‘Histories’.
A tombstone inscription from Cyrene commemorates one C. Julius Karus, a military tribune of Legio III Cyrenaica, who had, before his posting to north Africa, been prefect of Cohors II Asturum (the 2nd Cohort of Asturians) and had been highly decorated in a “British war”. At one time it was thought that Karus must have earned his decorations between 89 and 117. The latter date, 117, because Hadrian, who became emperor in that year, was rather stingy with his awards, and III Cyrenaica moved to Arabia during his reign. The former date, 89, is based on the assumption that the 2nd Cohort of Asturians was until then, at the earliest, based in Germany. It now seems, however, that at that time there were two 2nd Cohorts of Asturians – one in Germany and another in Britain – so the date of Karus' “British war” is suddenly rather less constricted. Whilst he could have received his honours during the last years of Domitian, the brief reign of Nerva (96–98) or the reign of Trajan (98–117), as is often suggested, he could also have received them earlier – perhaps at Mons Graupius with Agricola.
Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian succeeded Trajan as emperor in 117.
A copper ‘as’ of Hadrian, dated 119/120. Britannia is armed with spear and shield, she is wrapped in a cloak, sitting on a pile of rocks (which probably symbolize mountainous terrain).
Photograph courtesy of
the British Museum.
“On taking possession of the imperial power Hadrian at once resumed the policy of the early emperors, and devoted his attention to maintaining peace throughout the world. For the nations which Trajan had conquered began to revolt; the Moors, moreover, began to make attacks, and the Sarmatians to wage war, the Britons could not be kept under Roman sway, Egypt was thrown into disorder by riots, and finally Libya and Palestine showed the spirit of rebellion.”
Aelius Spartianus Historia Augusta’ Hadrian Chapter 5
Hadrian transferred Quintus Pompeius Falco, the governor of Moesia Inferior, to Britain in 118. An inscription, from Ferentinum in Italy, records the involvement of thousand-man detachments from the VII Gemina, VIII Augusta and XXII Primigenia legions in a “British expedition” at about this time. Coins issued in 119–120, for the first time depicting the figure of Britannia, the personification of the Island, are widely believed to commemorate Falco's success in Britain. It would appear, however, that it was an expensive victory. In a letter written to Marcus Aurelius, in 162, Marcus Cornelius Fronto comments:
“... under the rule of your grandfather Hadrian what a number of soldiers were killed by the Jews, what a number by the Britons!”
A fragmentary inscription from Vindolanda – on a tombstone which had been incorporated into the fabric of a later (4th century) phase of construction – seemingly, records that T. Annius, a centurion acting as commander of a cohort of Tungrians, was “killed in the war”. There was, then, certainly warfare in the vicinity of the Stanegate, and Hadrian's actions would seem to add substance to the notion that this area was the seat of the British wars alluded to in the various literary and epigraphic references.
Unlike other emperors, Hadrian toured widely in the Empire. In 121 he left Rome:
“... he travelled to the provinces of Gaul, and came to the relief of all the communities with various acts of generosity; and from there he went over into Germany...
... having reformed the army quite in the manner of a monarch, he set out for Britain, and there he corrected many abuses and was the first to construct a wall, eighty miles in length, which was to separate the barbarians from the Romans.”
Aelius Spartianus  ‘Historia Augusta’ Hadrian Chapters 10 & 11
Hadrian arrived in Britain in 122. He was probably accompanied by the newly appointed governor, his friend and ex-governor of Germania Inferior (Lower Germany), Aulus Platorius Nepos. (Nepos is known, from a military diploma, to have been in Britain by 17th July 122.) Hadrian instructed Nepos to build a wall along the Tyne-Solway line.
“After arranging matters in Britain he [Hadrian] crossed over to Gaul ...”*
Aelius Spartianus  ‘Historia Augusta’ Hadrian Chapter 12
Hadrian's Wall was built slightly north of the Stanegate. Excavation has revealed that the original plan was for a stone wall, 10 feet wide, between modern central Newcastle and the river Irthing. Between the Irthing and Bowness-on-Solway the wall was to be built with turf blocks – the traditional method for such military structures. There was to be a fortlet every mile, hence they are
Hadrian's Wall snakes away to the west of Housesteads.
Where it fronts onto the crags of the Whin Sill, there is no ditch.
known as ‘milecastles’ – they were, in effect, fortified gateways – with two turrets spaced evenly between each pair of milecastles. A V-shaped ditch was to run in front of the wall (i.e. to its north), except where cliffs made it unnecessary. Probably also part of the initial scheme: a line of fortlets and towers, but no wall, continuing down the coast from Bowness to, at least, Maryport. A couple of years into the project (i.e. c.124), however, changes were made. The stone wall was built to a reduced width of 8 feet – presumably to speed up construction. It was decided that some forts should be added, which involved the demolition of newly built sections of wall, milecastles and turrets. To the south of the wall and forts a substantial ditch-and-mound barrier, called the Vallum, was constructed. The stone wall was extended 4 miles eastwards from Newcastle, to a new terminus at Wallsend. Epigraphic evidence from the Wall suggests that the majority of the work was carried out during Nepos' tenure as governor – which cannot have extended much beyond mid-127, since a diploma names Britain's governor as Trebius Germanus on 20th August 127.


On the western, 31 Roman mile long, turf section of the Wall, though the milecastles were of turf and timber construction, the turrets were built in stone. The reason for the east-west division of building techniques is not known. It has been suggested that a lack of limestone in the west, required for mortar, could be part of the reason. However, turf construction was the usual military method, and it is conceivable that some of the Wall had already been built in the that way before Hadrian's arrival and personal intervention. Architecture was a particular interest of Hadrian, so it is not unreasonable to assume that his opinions dictated the initial design of the Wall. Indeed, the bridge over the Tyne, which was the Wall's original eastern terminus, was called Pons Aelius after Hadrian. (Hadrian's full name was Publius Aelius Hadrianus. Aelius is the family name, i.e. surname, component.) The fort at Newcastle (which was detached from the Wall), also called Pons Aelius, was a much later addition – at the end of the 2nd or early in the 3rd century.
Excavations of the berm (the ledge between wall and ditch) in the Newcastle area have, since 2000, uncovered rows of postholes. It is usually suggested that they held obstacles, such as branched, sharpened, stakes – acting like barbed wire would today. A more recent theory (Geoff Carter, July 2009) is that they are the remains of a ‘box rampart’, which was erected as a temporary barrier whilst the stone wall was built behind it.
The Vallum comprises a steep-sided, flat-bottomed, ditch, some 9 feet deep and 20 feet wide, with a 20 foot wide mound around 30 feet distant on either side. For much of its length, there is a third mound, the so called ‘marginal mound’, on the southern edge of the ditch. It used to be thought that this smaller mound was the result of later ditch cleaning operations, but it is now believed to be contemporary with the rest of the Vallum. Where topography allows, the Vallum runs close to the Wall, and in these sections it loops around the Wall's forts – hence the Vallum cannot predate the forts. The fort at Carvoran was one of the earlier Stanegate forts, kept on for service as a Wall fort. Consequently, it was detached, by some 240 yards from the Wall. Here, the Vallum runs between fort and Wall. At Castlesteads, however, where the fort is 140 yards further from the Wall (it is not known whether this fort has pre-Hadrianic origins), the Vallum diverts to encompass it. At any rate, elsewhere, such as in the central section where the Wall sits atop Whin Sill, the Vallum runs in long straight stretches on the nearest feasible line. At its greatest distance, it is around ½ mile from the Wall. Crossing it was apparently only possible by causeways at the Wall's forts, so access to what seems to be a secure zone, between Vallum and Wall, could be rigorously controlled.
Inscriptions commemorate contributions by the 6th Legion (Legio VI Victrix Pia Fidelis), which probably transferred to Britain from Germania Inferior with Nepos, 2nd Legion and 20th Legion to the construction of Hadrian's Wall, but not the 9th Legion (Legio IX Hispana). An inscription from York places the 9th in Britain in 108, so it is generally assumed that they were withdrawn between then and 122. *
The fort at Carrawburgh was added as an afterthought, since it overlies the Vallum. A fragmentary inscription might indicate that it was built in the early 130s. Apparently before the end of Hadrian's reign (i.e. by 138), a 5 mile section of turf wall, west from the Irthing, was rebuilt in stone. No part of the Hadrian's Wall has survived intact, but it is generally estimated to have been about 15 feet high – probably topped by a walkway and a parapet on the northern side. Beyond the Wall, ‘outpost-forts’ at Birrens, Netherby and Bewcastle were garrisoned.


The inscription from Carrawburgh is very incomplete, but it is thought that it might name Sextus Julius Severus as governor at the time of building. His tenure was c.131–c.133.* Nepos is the only Hadrianic governor who is definitely named in inscriptions from the Wall. A dedicatory inscription from the fort at Great Chesters refers to Hadrian as “P[ater] P[atriae]” (Father of his Country), a title he accepted in 128 – suggesting that the fort was not completed until then at the earliest. Hadrian had, however, been offered, but had turned down, the title previously. There are instances where inscriptions from before 128 credit him with the title though he hadn't officially accepted it – for example, a milestone from Thurmaston, near Leicester, is dated 120, but acknowledges Hadrian as “P[ater] P[atriae]”. The fort at Great Chesters, then, could, but not necessarily, have been completed after 128.
When the 5 mile section of turf wall was rebuilt in stone, late in Hadrian's reign, the ex-Stanegate fort at Carvoran was also rebuilt in stone. The fort at Birdoswald, the first fort west of the Irthing, too, was similarly rebuilt (though the work might not have been completed at this time). Birdoswald was connected by road to the outpost-fort at Bewcastle. The other two outposts were accessed from Carlisle. (Perhaps one purpose of these outpost-forts was to maintain control of those Brigantes who were now marooned beyond the Wall.) Carlisle may well have been area headquarters – Tab 250 from Vindolanda, with its reference to “Annius Equester, centurion in charge of the region, at Luguvalium [Carlisle]” certainly indicates that was the case before the Wall was built. There were two main routes through the Wall. One was from Carlisle, the other was the Roman road known as Dere Street. Dere Street began in York, passed through Corbridge and crossed the Wall at a substantial gateway (the site is now called Portgate) ½ mile west of the fort at Halton Chesters. It is assumed that there would have been a similar gateway at the western end of the fort at Stanwix.
The two forts which complete the Wall's complement of sixteen are considerably later additions. Both date from the end of the 2nd or early in the 3rd century. They are the, previously mentioned, fort at Newcastle and the fort at Burgh-by-Sands. This latter Wall fort apparently superseded a fort sited over ½ mile to the south. A fort was built on the south bank of the mouth of the Tyne, at South Shields, c.160, but it is thought that there is an earlier, yet to be discovered, fort in the vicinity.
The Antonine Wall
On 10th July 138 Hadrian died. He was succeeded by Antoninus Pius.
“He waged a number of wars, but all of them through his legates. For Lollius Urbicus, his legate, overcame the Britons and built a second wall, one of turf, after driving back the barbarians.”
Julius Capitolinus  ‘Historia Augusta’ Antoninus Pius Chapter 5
A bronze sestertius of Antoninus Pius, dating late-142 to 144. Britannia is holding a legionary standard in her right hand, with the legend IMPERATOR II arching around her.
Antoninus Pius was actually Hadrian's second choice as successor (his first choice, Lucius Aelius, died on 1st January 138), and Antoninus may have felt that he needed an immediate military success to boost his prestige with the army and secure his position. At any rate, he soon ordered Quintus Lollius Urbicus, governor of Britain, to abandon Hadrian's frontier, to retake southern Scotland and to build a new frontier wall on the Forth-Clyde line – inscriptions testify to rebuilding at Corbridge, under Urbicus, in 139 and 140, presumably preparatory to the advance. Urbicus duly delivered Antoninus a victory – probably in the summer of 142, at which time the emperor was acclaimed ‘Imperator for the second time’. The event was marked by the issue of commemorative coins. Southern Scotland was again under Roman occupation.


In sharp contrast to Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, in over twenty-two years as emperor, never left Italy. Marcus Cornelius Fronto apparently made a speech (possibly delivered in 142, at the time he became consul) in which he praised Antoninus on his British success. The speech itself no longer exists, but it is referred to in the, late-3rd century, ‘Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’.
“At this point it enters my mind how pampered by good luck in administrating the State and obtaining praise were those leaders who, while spending their days at Rome, had triumphs and cognomina of nations conquered by their generals accrue to them. Thus when Fronto ... was praising the ruler Antoninus for having brought the war in Britain to completion, although he had remained behind in the City in the palace itself, and had delegated the command of the war to others, he averred that the Emperor deserved the glory of its whole launching and course, as if he had actually presided at the helm of a warship.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 14 (Anonymous)
The Antonine Wall looking west from Rough Castle. The rampart is on the left and the ditch on the right.
Photograph courtesy of the Armatura Press.
The new wall, known as the Antonine Wall after the emperor, ran across the narrow neck of land between the Forth (Bo'ness) and Clyde (Old Kilpatrick) – a distance of some 40 Roman miles (half the length of Hadrian's Wall). The Wall was built from turf blocks, and was 15 feet wide at the base. This is narrower than the turf section of Hadrian's Wall, which was 20 feet wide, but the structure of the Antonine Wall was rather more sophisticated, having a stone foundation with built in drainage culverts. The turf rampart is estimated to have been around 10–12 feet high, with, presumably, a wooden walkway and parapet on top. The V-shaped ditch to its north, at up to 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, was a more imposing feature than the ditch at Hadrian's Wall. The material dug from the ditch, piled up on the northern lip (‘glacis’), enhanced the obstruction. It seems that, initially, the idea was to have six forts (known as the ‘primary forts’) spaced along the rampart, with intervening fortlets (no turrets). Just as at Hadrian's Wall, however, the plan changed, and an extra eleven, generally smaller, forts were added. To the south of the rampart was the Military Way – a road running the whole length of the Wall.


Beyond the ditch and glacis at Rough Castle is an area of closely spaced pits, aligned like laid bricks to prevent a straight passage through them, which would have held pointed stakes – a type of trap known as ‘lilia’ (lilies). In places, similar pits have been found on the berm.
Photograph courtesy of the Armatura Press.
The Antonine Wall's six primary forts, approximately eight miles apart, were at: Carriden, Mumrills, Castlecary, Bar Hill or Auchendavy (it isn't clear which of these two is the primary), Balmuildy and Old Kilpatrick. At Inveravon, there are certainly the remains of a military structure – in all likelihood, but not proven to be, a fort. With the exception of the fort at Bar Hill, all the forts on the Wall employ the Wall itself as their northern rampart.* Bar Hill is detached from the Wall – set to the south, on the brow of a hill. By and large, the forts had turf ramparts but stone principal buildings. Just two forts, at Castlecary and Balmuildy, had stone ramparts. There are at least six southward extensions of the rampart, referred to as ‘expansions’, the purpose of which is not clear, though, perhaps, beacon platforms is the most likely suggestion.
Inscriptions on decorated ‘distance slabs’ commemorate the efforts of the 2nd, 6th and 20th legions to the construction of the Antonine Wall. Lollius Urbicus is named on two building inscriptions from the fort at Balmuildy (no other governor is named). It seems likely, however, that having achieved a victory and inaugurated the Wall's construction, he was immediately recalled from Britain.


The left-hand panel symbolises the might of Rome crushing the naked barbarians. The right-hand panel depicts the Suovetaurilia – the sacrifice of a pig, a ram and a bull, which would precede a major military campaign.
The distance slab pictured right was found in 1868, near Bridgeness Tower, Bo'ness. It measures approximately 9 feet by 3, and is in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. The central panel bears the inscription:
Which translates as:
“For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of his Country, the 2nd Legion Augusta built this for 4,652 paces.”
As restored, the inscription translates:
“For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of his Country, thrice consul [erased lines] the 1st Cohort of Cugerni [set this up]. From Trimontium . . . miles.”
The remains of the ‘Ingliston Milestone’ (Ingliston is on the western outskirts of Edinburgh) bear an inscription (pictured left) which apparently dates from the years 140–144, when Antoninus Pius was COS III (i.e. consul for the 3rd time). Two lines have been deliberately and neatly erased from the inscription, suggesting that they named someone – presumably the governor of Britain at the time the milestone was erected – who was subsequently disgraced, and was obliterated from official monuments. This certainly could not be Urbicus, but a person who could neatly fit the bill is one Cornelius Priscianus. As recorded by the ‘Fasti Ostienses’ (a, fragmentary, inscribed-stone calendar/chronicle from Ostia), this individual was denounced by the Senate, on 15th September 145, for “hostile action disturbing the peace of the province of Spain”. Julius Capitolinus (‘Historia Augusta’ Antoninus Pius Chapter 7) notes that: “Priscianus did indeed die for aspiring to the throne, but by his own hand”. It is generally accepted that, at the time of his downfall, Priscianus was governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. It seems a reasonable hypothesis that Priscianus replaced Urbicus, as governor of Britain, in late-142 or 143, and then transferred to Spain early in 145. Be that as it may, in 146 the governor of Britain, named in a diploma, was Papirius Aelianus.
Outpost-forts north of the Antonine Wall were garrisoned – the sites of earlier forts at Camelon, less than a mile north of the Wall, and Ardoch, Strageath and Bertha, all three on the Gask Ridge, being reused. Hadrian's Wall was, for the time being anyway, redundant – milecastle gates were removed and the Vallum was slighted (i.e. crossing places were made, by digging gaps in the mounds and using the earth to make a causeway across the ditch, at frequent intervals). Troops that had been garrisoned in northern England were now in southern Scotland, and it may be that hostile factions of the Brigantes took advantage of this new situation. In his ‘Description of Greece’, mid-2nd century Greek traveler and geographer, Pausanias remarks that Antoninus Pius:
“... never willingly involved Rome in a war... He annexed the greater part of the territory of the Brigantes in Britain, because the Brigantes started an invasion of Genounia, which is subject to Rome.”
‘Description of Greece’ Book VIII Chapter 43
A bronze dupondius of Antoninus Pius, dated 154/155. Britannia appears to be holding her hand to her forehead in sorrow.
Perhaps, then, a rebellion of the Brigantes was put down – coins of 154–155, showing a dejected looking Britannia, probably commemorate a recent Roman victory in Britain. Pausanias' comment, though, is difficult to make sense of. He implies that the Brigantes were outside the province of Britannia, which, of course, they weren't – unless he means the small minority who had been isolated beyond the frontier, i.e. Hadrian's Wall, at the very beginning of Antoninus' reign. Maybe it was these outsiders' attacks on the province, in cahoots with other hostile northerners, that had prompted Antoninus to order the advance to the Forth-Clyde line in the first place, and it is to that which Pausanias is referring. Either way, what is meant by “Genounia” is not known. (The Brigantii – based around the modern city of Bregenz, Austria – of the province of Raetia, had neighbours called the Genauni, so it could be that Pausanias had confused the Brigantes/Brigantii.)
Hadrian's Wall recommissioned
The Antonine Wall would appear to have been ‘a bridge too far’ for the Romans. The evidence is rather nebulous, but it seems that from the mid-150s there was a gradual withdrawal to the Tyne-Solway line. For instance, a now lost inscription, dated 158, apparently referred to rebuilding on Hadrian's Wall, but a coin dated 164–9, from a granary of the fort at Old Kilpatrick, suggests that occupation of the Antonine Wall continued. (There is a theory that the Antonine Wall and southern Scotland were abandoned for a time in the later-150s, in response to the supposed Brigantian revolt, and then reoccupied.) Antoninus Pius died in 161. He was succeeded by Marcus Aurelius.
“... war was threatening in Britain, and the Chatti had burst into Germany and Raetia. Against the Britons Calpurnius Agricola was sent; against the Chatti, Aufidius Victorinus.”
Julius Capitolinus  ‘Historia Augusta’ Marcus Antoninus the Philosopher Chapter 8
Sextus Calpurnius Agricola is named on several inscriptions from the north of England, but none in Scotland. Two of the inscriptions are from Corbridge – one of which, as restored anyway, is dated 163 (the other dedicates a building to “the Unconquered Sun-god”). Two of them are from Carvoran on Hadrian's Wall – one on an altar to “the Syrian Goddess”, set up by the 1st Cohort of Hamians (a unit of archers from Syria). Calpurnius Agricola's tenure as governor of Britain probably ended c.166, and, on balance, it seems likely that it was him who oversaw the final Roman departure from the Antonine Wall and the recommissioning of Hadrian's Wall.
As well as refurbishment of the existing infrastructure, modifications were made to Hadrian's Wall – the remaining turf section was rebuilt in stone and a road (as at the Antonine Wall, called the Military Way), connecting all the forts and milecastles, was constructed between the Wall and the Vallum.* As before, outpost-forts were garrisoned – forts at Birrens, Netherby and Bewcastle, in the west, were joined by others – at Risingham, High Rochester, Cappuck and Newstead – along the line of Dere Street, in the east.
Beginning of the End?    
Juvenal ‘Satires’ by G.G. Ramsay
‘Historia Augusta’ by David Magie
Dio Cassius ‘Romaika’ by Earnest Cary
Pausanias ‘Description of Greece’ by Peter Levi
Julius Caesar ‘The Gallic War’ by T. Rice Holmes
Suetonius ‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ by J.C. Rolfe
‘The Correspondence of Marcus Cornelius Fronto’ by C.R. Haines
Tacitus ‘Histories’ by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Statius ‘Praises of Crispinus, son of Vettius Bolanus’ by D.R. Shackleton Bailey
Anonymous ‘Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ by C.E.V Nixon and Barbara Saylor Rodgers
In a paper entitled ‘Agricola: he came, he saw, but did he conquer?’ (2005).
Dacia: modern Romania (more or less). Eventually annexed by Trajan in 106.
Moesia: Roman province – roughly, Serbia, part of Macedonia and part of Bulgaria. Southern neighbour of Dacia. Moesia was divided into two provinces (Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior) by Domitian, during his Dacian war (85–89).
‘Excavations at the Roman Fort of Newstead, 1947’ by Prof. Ian A. Richmond:
“Legionary swords and a helmet came from pit LVII, below the Baths, in association with first-century pottery. On the other hand, this pit also produced unmistakable auxiliaries' equipment. Thus, if legionaries were in garrison at this epoch, they were not alone. The condition of the armour, moreover, was eloquent of disaster, and this corresponds to the evidence pointing to firing of the buildings, in the form of burnt wattle-and-daub.”
‘Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’ Vol 84 (1949–50)
Julius Caesar (‘The Gallic War’ Book IV Chapters 33) described British chariot tactics:
“Chariots are used in action in the following way. First of all the charioteers drive all over the field, the warriors hurling missiles; and generally they throw the enemy's ranks into confusion by the mere terror inspired by their horses and the clatter of the wheels. As soon as they have penetrated between the troops of [their own] cavalry, the warriors jump off the chariots and fight on foot. The drivers meanwhile gradually withdraw from the action, and range the cars in such a position that, if the warriors are hard pressed by the enemy's numbers, they may easily get back to them. Thus they exhibit in action the mobility of cavalry combined with the steadiness of infantry; and they become so efficient from constant practice and training that they will drive their horses at full gallop, keeping them well in hand, down a steep incline, check and turn them in an instant, run along the pole, stand on the yoke, and step backwards again to the cars with the greatest nimbleness.”
Suggestions that the 9th was annihilated in Britain, at the beginning of Hadrian's reign, have been dismissed – there are tombstone inscriptions of officers who were still in service c.130. There is evidence (in the form of stamped tiles) from Nijmegen (now in the Netherlands, then in Germania Inferior) to suggest that they transferred there from Britain. An inscription from Rome lists all the Empire's legions in geographical sequence. Since two legions founded c.165, by Marcus Aurelius, are not in their proper positions, but tagged on the end (along with three legions created, in 197, by Septimius Severus), the list was probably originally compiled before 165. At any rate, the 9th is not included, so the inference must be that it was destroyed or disbanded by 165.
“... when the poet Florus wrote to him [Hadrian]:
“I don't want to be a Caesar,
Stroll about among the Britons,
[Lurk about among the . . .]
And endure the Scythian winters,”
he [Hadrian] wrote back:
“I don't want to be a Florus,
Stroll about among the taverns,
Lurk about among the cook-shops,
And endure the round fat insects.” ”
Aelius Spartianus ‘Historia Augusta’ Hadrian Chapter 16
Roman miles. A Roman mile (i.e. ‘mille passus’ – literally ‘a thousand paces’), at about 1,620 yards, is a little shorter than the standard mile of today (1,760 yards). 80 Roman miles equates to around 73 modern miles or 118 kilometres.
“Soon, however, all Judaea had been stirred up, and the Jews everywhere were showing signs of disturbance ... Hadrian sent against them his best generals. First of these was Julius Severus, who was dispatched from Britain, where he was governor, against the Jews.”
Dio Cassius (Xiphilinus) ‘Romaika’ Epitome of Book LXIX Chapter 13
The above is a reference to the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–135.
Presumably the 1st Cohort of Tungrians – the unit that replaced the 9th Cohort of Batavians at Vindolanda in about 105.
See: Vindolanda.
‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ Domitian Chapter 10.
The Asturians' homeland was in north-western Iberia.
Named after a passage in Julius Caesar's ‘The Gallic War’ (Book VII Chapter 73):
“In front of them, arranged in slanting rows in the form of a quincunx, pits were dug, three feet deep, which tapered gradually towards the bottom. Smooth logs, as thick as a man's thigh, sharpened at the top and hardened by fire, were planted in them, projecting not more than four fingers above the ground. At the same time the earth was trampled down to the depth of one foot above the bottom, to keep them firmly in position; while the rest of the pit was covered with twigs and brushwood to hide the trap. There were eight rows of this kind, three feet apart. The men called them “lilies”, from their resemblance to that flower.”
The easternmost fort of the system, at Carriden, is apparently sited about ¾ mile from the end of the Wall itself. The exact point where the rampart terminates has not yet been found, but has traditionally been placed in the vicinity of Bridgeness Tower, Bo'ness, where, in 1868, a massive ‘distance slab’ was found.
The Roman fort at Newstead, on Dere Street.
The Cugerni were from the west bank of the Lower Rhine – around the modern German town of Xanten.
Noted for his Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius was the adopted son of Antoninus Pius – indeed, though he is generally known as Marcus Aurelius today, he can also be called Marcus Antoninus. He amicably shared power with Lucius Verus, also an adopted son of Antoninus Pius, until Verus' death in 169.
With the passing of time, confusion arose concerning the origins of both Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall. It is, perhaps, remarkable that the wall now known to be Hadrian's Wall was not positively identified until the 19th century.
See: The Wall of Severus.
The fort at Cappuck (the 4th on the site) was very small – internally, some 210 by 240 feet (an area of just over an acre).
Some forts straddle the line of Hadrian's Wall. At these sites, e.g. Halton Chesters, about one third of the fort projects north of the Wall itself.
See: New Empires.