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OF BRONZE, FROM WALLTOWN CRAG.
broken at the top, are plainly visible. The thin plates of bronze or bell-metal slightly overlap as usual, and are of the normal size, seveneighths of an inch in length and half an inch in width, each being rounded at the bottom.
It was only, I may here add, the colour of the bronze rust, the scales being small, which attracted my attention ; in the same way as a tiny flake of the bronze-tipped sheath of a late Celtic (or perhaps early Saxon) long sword found in excavating an Ancient British circular dwelling in the Carry House camp, near Birtley, North Tynedale, many years since, led me to the discovery of the iron blade itself, lying broken in the hollow between the flagstones of the hut circle.?
A fortnight after the discovery of this fragment of Roman scalemail I was able, being in London, to compare it with the two similar specimens in the British Museum. In the collection from the camp, called by Mr. Roach Smith 'a model of Roman castrametation,'3 at Hodhill, near Blandford, Dorsetshire, four scales (detached) appear on a card (No. 242), on which two, on the left hand, which for ornament are tinned at the top, are nearly facsimiles of these from the Walltown Crag turret as to shape, size, and perforations. Near it, on the right, is a single plate, of squarer form, of similar length, but nearly double the width. Below these are two others, narrower than the last described, but with two holes at each side as well as at
(All full size.)
The only other specimen in the British museum is a larger fragment from a camp at Ham Hill, or Hamdon Hill,4 Somersetshire.
? Archaeologia, xlv. p. 358. “An Account of Ancient Circular Dwellings, near Birtley, Northumberland,' by the writer,
3 Proc. Somerset Arch, and Vat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxxii. p. 46.
* In the Index to the Archaeologia, vols. 1-50, p. 324, we find • Hamden Hill, Somersetshire, antiquities found at, xxi. 39. ' -Described by Sir Richard Colt Hoare.
Five of these scales only are there which are tinned alternately, and are very nearly of the same size as those exhibited here to-day. The original find consisted of two separate rows of bronze plates, the upper row not being as long as he attached lower row, the scales being eight and eighteen respectively in number, of which a photograph is shown in the same case. They were presented by Mr. Hugh Norris of South Petherton, local sec. Soc. Antiq. Lond., in 1886, to whose courtesy I am much indebted, and were described by him in the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society's Proceedings, vol. xxxii. p. 82, the remaining portion being in the collection of Mr. W. W. Walter of Stoke-under-Ham.
Thus it appears that only two places, in the south and west of England, have furnished to our national museum examples of this kind ; the proximity of the Devonshire and Cornish mines enabling the Romano-British or Roman armourer to add what must have been thought an additional ornament, not found in northern Britain as yet, so far as I am aware, to the cuirass, which would shine in its pristine brilliance with the silvery lustre of tin alternately with that of burnished bronze.
My attention has been further called by Mr. Blair to the few bronze links in the Black Gate museum from the Roman station at
5 Mr. Hugh Norris describes the Ham Hill camp as one of the largest, if not the very largest, in the country, its circumference being quite three miles, and its enclosed area comprising an extent of more than two hundred acres. He speaks of the numerous relics of the Pre-historic, old Celtic, and RomanoBritish inhabitants found here, bronze implements, and ancient British coins, etc.,' and adds :—Whilst of a later [Roman) date have been exhumed some very perfect and beautifully preserved fibulae, and an elegant little lamp of great rarity; also the still rarer remains of a lorica or shirt of scale-armour, and portions of a British chariot, all of bronze.'
(One half linear.) • Near Montacute, in Somerset, on ‘Ham Hill,' where are the remains of a Roman camp within the larger circuit of a still older British, an urn was found in 1882 filled with [Roman) coins, and another filled with medals. The whole find is above a hundred weight.' Roman Britain, chap. xix. p. 184, by the late Rev. Prebendary Scarth, M.A.
HOD HILL, DORSETSHIRE, AND HAM HILL, SOMERSETSHIRE. 445
South Shields, portions of a Roman cuirass of chain-mail, which I have examined with much interest, and, in another case in the same museum, to a great mass of iron chain-mail from the same place. These, however, are examples from the region of the mural barrier of the lorica catena, of links not scales.
Both were in contemporary use as necessary parts of the ordinary defensive armour of the Roman hastati, whose offensive weapons were strong, double-edged, sharp-pointed swords and heavy javelins, these being the heavy-armed infantry of the legion. “The greater number of the Hastati,' it is said, ' wore in front of their breast a brass plate nine inches square, which was called the heart-preserver (capoio yrólag); but those whose fortune exceed 100,000 asses (probably something over £200) had complete cuirasses of chain-armour (lorica).'
When we consider the thinness of the bronze plates of the Roman cuirass, such as I have shown, it might be deemed only an indifferent defence; but neither this scale-armour nor the chain-mail, in the opinion of high authorities, could be easily pierced by a sword-thrust. We may hope that the owner of this particular lorica (perchance the brave soldier of Hadrian or Severus), who kept watch and ward on the turret set on the bleak summit of the Walltown crag, lost this fragment before us by a simple accident or from the effects of use merely, and that it does not denote the loss of his life, “though in armour clad,' in one of the sudden and over-powering onslaughts of the fierce Britons, Picts, or Scots, from regions beyond the Wall. (Compare Roman Wall, 3rd edit. pp. 200, 201.)
It would not be desirable, and I have no intention, to trace the early history of the lorica; this, as is well known, can be adequately done by referring, among other authors of repute on this subject, to Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick's Critical Inquiry into Ancient Armour, and to its excellent accompanying plates. The cuirass went through various evolutionary stages, being first of quilted linen, useful for hunters and Homer's light-armed warriors.
Then the stronger material of horn came into use, which was cut into small pieces, planed, and polished and fastened, like feathers, upon linen shirts. These preceded the metallic scale-armour, the scales being sometimes
6 See Archaeologia, xix, pp. 120, 336, etc.
of iron or gold, as among the Persians (Herodotus, vii. 61 and ix. 22); but they were more commonly of bronze, like those before us (Virg. Aen. xi. 487, “Rutulum thoraca indutus aenis '), and occasionally consisted of thin plates of iron and hard leather (Tacitus, Hist. i. 79). • The basis of the cuirass was sometimes a skin or a piece of strong linen to which the metallic scales, or "feathers,' as they are also called, were sewed.' (Virg. Aen. xi. 770, 771, "clothed in a skin, clasped with gold, plumed with brazen scales.')
It may be worthy of remark, in conclusion, that in that very full description of the panoply of an ancient warrior of the eleventh century before Christ, in 1 Samuel xvii. 5, is the earliest mention of the lorica. The Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath, is described as wearing the Hebrew shir-yon? (rendered in the Septuagint by the Greek equivalent Oupag, and in the Vulgate by the Latin lorica) a coat of mail,' literally a “breastplate of scales,' being armour for defence, covering the body from the neck to the girdle or to the thighs in its fullest form. It is also an interesting fact that the ancient Roman lorica and the modern cuirass derive their name from the same material of which both were primarily made ; the former of the twisted lora or cut thongs of leather, then of leather itself, forming a leathern corselet; the latter, cuirass, expressing its origin directly from the self-same source in the French cuir, leather, as in every other Romance language, all arising indirectly from the Latin word corium, meaning the skin or hide of animals.
It has been well remarked that the enumeration of the Roman soldier's panoply by St. Paul in Ephesians vi. (excepting only the spear) exactly coincides with the figures of the armed soldiers sculptured upon the arch of Septimius Severus at Rome. First, there is the body-armour, namely, the girdle, the breastplate or lorica, the Apostle gives its Christian significance as the breastplate of righteousness,
? This is the same as Sirion, the name given to Mount Hermon, in the north of Palestine, by the Sidonians (Deut. iii. 9), which appears to have been taken from its resemblance to a ' breastplate,' just like the Greek Oupa, for the mountain, also called Sipylus in Magnesia, i.e. Lydia in Asia Minor (Gesenius's Hebrew and Eng. Lexicon, sub_voce). Compare Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. i. p. 111, drms; and Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 2nd ed. p. 711, Lorica, where is given an illustration of an Asiatic cuirass of scale-armour taken from Meyrick's Critical Inquiry into Ancient Armour (plate ii.); and a figure of a Roman imperial soldier so armed from Bartoli's Arcus Triumphales.
A FORGOTTEN REFERENCE TO ROMAN MILE-CASTLES.
and the shoes; next, the defensive arms, the shield and the helmet ; and lastly, the offensive weapon, the sword. This was the accoutrement which St. Paul had constantly before his eyes during his two years' (his first) imprisonment at Rome; when, though bound continually with a chain' to the soldier who kept him, a sentry who would often be relieved in his watch upon the prisoner, he was yet permitted to dwell in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him ' (Acts xxviii. 16, 30).
XXVII.-A FORGOTTEN REFERENCE TO ROMAN
[Read on the 28th February, 1894.] In the very valuable but extremely complicated notes appended by the Rev. John Hodgson to the account of the Roman Wall in his History of Northumberland is a passage said to be taken from a Treatise on the Art of War, written to Theodosius and his
sons, which at first sight reminds us more of the line of mile-castles and turrets along the crags from Walltown to Sewingshields than does anything else to be found in classical literature.
'Among the advantages to the state,' it says, “must be reckoned a care for frontiers on every side, whose security is best provided by a number of castles : so that they should be erected at the distance of every mile with a strong wall and stout towers, which fortifications the attention and care of the owners of the adjoining land will erect without charge to the public, keeping watch and ward of country people in them, that the repose of the provinces may remain secure within this circuit as it were of garrisons.'
It ought not perhaps to excite surprise that in the cause célèbre regarding the authorship of the Wall, the advocates of Hadrian and the advocates of Severus have not produced this passage in their more recent pleadings; but it is very strange that it should have been overlooked by the late Dean Merivale who so decidedly referred the construction of the Wall to the fourth century.
* II. jii. p. 278 n.; 1940.