Hitting Hadrian’s Wall

I’m in the research portion of my Moor Inspirationtrip now. As you know, I’m exploring various historic sites and determining possible places to use in Eboracum Book V. I’m looking at the area around Dumfries, taking in the Antonine Wall (known as Vallum Antonini to the Romans), and following Dag’s route to where he fought the Dumnoni.

Picture of Hadrian's wall at Cuddy's Crags and Housesteads Crags.
Hadrian’s Wall at Cuddy’s Crags and Housesteads Crags.

Excerpt No Turning Back: Eboracum Book IV

Dag hadn’t seen the like since he’d been wounded coming on two years back, fighting the Hibernians when they raided Glannoventa on the west coast, just south of the Great Wall. There had to be at least a thousand now facing them, and perhaps even half as many again. The deep, raucous ranks of warriors were doubtless lined up by tuath and by kin, maybe three hundred paces to the west at the foot of a long, gently sloped pasture. More wild and gutsy fighters you’d not find anywhere, Dag told himself as he watched the Dumnonii tribesmen slowly work themselves into a frenzy. And it was all so familiar: each man building his courage, adding voice to the roaring, thunderous din, backed by an endless clamour of thumping shields, stamping feet, and a screeching chorus of threats, insults, and loathing. And here he was, hoping his Picts would stand fast…

I’ll also head to Carlisle to see what’s left of the Roman fort there, Luguvalium. In No Turning Back, a young Dumnoni rider had trouble remembering this fort’s name.

“They’re running, probably from the Romans,” Dag interrupted, his eye firmly on those of the young Dumoni. “What happened to their ships, lad? They get caught in their own net?”

The man raised his eyebrows in surprise, but that was all. He seemed to consider his answer at far too much length, and even then he glanced first at Tarain before giving it. The ailing chieftain gave a barely perceptible nod, possibly because he figured it would be the only way he might learn what was going on. “Yes. They’re running. From the Romans. They’re throwing themselves on Talorcan’s mercy. They’re even willing to fight for him, but that would depend on what the Romans do.” The Dumnoni rider shrugged. “Me, I think they’re all panicking. I don’t think the Romans will follow them all the way to the coast. Too risky.”

“You do, huh?” Galam was scornful.

The man shrugged his indifference. “Don’t take my word. Talorcan figures they won’t, either. He figures they’d be afraid of getting themselves in too deep. He’s being careful, though. He’s moving our people south to stop them if they do.”

“How many Romans are there? And those ships. What really happened to their ships?” Dag glanced impatiently toward Galam, which was becoming annoying. The Roman’s expression said it was time to be moving north again, no matter how many of the enemy were out there. But if all them, Talorcan, the Scotti and the Romans, started fighting each other, there was likely an advantage to be had.

“The Scotti say they don’t know how many, exactly.” The Dumnoni rider shrugged with a nonchalance that told Galam the fellow likely had rank of some kind. “Enough to trap more than a thousand Scotti into abandoning their ships, and head inland. And certainly enough to risk following behind. How many would that be? Two, four, maybe five thousand? Nobody’s seen them except the Scotti.”

“So what did happen?”

“The Scotti sailed into the mouth of the Nithia, bent on raiding the town there. That’s in Novantae territory. It’s a fair way upriver to reach the town, and even then the tide has to be exactly right, just to get close. Someone must have sent word to the Romans, because they marched for a full day and into the night, all the way from that big fort at the end of their wall. Lugle…Luger…”

Luguvalium,” Dag suggested.

I’ll definitely hit Hadrian’s Wall, (not literally of course but literarily) and then drive to the ocean off Bridlington. This is where Bren is wounded early in Book IV. I called it North of Praetorio in No Turning Back and wrote an explanation in Appendix III, Place Names and Detail.

Picture of North Landing, Sea, Bridlington, Yorkshire.
North Landing, Sea, Bridlington, Yorkshire

Praetorio (or Praetorium): the site of this fort has not been verified, but in the book it has been placed at a location that seems favoured by most historians: close by Bridlington, on the east coast, about 40 miles east and slightly north of Eboracum. It was later a base for one of the smaller legions of the comitatenses (See Appendix I). It was likely manned by a Gallic mobile infantry/cavalry unit, specifically formed to deal with the changing threat status of the later occupation.

I’m headed home to Canada at the end of this month. I’ll answer any question you have about my trip. Ask me in the comment section below.