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Last Record of Vindolanda before Hedley; John Wallis, 1769
Topic Started: Oct 21 2010, 06:51 PM (814 Views)
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Actually, I am loath to doubt Harry in such matters, but I'm not so sure about the assertion that Hedley was the first author of the 19th century to write about Vindolanda.

There was William Hutton's account called "The History of the Roman Wall" published in 1802. It has about 6 pages on Vindolanda (pp. 242-7), or rather Vindolana [sic] as he calls it, otherwise known as Little Chesters. You can find the book on Google Books here: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_history_of_the_Roman_wall.html?id=gwQ2AAAAMAAJ.

There is also a very amusing account of the author's meal and night's accommodations at the Twice-Brewed on pp. 229-232.

I have transcribed the Vindolanda section, which follows:

Little Chesters.

I think myself bound to place Little Chesters among the Stations, that I may follow my predecessors, and not break their numerical order. Although Roman, and garrisoned by Romans, it does not appear to belong to the works of Severus. It stands nearly two miles South of the Wall.

Agricola erected Castles adjoining his works; but this stands nearly a mile south of his, therefore it could add no security.

It probably was used as a prison, and this is corroborated by a remark of our writers, "That there was discovered under a hear of rubbish a square room below the ground, strongly vaulted, and paved with large square stones, set in lime; and under this another room, whose roof was supported by rows of square pillars." These two rooms could answer no end but that of a prison.

There are four Stations, of the eighteen, smaller than the rest, which are detached from the Wall, and lie considerably to the South:

  • Little Chesters;
  • Carvoran;
  • Cambeck Fort; and
  • Watch Cross.

As Little Chesters is the first that occurs, it is necessary to speak of all the four.

Hadrian and Severus could have nothing to do with these. They were most probably the work of Agricola. That he made the banks and ditches I have described in his name, is not doubted. That he erected some Castles, is as clear; but, for many ages, all his ramparts, mounds, and Castles, have gone under the name of Hadrian's.

If he erected Castles and mounds, there must have been roads to communicate with them. It is reasonable then to conclude, that he was the author of all the roads appertaining to his Works.

A Roman road went from Walwick Chesters, directly to Little Chesters, and left Carrowburgh and Housesteads much on the right. It then from Little Chesters to Carvoran, leaving Great Chesters on the right, and directed its course to Cambeck Fort, leaving Burdoswald to the right, and then took its course to Watch Cross. All these four Stations lie to the South, totally distinct from Severus' Wall, or Stations; Agricola must have formed them for the accommodation of this works.

The road I have described is about eighteen miles; besides many smaller roads, which were connected with his grand undertaking. It may be considered as a string, and Severus' Wall, the bow. It ends in the great military way, and joins Severus's Wall, about four miles before we came to Carlisle, in all about twenty-eight miles.

Severus, afterwards, constructed a great number of roads now to be seen, which branched from this towards the North, and communicated with his Wall, Stations, &c.

The Wall, at Wall-green, takes a small turn, and continues about three feet high. broken as usual; and Severus's Ditch is in high preservation, as we rise the hill to the next Station.

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Entirely possible, Harry. Journalistic integrity in those days meant something very different than ... uhh, errr... well, let's not go there. :-)

In any event, it does strain credulity that a bona fide eyewitness would mistake the hypocaust for a "prison cell", particular if the person in question had any experience with Roman ruins, which Hutton presumably had.

As for the state of the fort, I wonder, what a visitor in 1801 would actually have been able to see on the surface?
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While doing some research I just came across another mention of Vindolanda during the interval between Horsley and Hedley. That would be Rev. J. Brand's History and antiquities of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne published in two volumes in 1789. In an Appendix entitled The Roman Wall, he describes all the forts along the way. On page 610, he describes Vindolanda, or as he calls it, Little Chesters:

From House-Steeds to the station of Little Chesters, which is considerably to the south of both the walls, it measures about a mile and three quarters. It stands close to the military way, which proceeds like the string of a bow, in a straight course from Wal∣wick-Chesters to Caervorran. I was at Little Chesters, October 8th, 1783, and found the ramparts and pretorium still distinguishable. A stone, with an inscription, which I could not make out, is built up in the western gable end of a cottage a little westward of this fort A remarkable pillar or milliary stone stands a little to the east of this station, adjoining to the military way of Severus. I was informed of another to the west of the station. I procured here a small stone, with the rude sculpture of a Roman soldier, holding a spear in one hand and a patera in the other, with some fragments of Roman pottery. I saw here also several ornamented fragments of stones--one in the form of a pine apple, and heard of No. XI. mentioned in Warburton, p. 7, line 7th..From Little Chesters to Great Chesters, the distance is three miles three quarters...

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