Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Imperial Roman marching camps; Cawthorn Yorkshire England.

The Cawthorne camps is a group of four military fortifications constructed by the Roman army 1,900 years ago in North Yorkshire England. Consisting of a very clear earthen rampart fort to the west, butting up to an elongated camp to its east, there is a small gap of a forty or so yards then another fort and annexe were constructed to the east of these. It will not be obvious on satellite images of the very steep slope to the north dropping a few hundred feet!

Below are a  few pics of a Roman marching camp in North Yorkshire I visited today. There are really clear aerial pictures available on the internet of these four Roman camps circa 90AD to 130AD on google maps satellite view grid reference SE 782 893 east of the village of Cropton and 4 miles north east of the village Pickering, North Yorkshire, England.
Aerial view of two of Cawthorns four Roman camps.
Constructed of earth, these ramparts would have been topped off with sharpened wooden stakes, considering they are almost 2000 years old they've survived the times as well as WW2 tank drivers using them as practice slopes, the ramparts to the northern drop off to the valley below are still quite high in places  over 10 foot from top of rampart to bottom of ditch .

Info board at the site

bracket fungi
 An interesting foot note is that edible snails can often be found in England very close to the sites of Roman villas, a case of the Romans importing a cultural food delicacy.

the Roman camps are easily denoted by dry grass in winter  
Wooden stakes carried by each soldier would have topped the bank of earth, along with these stakes a Roman soldier would carry his armour usually chainmail (lorica hamata), a helmet, spear, shield (scutum), sword, dagger, mattock, turf cutter, skillet, mess can.kit bag and pole then be expected to build a temporary marching camp like this one at the end of the days march.
curved gateway or clavicula.

Ditch and banks still evident.

South facing rampart on the left of the picture

Rampart rounds corner

Eddie historically rein-acts the part of a Roman guard dog on patrol in one of the ditches of the camp

The camp is denoted by the dry grass area in winter
Rampart looking south
Ditch and rampart looking north

Wheeldale moor has a Roman road leading from this Roman camp to a possible Roman station on the coast maybe at Whitby.

The northern slope to the left drops a few hundred feet to the valley below
The Roman Empire succeeded in invading Britain in 43AD under the Emperor Claudius (Julius Caesar tried it twice but failed!) Invited in by the Belgae tribes already in Britain they spread north rapidly. The occupation of northern Britain held by the Celtic Brigantes tribe began in 71AD. Roman legions advanced to York (Eboracum) where they built a legionary fortress.   From there they set out to conquer northern Britain constructing a network of forts connected by military roads such as that at Wheeldale moor.

Wheeldale moor Roman road
With a great deal of difficulty we eventually found the Roman road coming from the opposite end from where the sign posts said it was i.e. near Goathland North Yorkshire Moors, the existing road lasts about  half a mile from Keys Beck and Wheeldale roads west of Cropton Forest.

Goathland is more famous for the setting of the English T.V. period drama programme 'Heartbeat' and also its Steam Railway station was used as Hogwarts Railway station in the first Harry Potter movies. A really pleasant area, I would live there if I could afford it though it was blooming freezing that day :)

The Roman road crossing Wheeldale moor.
Although I was sceptical as regards the Wheeldale Moor road being Roman, it isn't a coincidence that it falls along a line directly from York (the Roman city of Eboracum) the Cawthorne forts and Whitby one of the coastal stations on the east coast of northern Britain and a perfect port.

There are good pictures of this road on the internet, they have been allowed to be overgrown to protect them from erosion etc.

A comprehensive booklet detailing the 'Cawthorn Roman Camps Trail' can be obtained  from the 'New Inn' at Cropton village or The tourist information centre at Pickering priced £2.30

My next post will detail 15th century frescos of men at arms and archers of the time of Edward IV and the wars of the Roses, photographed from fresco paintings on the walls of the church of St.Peter & St.Paul Pickering North Yorkshire.

Cheers for now.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

HADRIAN'S WALL; 'Housesteads' Roman Fort and a 16th century 'Bastle House'

Housteads Roman Fort Hadrian's Wall.
A quick visit to Hadrians wall in Northumberland just north of the towns of Haltwhistle and Hexham on the 14th of January 2015 provided some inspiring views. A notoriously troublesome area made famous by the Roman garrisoning of the area circa 125AD-400AD against the Picts as well as the much later Border Reiver 'wars' of the 13-17th century. The Fort lies along the wall and had a garrison of approximately 800 auxiliary soldiers, many civilian buildings were found just outside the walls.
Housesteads Roman fort from the South. Hadrians wall is just over the ridge.

An auxliary force of Tungrians (an ancient German tribe supplying the Roman Empire with recruits) are known to have been its garrison.
a shallow valley below Housesteads Fort
Several temples were known to have been located below the Fort in this area.
The 16th century Bastle House a re-used (Roman) tower at Housesteads
One of the roman southern gatehouse towers converted to a Bastle house, these were fortified refuges to protect homesteads during the Border Reiver scourge of the 16th century.
Bastle House info plaque

Inside the fort looking north; The Roman Commandant's House

inside the fort looking northwest

the granary looking east

Hadrian's wall looking west

Hadrian's wall looking north east

info plaque in the snow!
Although the weather was bit snowy when I was in Northumberland last week, I followed the A68 south (so obviously a Roman road, drive it and you'll see why) from my visit to the medieval Otterburn Battlefield. The last few miles were along the A6079 to Chester's Roman fort then followed the B6318 west along the course of Hadrian's wall, the earth works sometimes cross the modern road. A temple of Mithras appears to the left of the road and then Housesteads Museum appears shortly afterwards on the right. Considering it is midwinter the Museum and shop were open and full access granted to visitors (£6.50 admission fee), some people where coming off the wall and me, my sister and her two dogs ran around in the snow. The museum houses a good variety of Roman artifacts found when the wall was excavated. Well worth a visit of a couple of hours. The English heritage 48 page full colour guide to Housesteads cost me just £3.50 a bargain I think. Anyhow with a couple of books under my arm I left the site with the intention of returning to see all the things I had missed on this first visit. Apparently Vindolanda has a very good museum so that'll be good for a visit when it re-opens 7th february 2015.

The Roman Mile Towers can be seen sporadically as we progressed westwards along the B6318 road, it is quite surprising how much is left after it was abandoned sixteen hundred years ago.

Further west are Vindolanda closed for the winter, The Roman army museum and even further west Birdswold's Roman Fort.

I'll write a bit on 13th-16th century 'Bastle Houses' and 'Peel' (or Pele) towers in Northumberland in a future blog post, these defences against the Reiver scourge numbered around 76 in number, though few survive today.

All the Best, Peter.

Monday, 12 January 2015

28mm Napoleonic French Artillery late Napoleonic

I'm still in the process of moving into Northern England county Durham so my painting and collecting has had a major break, this will give me some time to catch up on my blog posts since November last year.

The French Artillery - Napoleon's Imperial Guard Horse Artillery.
The French Army will be reinforced with Napoleons Guard Horse Artillery, Line Horse artillery and Line Foot artillery.

Each artillery battery will be made up of 3 guns with 4 crewmen per gun. The guns comprising 2x 6 pounder long guns and 1x short barrelled howitzer.

The French organization and uniforms will represent 1812-1815 period that gives me a greater scope for battles

Guard Horse artillery laying a howitzer
tiny blue grenade devices were painted onto the uniform coat tails after I took the photos.
Each crewman was painted on a strip before super glueing to the plasticard gun base.

crew in act of firing a piece

The French Artillery - Napoleon's Line Horse Artillery.

French Line horse artillery aiming a 6 pounder gun.
Just like the Guard artillery this battery will compose 2x 6pounder long guns and 1x howitzer with 4 crewmen per gun. Basing 80mm depth x 60mm across with various grass, bush, rock and dirt effects.

The French Artillery - Napoleon's Line Foot Artillery.
French line foot artillery crew in act of loading a 6 pounder long gun.
The 'gun captain' has his thumb over the vent to ensure stray sparks don't set the gun off prematurely. 

French line foot artillery crew in act of firing a 6 pounder.

The cockades on the shakos are from outer red, middle: white and blue from inner colours.

I'm not sure whether to acquire the horse teams as well, maybe for the horse artillery but it'll be somewhat costly. Horse artillery would have 6 draught horses and foot artillery 4 draught horses per gun. The horse train drivers wore light blue with darker blue facings.

Next post will be the British artillery.

Cheers for Now.
And HAPPY NEW YEAR for 2015.