Heroic Age Logo The Heroic Age, Issue 2, Autumn/Winter 1999  

Lucius Artorius Castus (Part 2)

Notes and Bibliography


  1. A version of this paper is in press as Appendix 3 to the paperback revised edition of From Scythia to Camelot (Littleton and Malcor 2000). Thanks to Michelle Ziegler for her help with locating some of the references for this article.

  2. I will explore additional parallels between Castus's biography and the legend of Arthur in a future article.

  3. Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur (ca. 1469 C.E.) collected several strands of the tradition into a single work, and it is primarily through Malory that most modern audiences have become familiar with the story of Arthur. Other poems, such as the eleventh-century "Pa Gur", claim that someone named Arthur fought battles either near or north of Hadrian's Wall in Roman times (Bromwich et al. 1991:33-71). It is interesting to note that the majority of cultures that retell the Arthurian legend in the Middle Ages were at one time under the control of the Roman Empire. This may be the common link that accounts for the aberration in transmission that I will discuss shortly.

  4. Literally, "leader of wars," but the rank of dux had a more specific meaning in a military context. Originally, a dux was a commander (appointed by the emperor) of a military action that took place beyond the borders of his usual jurisdiction. Under Diocletian, the meaning expanded to include any leader of a Roman field army, usually of a cavalry unit serving in this capacity. By the fifth century, the original rank had become dux belli ("war leader"), a temporary post, to distinguish it from ranks such as Dux Britanniarum, "military leader of Britain," which was a permanent post.

  5. There were at least two men called Gildas, and they were not contemporaries (Stevenson 1838:vi-vii). Gidlas Albinus is the subject of the Vitae Sancti Gildae and Gildas Badonicus is the narrator of De Excidio Britanniae (Stevenson 1838:viii). For sanity's sake, I will refer to the author(s) of the De Excidio simply as "Gildas."

    Gildas identifies the sixth-century invaders as Picts and Scots in De Excidio (ca. 540 C.E.; Stevenson 1838). In the Vitae Sancti Gildae, Arthur fights in southern Scotland, eventually killing the saint's brother (Stevenson 1838:xxviii). Eventually Arthur and the saint reconcile with Arthur "doing penance through the remainder of his life, simply for having slain in battle one who had risen in arms against him" (Gildas, chap. 6; Stevenson 1838:xxviii). Similarly, Marcellus's orders put Castus in the position of slaying all "who had risen in arms against him" in southern Scotland.

    Gerald of Wales (Giraldis Cambrensis; ca. 1195) also designates the Picts and Scots as Arthur's opponents in De Principis Instructione (Stevenson 1838:xiii) and includes the interesting detail that, according to Gildas (chap. 20), the Roman auxiliaries and legions were worthless against the Picts and Scots (Stevenson 1838:xiii). Although Gildas does not mention Arthur by name, Gerald assumed that the military commander mentioned by Gildas was Arthur (Stevenson 1838:xiv-xv).

    Several of the battles associated with Arthur's defense of Britain that are mentioned by Gildas and other authors have been identified by some scholars as locations in Scotland or near the Scottish border.

  6. Märchen is a jargon term used by folklorists to describe a class of traditional narratives that includes fairy tales, what the French call conte populaire, household tales, and the like. A Märchen is composed of a succession of striking features, called "motifs", which are presented against a never-never land setting that is populated by fantastic creatures and magical marvels. Characters in a Märchen are seldom defined beyond a name that usually points to a distinguishing characteristic. Examples of Märchen are "Snow White" and "Cinderella." For more information, see Thompson 1946:7-8.

  7. These changes are what C. W. von Sydow (Dundes 1965:237) referred to as "mutations." These mutations generally occur to bring an existing legend into line with the "dominant concerns and cherished values" of the community that transmits the legend (Ward 1981, 2:374).

  8. The Brothers Grimm (Ward 1981, 2:372) believed that historical legends that were tied to people died out faster than those that were tied to places. Two great cycles out of Britain, however, prove to be major exceptions to this notion: the legends of Arthur and the legends of Robin Hood. J.C. Holt (1989) published an excellent work on the development of the Robin Hood cycle, which paralleled the development of the Arthurian legends in the medieval period. Holt (1989:190) found that many different historical figures ultimately contributed to the Robin Hood cycle, but the first historical figure known to be identified as Robin Hood had his name recorded in 1225 C.E. (Holt 1989:196). By 1261-2 C.E., the legend of Robin Hood had developed sufficiently for the surname Robinhood to appear in British documents (Holt 1989:187) and for a clerk change an outlaw's name from "William son of Robert" to "William Robehod" (Holt 1989:188-189). The legend continued to develop, with bits of history from different events over the centuries being added to the tales, until the fifteenth century. In the 1400s a major fusion occurred that combined the existing Robin Hood tales with independent cycles of Maid Marion, Little John, and Friar Tuck (Holt 1989:192). The result was the Robin Hood legends as we know them today.

  9. Examples of such attractions are the legends of Tristan (Loomis and Loomis 1938:42-69), the "Sword in the Stone" (Littleton and Malcor 2000:181-193) and the Holy Grail (Malcor 1991).

  10. This observation is based on the perceived age of the texts rather than the actual ages of the manuscripts.

  11. Artorius and Arthur can be equated etymologically (Malone 1925:373). Moreover, all occurrences of the name Arthur in Britain post-date Castus's service there.

  12. For a list of such attempts and the problems with them, see Littleton and Malcor 2000:72-73 and Malcor 1999.

  13. Granted, the gap between the historical Robin Hood and the use of his name is only about one-tenth the size of the gap between Castus and the first recorded use of the name "Arthur" (in Y Gododdin, ca. 600 C.E.). But the size of the gap may simply indicate the greater esteem in which Arthur was held.

  14. See Ashe's comments on Y Gododdin in Lacy et al. 1996:203. This sort of development is precisely what occurred in the Robin Hood legends, with outlaws suddenly being referred to as "a Robin Hood" in court records (Holt 1989:188-189).

  15. The principle manuscript itself dates to the twelfth century and is found in British Library (B.L.) MS Harley 3859, where the text appears along with a copy of the Annales Cambriae (ca. 960-80). Although the attribution to Nennius is now thought to be in question, I have chosen to use his name throughout the rest of this article for simplicity's sake.

  16. Both Gildas and Bede mention the battle of Badon, but they do not name the victor as Arthur.

  17. Giles (1986:30) offers the translation "though there were many more noble than [Arthur]". This description would fit Castus equally well, since he was of the Equestrian rather than Senatorial Order.

  18. The first inscription (Mommsen 1873:no. 1919) was found at Epetium (modern Stobrez) near Spalato in modern Croatia, at the villa Lucius Artorius Castus probably occupied while he was procurator (See Plates 1, 2 and 3). As restored the inscription reads:

    Dis   L  .  Artorius Castus  .  Centurioni legionis     Manibus
         III Gallicae  .  item Centurioni legionis VI Ferra
         tae  .  item 7 leg  .  II Adiutricis  .  item 7 leg V Ma
         cedonicae  .  item primo pilo eiusdem praeposito
         classis Misenatium praefecto legionis VI
         Victricis  .  duci leg cohortium alarum Britanici
         niarum adversus Armoricanos  .  Procuratori Cente
         nario provinciae Liburniae iure gladi  .  Vi
         vus ipse sibi et suis                              st

    There is a gap that runs between "Artori-" and "-stus" down through "suis" and "-st" where a piece of the inscription is missing. The second inscription (Mommsen 1873: no. 12791), reads:

    L Artorius
    Castus P P
    Leg V Mc Pr
    aefectus  .  Leg
    VI Victric

    The translation is:

    Lucius Artorius
    Castus, primus pilus,
    V legion Macedonica,
    VI Legion Victrix.

    This is a memorial plaque, not a grave stele, and the inscription does not contain "DM". See also Klebs (1897, 1: 155, no. 975) and Dessau (1892-1916, 1:548, no. 2770; correction 3:2, no. clxxx).

    Nennius appears to suggest that there was some disparity between Arthur's social and military rank (Giles 1986:30). Such a disparity did indeed exist for Castus, who became a dux even though he was of Equestrian rather than of Senatorial rank, something that was very unusual for the late second century.

  19. In De Excidio (ca. 540 C.E.) Gildas refers to the leaders of the Roman military as "Romanorum reges" ("Roman kings") who "possessed the empire" (Stevenson 1838:14). These Roman leaders included emperors who filled a role in the military structure of the empire that is analogous to that as that filled in sixth-century Britain's military structure by kings. While Gildas made a distinction between "rectores" ("governors") and "duces" ("leaders of armies"), he made no such distinction between "duces" and "reges" ("kings"; Higham 1994:152). For Gildas, calling someone a Roman "rex" ("king") or a Roman "dux" ("commander who crosses provincial boundaries") was essentially the same thing. Given the interchangeability and attested overlap of the semantic fields of these two words in the sixth century, it would have been perfectly understandable for stories about a "Dux Artorius" to become tales about a "Rex Arturius" ("King Arthur"). Other renderings of Arthur's name include Arthurius and Arthurus/Arturus. Such variations could derive from a Celticization of Castus's gens nomen, Artorius (Littleton and Malcor 1994:63, 72-73).

  20. For example, the battle on the Tribruit, is independently attested as belonging to Arthur (Jackson 1945:57), and the Annales Cambria associate Badon with Arthur (Brengle 1964:7).

  21. E.g., Giles 1986:30. Jackson (1945:49) holds that the etymological connection to Binchester/Vinovion to be impossible. Anscombe (1904:110), Faral (1929:142), Lot (1934:69, 195), Johnstone (1934:381), and Crawford (1935:287) all agree with the identification as Binchester, and Jackson (1945:49) admits that some manuscripts do attest the form Vinnovion, which could possibly render Guinnion in Old Welsh.

  22. Nennius glosses the entry as "Caer Lion", which Giles (1986:30) in turn glosses as Exeter. York, however, remains the most likely identification.

  23. Giles (1986:31) suggests either the Brue in Somersetshire or the Ribble in Lancaster. The Ribble is most probably the correct identification.

  24. Jackson takes Mount Agned for an indecipherable corruption, preferring the reading "Breguoin." Geoffrey of Monmouth (2.7; Thorpe 1966:79) equates Mount Agned with Maidens' Castle. There is a Maiden Castle near the border between Cumbria and Durham along a road that may have seen some fighting during the Caledonian invasion. Further west along the road, at Bravoniacum (Kirkby Thore), a building tile of uncertain date and from an unidentified unit with the cognomen "Castus" inscribed on it was recorded (Collingwood and Wright 1965:259, no. 767). Castus does appear rather frequently in as a cognomen in the third century, though, so there is no reason to connect the stone with Lucius Artorius Castus on the basis of the name alone. So while there may have been some battles fought in the region of Maiden Castle in the second century, the case is stronger for the main fighting along Dere Street. Giles (1986:31) and others have suggested Edinburgh as the site.

  25. Jackson makes this identification solely on the basis of the attestation in Gildas's De Excidio. The battle could have been anywhere. Giles (1986:31) and others, following Geoffrey of Monmouth, have equated Badon with Bath.

  26. Ribchester, Ordnance Survey 1995:SD6434. Numerus equitatum Sarmatarum replaced Ala II Asturum as the fort's garrison ca. 175 C.E. (Shotter 1997:39). Ala II Asturum was transferred to Cilurnum (Chesters; Ordnance Survey 1995:NY9170; Jarrett 1994:39), where they may have served with or replaced Cohors I Vangionum milliaria equitata and Cohors I Delmatarum equitata (Frere et al. 1987) and in the third century to Aesica (Great Chesters; Ordnance Survey NY7066), where they replaced Cohors VI Raetorum (Frere et al. 1987). Jackson's etymology for Bremenium, *Bremeno (Jackson 1948-49:48-49). could just as easily indicate Bremetennacum (see note 41). The archaeological record does indicate that a battle did occur at Bremetennacum at this time (e.g., Collingwood and Wright 1965:196-197, no. 587 shows damage to a building outside the fort).

  27. Ordnance Survey 1995:NY2175. The fort was not regarrisoned after the invasion. The garrison, Cohors II Tungrorum milliaria equitata civium latinorum, was transferred to Camboglanna, the supposed site for the battle of Camlann (see below), following the invasion.

  28. Ordnance Survey 1995:NY1878. The Latin name for the fortlet is unknown, and the garrison is unnamed. It possibly served as a training camp for the garrison at Birrens (Shotter 1996:109).

  29. Collingwood and Wright 1965:314-315, no. 946; Rostovtzeff 1923:96. Fighting may have occurred at Aballava at this time as well. Also, there was a Roman road between Birrens and Newstead (Margary 1957:map). It is possible that the invading force used this to start the attack on the forts along Dere Street. A second battle may have taken place at Brememnium as Castus and the Sarmatians pushed the Caledonii north.

  30. Newstead; Ordnance Survey 1995:NT5734. Ala Augusta Vocontiorum CR may have been the unit that the Caledonii destroyed. The fort held at least until the 180s (Salway 1993:155), at which point it may have been regarrisoned for a time by a vexillation from the XX Legio Valeria Victrix (Collingwood and Wright 1965:652, nos. 2121-2122). That the XXth legion was helping to bolster the Roman defenses in southern Scotland is testimony to exactly how hard the VI Legio Victrix had been hit. An inscription (Collingwood and Wright 1965:406-407, no. 1234) bears testimony that the gate and walls had to be rebuilt from the ground up following the invasion.

  31. Risingham; Ordnance Survey 1995:NY8986. Cohors IIII Gallorum equitata was probably the unit that fell to the Caledonii; Cohors I Vangionum milliaria equitata and Numerus Exploratorum habitancensium were brought in to regarrison the fort after it was rebuilt by Septimius Severus (Frere et al. 1987).

  32. Ordnance Survey 1995:NT6921. The Latin name for this fort is unknown. The garrison that the Caledonii destroyed was probably Vexillatio Raetorum Gaesatorum (Collingwood and Wright 1965:650, no. 2117).

  33. High Rochester; Ordnance Survey NY8398. Both Cohors I Aelia Dacorum milliaria and Cohors I Delmatarum equitata garrison the fort in the late second century (Frere et al. 1987). One may have been the unit destroyed by the Caledonii and the other the replacement unit. Or the destroyed unit may have been the Cohors I Lingonum equitata, which garrisoned the fort in the mid-second century. Lingonum refers to the Lingones, who might be responsible for the Linnuis reference in Nennius. Several dedication slabs show extensive rebuilding at the site in the early third century (Collingwood and Wright 1965:420-424, nos. 1272, 1277, and 1279-1282). Jackson (1949-1950:48-49) decides on this location for Breguoin from the battle list. While this is possible, there is no evidence that anyone named Arthur was there when Bremenium originally fell. If the battle of Breguoin occurred instead in 184 at Bremetennacum, Lucius Artorius Castus was there.

  34. This would put the breach of the Wall at Onnum (Halton Chesters; Ordnance Survey NY9968), which was regarrisoned by Ala I Pannoniorum Sabiniana in the third century, suggesting that something had happened to the second-century garrison (Frere et al. 1987). Yet Cilurnum (Chesters) was among the forts that Septimius Severus had to repair (Collingwood and Wright 1965:471-472, no. 1462, 1465), and the aqueduct and water supply system had been repaired under Marcellus (Collingwood and Wright 1965:472, no. 1463, 1464), who was only governor of Britain for a brief period (184-185 C.E.; Salway 1993:156-157). This emergency rebuilding could indicate that Chesters (Cilurnum) rather than Halton Chesters was the site of the breach in the Caledonian invasion.

  35. Ordnance Survey 1995:SE6052. In the late second century, Legio VI Victrix garrisoned this legionary fort (Frere et al. 1987).

  36. Standard wisdom is that the person killed was the current governor of Britannia, since Rome suddenly sent a replacement for him rather than for the legate of the VI Legion Victrix. The acting governor was M. Antius Crescens Calpurnianus (Salway 1993:157). Nennius (chap. 30; Morris 1980:24) recast this story as happening to Septimius Severus, who did die at York but of a disease rather than as a result of battle. Whereas Cassius Dio (73.2; Cary 1932:87) said that the barbarians "cut down a general together with his troops" (describing a battle presumably near York during the invasion of 184), Nennius (chap. 23; Morris 1980:24) said that Severus was "killed at York with his generals." The phrasing is close enough to spark speculation that "Annals of Rome" Nennius was working from was a copy or fragment of Cassius Dio's Roman History.

  37. Coins from 184 and the beginning of 185 bear testimony to continued victories on the part of the Romans against the invaders (Salway 1993:157).

  38. While some scholars have assumed that the pattern of destruction in northern Britain took place in 197, Salway (1981:210) argues, quite correctly, that the damage actually occurred 183-185 C.E.

  39. An eye-shield of the type used by Sarmatian cavalry and several beads that have been identified as Sarmatian have been found at Chesters (Cilurnum), suggesting that the Sarmatians of Ribchester helped to supplement the garrison of the fort (Sulimirski 1970:176). Several inscriptions may refer to Sarmatians as well: Aurelius Severus (Collingwood and Wright 1965:469, no. 1453), M. Aurelius Ianuarius (Collingwood and Wright 1965:470, no. 1459) and M. Aurelius Victor (Collingwood and Wright 1965:476-477, no. 1481). For names of Sarmatians being M. Aurelius, see Malcor 1999. M. Aurelius Victor's tombstone depicts a "naked" horseman wielding a sword; the horse's tail is long and appears to be wrapped. For the possibility of "naked" horsemen representing Sarmatians in scale mail, see (Richmond 1945:17). For the steppe practice of wrapping the horse's tail, see Sulimirski 1970: 253, plate 3. The horse's short mane is consistent with Sarmatian practices as well (Sulimirski 1970:253-254, plate 10) rather than with Roman cavalry (Hyland 1990:6). This may be the same Aurelius Victor mentioned in an inscription from Halton Chesters, (Collingwood and Wright 1965:464, no. 1435). Another Aurelius Victor is mentioned in an inscription from Risingham, which can be dated to ca. 278 (Collingwood and Wright 1965:413-414, no. 1255).

  40. For the inscription detailing the restoration, see Collingwood and Wright 1965:214, no. 637.

  41. Jackson (1949-1950) showed that the development from Bremenium to Breguion is perfectly natural, explainable, and to be expected. Bremetennacum is only our modern rendering of one of the ways in which the region was defined, and the name did apply to the entire region, not just the fort. This rendering is based on "Bremetennacum veteranorum" in the Notitia Dignitatum, "Bresnetenaci veteranorum" in the Ravenna Cosmography and "Regio Bremetenacensis" (Wacher 1978:127; see also Richmond 1945). The "Breme" part of the name does not come from a Latin stem. Some people have speculated that it was a name of a tribe, who may have supplied the name for Bremenium as well. The "tennacum" part means "holding". So the name works out to "[Strong]hold of [the] Breme(n)." This first part of the name, then, without touching the "tennacum" portion at all, works out to Breguoin for the same reasons that Bremenium does.

  42. The river Dow flows into the estuary near Freckleton, which served as a Roman port. The river Douglas joins the Ribble near this point as well. That gives the three rivers at an estuary that some scholars thought identified the Tribruit. Jackson (1945:51) disagreed with the etymology that gave rise to this identification. Still, the Ribble does empty into the sea within a reasonably short distance of exiting the limestone landscape and pass that was guarded by Bremetennacum. The name that Jackson (1945:52) eventually comes up with from the etymology could just as easily describe the estuary of the Ribble as any other place where three rivers meet a beach.

  43. It is possible that the Caledonii were trying to attack the Roman port at Freckleton. Traditionally, Ribchester was considered to be a place of tremendous wealth and political as well as military importance (Routledge 1844:234, 238). Freckleton originally sent supplies through the fort at Kirkham. But when Castus was praefectus of Bremetennacum, Kirkham was abandoned (Shotter 1997:39). The nearest fort would have been Bremetennacum, which would have been responsible for safeguarding the port and the supplies shipped through it. Unlike Nennius, Geoffrey has the battles on the Douglas occur after the battle at the "city of the legions" (York; Thorpe 1966:213). This could mean that the Douglas referred to is the Douglas Waterway south of Glasgow, with the battlefield somewhere southwest of the place where the Douglas joins the Clyde. This alternative scenario would move these battles later in the hypothetical sequence.

  44. Jackson (1945:47-48) decided that Lindsey in Lincolnshire was a probable source for Nennius's "Linnuis," but he points out that there is no Douglas river in Lindsey and none of the battle sites, with the possible exception of Badon, are connected with southern Britain (Jackson 1945:57). Jackson's etymology, however, would give the "original" for as *Linnens and require a shift of a "d" to an "n". Plus, there is still the problem that there is no Douglas river in Lindsey. This raises the possibility that "Linnuis" is an unattested location.

    The term "region" is important. Of the four times "region" is referred to in Latin inscriptions, once is in the rank of a centurion who erected an alter at Bath (Collingwood and Wright 1965:48, no. 152), one is a tombstone describing someone from the region of Lindum ("regionis Lindensis"; L'Année Epigraphique 1927:no. 6) and two are from Bremetennacum (Collingwood and Wright 1965:194-197, nos. 583 and 587). The inscriptions at Bath and Bremetennacum are unclear as to where the "region" is. Given Roman naming practices, the "region" probably refers to the area around the place where the inscription was found. In Diocletian's time (ca. 314 C.E.), Lindum did control the province of Flavia Caesariensis, which did reach from the east coast west to a point just south of the river Douglas. From Gildas on, there is evidence that the chroniclers probably did not know that Britain had ever been a single province, though they did seem to have some general knowledge of what Britain looked like after it had been divided into multiple provinces. It is possible that Nennius's vague command of the geography of Roman Britain lead him to the conclusion that the river Douglas lay within the borders of the ancient region controlled by Lindum. (The river Douglas actually fell within the boundaries for Britanniae II.)

  45. The fighting may have swept south and east, into the area around Lindsey, before heading back north, but the archaeological record does not support this. If Linnuis is in fact Lindsey, the association with the battles on the Douglas may have been added as a gloss at a later date, possibly by Nennius himself, just as he added the gloss Cat Coit Celidon (Field 1999). The Caledonii are known to have continued back into southern Scotland with at least one Roman commander still giving chase, where they were when Marcellus arrived in Britain and gave orders for the punitive campaign against the invaders.

  46. Geoffrey of Monmouth precedes Arthur's invasion of Scotland with a battle against Saxons, Picts and Scots at York (Thorpe 1966:212-213).

  47. Evidence of a Sarmatian presence along Dere Street may be seen in stamped tiles, found at Cataractonium (now lost) found at Bainesse near the site of ancient Cataractonium (modern Catterick) bear the stamp "BSAR" (Collingwood and Wright 1992, 2 [Fascicule 4]:207, no. 2479). Possibly "Bremetennacum Sarmati"; see Jarrett 1994:43, which suggests that the repair was accomplished by a unit deployed from Bremetennacum rather than by the local garrison. Curiously, Catterick is one of the possible sites for Y Gododdin (Ashe in Lacy et al. 1996:203). If Castus and his Sarmatians did win a battle there, memory of that victory may have led to the comparison four centuries later of the warrior Gwawrddur to "Arthur."

  48. Ordnance Survey 1995:NZ2131. The Ala Hispanorum Vettonum civium Romanorum replaced the unit that was defeated by the Caledonii (Ferris and Jones 1980:233-54). The battle must have taken place away from the fort since the site itself does not show evidence of destruction (Ferris and Jones 1980:238).

  49. Crawford (1935:285) points out that "in ostium fluminis glein" could mean a "river-junction." This is precisely what is found on the Glen of Northumberland near this infamous battlefield.

  50. Marcellus may well have brought reinforcements from the Continent with him. These reinforcements would certainly have had to embark from Armorica, possibly spurring later legends of Arthur receiving reinforcements for the Scottish portion of his consolidation of Britain from either Hoel of Brittany or Kings Ban and Bors. Arthur then turned around and helped his Continental allies in a war or uprising (e.g., Geoffrey of Monmouth 9.1-12; Thorpe 1966:212-228; Malory 1.10-18, 51-12; Cowen 1969, 1:24-45, 167-193). This is precisely what Castus did in the second century by taking British cavalry to the Continent to aid Romans and Roman allies against an uprising in Armorica, which may have been lead by former Roman soldiers.

  51. This river remains unidentified, but Jackson (1945:48) suggested that it might be in southern Scotland. The cognomen "Bassus" does crop up repeatedly among the troops on Hadrian's Wall (Collingwood and Wright 1965:475, 481, nos. 1473 and 1501 [Cilurnum-Chesters], 1589 [Housteads; honors a consul of 258 C.E.], 2115 [Birrens; probably second-century]), at fort Alone (Watercrook) near the river Lune in third-century Cumbria (Collingwood and Wright 1965:254, no. 754) and as the name of a pre-third-century praefectus castrorum at Caerleon (Collingwood and Wright 1965:108-109, no. 317), though there is no known connection between any of these men and a river.

  52. Also known as Alt Clut, Alcluith, Din-Brithon and possibly Caer-Brithon. There is no British name or stem that can be traced to *Badon- (Jackson 1945:55). The only case for putting the battle somewhere in southern Britain rests on Gildas's assurance that the battle was against the Saxons rather than the Picts or Scots (Jackson 1945:56). There is no reason to assume that Gildas was any more accurate about the battle of Badon than he was about the building of Hadrian's Wall. Gildas does say that Badon was fought in the first part of the year, possibly January, a statement that has puzzled many scholars (e.g., Wood in Lapidge and Dumville 1984:23). This timing, too, parallels the pattern from the second-century Caledonian invasion, when the final battle would have been fought in the region of the Antonine Wall in early 185, possibly as early as January or February. While this is an unusual time of year for battles to be fought in regions that experience heavy winters, Castus was well versed in such fighting and apparently quite successful at it, given his stint as primus pilus of the V Macedonica, which was stationed at Potaissa in Dacia (modern Turda in Transylvania; Malcor 1999).

  53. Archaeological evidence at Dumbarton Rock shows occupation from the fifth century onward (Snyder 1997; Thomas 1981:9-11, 20).

  54. Arthur supposedly accomplished some of this slaughter by using a naval blockade. While there is no known evidence that Castus used naval power on the coast while campaigning in Scotland, he certainly had the know-how after serving as praepositus of the classis Misenium before coming to Britain (Malcor 1999).

  55. A battle list/poem created by the Dumnonii in this region could easily have spread to Wales, since the Celtic peoples in Wales had strong ties to the Celtic peoples in southern Scotland at this point (Chadwick 1970:76).

  56. Although Nennius says that Arthur's opponents were Saxons and most later authors copy him, Geoffrey of Monmouth combines elements of Nennius's battle list with tales of Arthur fighting against the Picts and Scots in addition to Saxons (Thorpe 1966:218 ff.). The people Castus fought against were Caledonii, who were possibly the immediate ancestors of the Picts (Chadwick 1970:66). Gildas (chap. 14; Stevenson 1838:20-21) placed this invasion by Scots and Picts after the attempt by Maximus to become emperor of Rome, but Gildas's chronology and geography are scrambled in more than a few places. For instance, he got the order of construction for Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall backward (Wright in Lapidge and Dumville 1984:85), credited Septimius Severus with building Hadrian's Wall, and gave the terminus for Hadrian's Wall as Alt Clut (Dumbarton Rock), which was the terminus for the Antonine Wall (Gildas, chap. 9, 15, 18, 19; Stevenson 1838:6, 31, 24). Dumville (Lapidge and Dumville 1984:64) argued, quite correctly, that such errors should make us extremely wary of using any chronological evidence from De Excidio. Additionally, Gildas had received a traditional Roman education at the hands of a rhetor ("teacher of rhetoric") and wrote De Excidio in a style consistent with Roman rhetoric rather than historical accuaracy (Lapidge in Lapidge and Dumville 1984:28-29). As part of this style, Gildas drew on classical and other works, such as Vergil's Aeneid, reworking the language of the poetry for his own purposes (Wright in Lapidge and Dumville 1984:112). Gildas (chap. 18-25; Stevenson 1838:23-33) also said that after the Romans left Britain, the Scots and Picts invaded again; when the Romans did not respond to the embassy to Aëtius, Ambrosius Aurelianus took command and led the British troops to victory. Dumville (Lapidge and Dumville 1984:63-64) speculated that Gildas may have been drawing some of his historical informaion in part from a legend that was originally in circulation closer to the time of Magnus Maximus (ca. 383-388). It is equally likely, if not more likely, that such a legend could have been in circulation well before Maximus and simply updated during the period that Maximus was active to correspond to details of his career.

    Nennius (Morris 1980:24) told a similar tale but used "Irish" in place of "Scots." Gildas (chap. 15-16; Stevenson 1838:21-22) mentioned that a Roman legate and legions triumphed in this invasion, a detail that fits the second century but not the late fifth- or early sixth-century, when the Roman Empire no longer maintained a military presence in Britain. These details correspond to the invasion by the Caledonii that occurred while Castus was in Britain.

    Nennius also includes a section on Severus (chap. 23) in which Severus is credited with building Hadrian's Wall to keep out the Picts and the Irish. Nennius gives the estuary of the Clyde as the terminus of the Wall, which would indicate the Antonine Wall rather than Hadrian's. Severus did regarrison and repair the defenses along Hadrian's Wall, in southern Scotland, and in the region of the Antonine Wall following the invasion by the Caledonii. So Nennius's timeline is off by roughly 100 years for the building of Hadrian's Wall, and his geography is off by the distance between Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall. But the details in and of themselves are actually accurate. Gildas (19.1; Higham 1994:91; Wright in Lapidge and Dumville 1984:86) said that during the invasion by the Picts and Scots/Irish "They seized the whole of the extreme north of the island from its inhabitants ('indigens') up to the wall." While some scholars have suggested that this meant that fifth-century invaders had taken everything south of Hadrian's Wall (e.g., Thompson in Higham 1994:91), the description of the invasion pattern given by Gildas makes perfect sense in the context of the Caledonian invasion of 183-185 C.E. In the second-century invasion, the Caledonii crossed the Antonine Wall, took everything between the Antonine Wall and Hadrian's Wall, and then breached Hadrian's Wall and continued to fight battles south of Hadrian's, just as Gildas said the Picts and Scots did in the fifth or sixth century. The pattern continues with the invaders being driven back north of the Wall by Arthur's victorious cavalry, which matches the pattern of probable victories by Castus's Sarmatian cavalry against the Caledonii. Gildas may have presented the traditional history correctly and simply had the wrong date for the invasion.

  57. Salway 1993:157; Cassius Dio 73.6; Cary 1932:89.

  58. The Rhine legions were conducting trials of both soldiers and civilians by August 14, 186, so the invasion had to happen either late in 185 or early in 186 (Whittaker 1969, 1:60-61, n.2). Late in 185 is more likely, since few people would willing move cavalry across the English Channel in winter on Roman ships. Then again, Castus appears to have had a habit of fighting battles at unlikely times, a habit that may have contributed to his success.

  59. Geoffrey (9.3-4; Thorpe 1966:215-217) seems to identify Bath as Badon, but the description of the battle that he gives for Bath matches Nennius's description of the battle at castle Guinnion. The final battle of the invasion, which Nennius gives as Badon, takes place at Dumbarton Rock in Geoffrey.

  60. In a sense, the numerii were akin to the troops Arthur fielded when he fought alongside the legions.

  61. Examples of Sarmatian armor are seen on some of the tombstones from Bremetennacum (e.g., Collingwood and Wright 1965:200, no. 595 and Routledge 1854:238). Armored horsemen of the steppe type also turn up on tombstones at Chester, where some of the unit's members were buried (e.g., Collingwood and Wright 1965:183, no. 550 and Sulimirski 1970:plate 46).

  62. A member of the unit at Bremetennacum was depicted in steppe garb and carrying the dragon-banner on a tombstone found at Chester (Sulimirski 1970:plate 46). A tombstone at Bremetennacum showed a standard-bearer in steppe garb bearing the more traditional Roman cavalry standard (Routledge 1854:238; this item may be identical with the stele found at Chester.).

  63. The bearer of this type of standard was called a draconarius (Dixon and Southern 1992:60-61).

  64. In a similar fashion, invasions led to Arthur's expanding his consolidation of Britain beyond his initial borders.

  65. Ordnance Survey 1995:NY5163. Collingwood and Wright (1965:576) identified Camboglanna as Birdoswald, but recent research indicates that the identification with Castlesteads is more likely.

  66. The site was originally garrisoned by the Cohors IV Gallorum equitata, but they appear to have been wiped out in the second century invasion and replaced when Septimius Severus rebuilt the fort by the Cohors II Tungrorum milliaria equitata civium latinarum, one of the strongest mixed cavalry/infantry units on the Wall (Collingwood and Wright 1965:606, no. 1978).


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