bunn: (canoeing)
I'm just noting this hoard of coins discovered near Hayle that date from 253AD to 274AD.

That's a lot of coins a very long way West.  I wonder what they were doing there.  Seems very Cornish that they were in a tin, not in a ceramic pot.  We don't historically do a lot with ceramics down here. 
bunn: (dog knotwork)
Twenty thousand words of careful knitting to make the Dumnonian bits of Eagle of the Ninth add up neatly to the existing proven archaeology, but they had to keep digging.


But at least this is first century.  As long as they don't find anything second century, I can assume it was all abandoned.  *crosses fingers* 
bunn: (upside down)
Clearly the original residents did not call it that.   I'm guessing it doesn't have a documented original name, or at least I can't find one from hasty rummaging.

If you think it has a Latin name that I've missed, what's it called?   If you think it doesn't have a (known) Latin name, what might be a good name for someone in 197AD to use for it?

(The word Fishbourne sounds and looks Saxon. So It Will Not Do. It is Just Wrong. I know that Chichester is the rather magnificent Noviomagus Regnensium, but I need a separate name for the Palace.)
bunn: (Car)
Average lifespan for people who made it to the age of 10 was 47.5 years.   Say you have a slave who is 45, and is therefore, presumably, something of a banger.

Suppose you are a bit of a bastard and also a tightwad, and  would prefer not to keep spending money on food, accommodation etc for a slave who was frankly always a bit of a lemon.

You aren't allowed to kill them, Hadrian outlawed that.   Your slave has no marketable value.

What do you do?
bunn: (Logres)
I was hanging about Kit Hill South Mine this morning, and took a couple of snaps,  but I've already done that one,

So instead I decided to randomly select this, as a change from all those 19th century mines.  This was probably once a Roman furnace, for smelting iron ore. It's just outside a large first-century-AD Roman fort, which was discovered a few years ago by some very surprised archaeologists who were looking for evidence of medieval silver mining.  

The big question here is whether the Romans knew there was a rich silver lode just down the hill or not.
Read more... )

So this is probably a military furnace, created by troops commanded by Vespasian during his campaign in the South West of Britain back when he was a surprisingly -young Legate in his 30s.   About 25 years later, he would become Emperor.  
bunn: (dog knotwork)
Anyone any thoughts on who's job this might be in 197AD??

Say the friend / relative has vanished from his usual haunts and is living quietly, but is not actually going into exile outside the Empire.  Would anyone come looking for him?
bunn: (dog knotwork)
Notes for The White Hare

The Eagle of the Ninth was published in 1953 - Rosemary Sutcliff's first Roman Britain book. She hadn't realised that there was no archaeology at the time that supported the idea that Exeter had a Roman occupation, and was delighted to find out, later on, that 'traces of the Second Legion were being dug up all over the city'.

Snag is, it turns out now that a lot more excavating has been done that the Second Legion occupation of Exeter was in the first century, not the second, when Eagle of the Ninth is set. It looks like the Second Legion campaigned successfully in the Southwest, then left. By the time Marcus was supposed to be posted to Isca, they had moved elsewhere, leaving their huge legionary fortress on the Red Mount largely empty, and Isca Dumnoniorum was a city served by an aqueduct (although exactly how developed it was is not entirely clear, because of medieval ground clearances which have removed a lot of the Roman bits).

Read more...and more... and more! To the point of mild monomania, possibly. )
bunn: (Brythen)

"Grattius, too, writes that "great glory exalts the far-distant Celtic dogs" and refers to the Vertragus, an ancestor of the modern greyhound. "Swifter than thought or a winged bird it runs, pressing hard on the beasts it has found" (204ff).

Arrian has much to say about the dog in the Cynegeticus, written in Greek about AD 150 as a supplement to the manual of Xenophon. Arrian suggests that Xenophon must not have known of the Vetragus, which was named for its swiftness; otherwise, he never would have written that a hound cannot catch a hare except by luck. If the Vertragus does not run down the hare, it must be because of broken ground or a concealing thicket or ditch. A hare startled too close will not even have a chance to run at all.

"Splendid animals, the best bred of them, with fine eyes, fine bodies all over, fine coats, and fine appearance" (III.7), they should be long from head to tail, with a sturdy build, a muzzle that comes to a point, and large soft ears. The eyes should be prominent, large and bright and "should astonish the man who sees them" (IV.5). Again, he corrects Xenophon: "The color makes no difference, whatever it may be, not even if hounds are black or tan or white all over" (VI.1)."
(from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/canes/canes.html )

Now here was I thinking that the Large Soft Ears were just him! Not that he would catch a hare, but mostly because he agrees with Arrian : " "For one does not take hounds out in order to catch the beast, but for a race and competition, at least if one is a true sportsman."
bunn: (dog knotwork)
So I have it handy, and just in case anyone else should want it.  Text in italics only happens in the book.  The rest is history, or at least, history as she do appear in Wikipedia.
Read more... )

And here is the fort at Castellum. I must say my mental image of the area was more moorlandy, somehow. 


Apr. 21st, 2013 11:00 am
bunn: (upside down)
The title of 'centurion' in the second-century AD Roman army seems to cover a pretty broad range of jobs - Wikipedia seems to think from about the equivalent of a modern British army lieutenant, up to about the equivalent of a major.

I have a character who has a background among the provincial aristocracy (not quite equestrian, but a rich family),  has served as an Auxiliary centurion for a while, and is now doing a pretty responsible/important job, reporting direct to the provincial governor.   I think he is still called a Centurion (even though he's presumably getting paid quite a lot) because he's not quite at equestrian level, and he's a career soldier who has been promoted.

When I am writing about him, I feel I need a way to refer to him that somehow communicates:  'This is a Very Important Centurion' to make it clear that he is In Charge, and other centurions are reporting to him. Any suggestions?
bunn: (upside down)
"In conducting espionage, Scipio seems to stand out as an exception among Roman commanders.  When his siege of Utica was stalled, he sent a legation to the camp of the Numidian King Syphax.  Scipio's emissaries were accompanied by centurions disguised as slaves.

The legate Gaius Laelius was fearful that one of these men, Lucius Statorius, might be recognised since he had visited the camp before.  To protect his agent's cover, Laelius caned him publicly.  This episode plays upon the known Roman practice of subjecting only social inferiors  to corporal punishment, and is of particular interest because it specifically identifies centurions and tribunes as active participants in espionage missions.

While the legates were in conference, the "slaves" were to wander about the camp in different directions and reconnoiter the premises, taking note of entrances, exits and the location of each division."

- Intelligence Activities in Ancient Rome : Trust in the Gods, but Verify by Rose Mary Sheldon.

Clearly concerned that the Romans were pulling ahead in the field of melodrama, Hannibal responded by inventing Snakes on a Ship.  Which is where you fill a lot of pots with venomous snakes and fling them at your enemies' ships, hoping that their barefooted sailors will all jump into the sea in horror.
bunn: (dog knotwork)
I was told today that when foundations were being laid for the new road bridge across the Tamar in Launceston some years ago, the excavations uncovered a set of Roman bridge foundations. (Launceston may, or may not, be the same place that is called Uxelis in Ptolemy's Geography). The internet knows nothing of this intriguing fact(ish)*. My source is the business partner of the coordinating civil engineer on the bridge (now retired).

This sort of thing is the reason that I still haven't got my 'Marcus Goes To Dumnonia' story into any kind of order despite having started it about a year and a half ago. I am almost tempted to ditch it as fiction and issue it as a local history leaflet instead. :-D

*factish is a word I think I have just invented for something that may, or may not, be a fact. 
bunn: (Default)
About : When Marcus and Esca have to make a trip to Egypt, they find the ancient land hides dangers they had not expected.
Words : 16669 excluding notes, wtf brain?
Written for: eagle-rbb 2012

This is the longest thing I have written in one go, and to be honest, it could, with terrifying ease, have been much longer.  It kept growing more plot in a thoroughly alarming way.  There are so many lovely original sources for Egypt, all full of ideas!  The source that I started with was either a prayer, or a sort of spell:

"A Plea to a Local God for a Husband's Attentions.
It is Esrmpe, the [daughter] of Kllaouc, who is complaining about Hor, the [son] of Tanesneou.

“My lord Osiris, lord of Hasro! I complain to you, do justice to me and Hor, the son of Tanesneou, concerning what I have done to him and what he has done to me. Namely, he does not make love with me, I having no power, I having no protector-son. I am unable to help myself, I am childless. There is no one who could complain concerning me before you because of Hor … I complain to you … Osiris, listen to my call! Look how he has treated me! Open the way for your messengers … Osiris, lord of Abydos, Osiris … Isis … Ophois, Hathor, nurse of Anubis the Osiride, the cowherd of … do justice to me!”

Frankly, it only got odder from that point in...

Lovely images supplied by [livejournal.com profile] ningloreth, who also beta'd and supplied many helpful thoughts on things like mudbrick building techniques and whether one can really write a whole fiction all about the issues around dutiful and legally-correct incest without it becoming a bit ... icky, and has generally been a lot of fun to collaborate with!
Thanks also to [livejournal.com profile] seascribe for betaing and helping me work out how to get to the end (which at one point I feared I would never reach...)

Although this is an Eagle of the Ninth story, it also owes a lot to Gillian Bradshaw's Roman Egypt novel, Cleopatra's Heir, which I love, and is set about a hundred and sixty years earlier.  If anyone has read that, yes, it IS no coincidence that Claudius Hieronimianus says he has a Friend of the King, Egyptian traders and Roman citizens among his ancestors.  He doesn't know the whole story, of course.
Read more... )
bunn: (upside down)
Although the tribune Servius Placidus keeps wittering on in my head about how important he is really, and how it is daft to have a book that is mostly about a mere Centurion, when it could be all about HIM, I am a bit woolly about what his actual job entails.  

I'm guessing he's a Tribunus laticlavius - ie, number 1 tribune destined for a political future, given the period (around 130AD). And I know that legionary staff do a lot of detailed accounts and logistics stuff.... Is he a sort of legionary accountant or management trainee?

Any thoughts?
bunn: (Default)
In which I am Baffled by 4th Century Iron Things.  )

Skipping back a couple of centuries, I am intrigued by Hadrian's Frumentarii secret service, but wish to put a cherry on the top.  Would it be ridiculous to invent a Senatorial secret service working in parallel and sometimes at cross purposes with the Imperial one? 

In other news, I am unconvinced by rhubarb jam. It doesn't seem to be very... jammy. It is more like a pie filling in a pot.
bunn: (Dark Ages)
I'm reading 'Britannia : The Failed State" by Stuart Laycock.  No, it's not modern politics ;-)

The premise is that the tribal groups within Roman Britain were much more differentiated than most histories assume, and that they were never effectively submerged into a coherent Roman province.  Even in the second and third centuries, he thinks there was a lot more intertribal raiding even in Southern England than is documented.  In particular he thinks the Iceni came West to raid the Catuvellauni (around London and the Southeast) and the Brigantes (biggest tribe in Britain, remember)  regularly came charging South to loot Corieltauvi land around Leicestershire from about 140AD onwards.
Read more...and more! and more! )


bunn: (Default)

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