THE MARCH OF THE ROMANS
Although the Caledonians had been defeated, they were
not subdued, and they continued to fight so fiercely that
the Romans gave up trying to keep the forts which
Agricola had built.
Later on a Roman Emperor called Hadrian came to
Britain, and he built a wall from the Tyne to the Solway.
This wall ran straight across the country from sea to sea
over hills and valleys, and it was so strong, and so well
built, that although hundreds of years have passed since
then it may still be seen to this day.
But even this great wall did not keep back the Cale≠
donians. They broke through it or sailed round the ends
of it in their little boats made of wickerwork covered
with the skins of animals. Some years later another
Roman Emperor called Antonine came to Britain. He
drove the Caledonians back again beyond Agricolaís forts,
and there he built a wall which is still called by his name.
But the Caledonians broke through or climbed over
this wall too. The first man who leaped over the wall was
called Graham, and the ruins of that part of the wall are
called Grahamís Dyke to this day. Dyke is a Scottish
word for wall
Many years passed. The Romans called Britain a
Roman province, but the wild people of the north not
only remained unconquered but they became ever more
THE MARCH OF THE ROMANS 11
and more bold. They over≠leaped the wall more and
more often, coming farther and farther south, fighting and
plundering as they went.
At last an Emperor called Severus, hearing of the
deeds of the wild Caledonians, resolved to conquer them.
This Emperor was old and ill. He was so ill that he could
not walk, and had to be carried in a kind of bed called a
Utter. But he was full of courage and determination, and
gathering a great army of soldiers he invaded Scotland.
Scotland at this time was covered in many parts with
pathless forest, and even where there were roads they
were not fit for a great army, such as Severus now brought
with him, to pass over.
So Severus as he marched his army through Scotland
cut down trees, drained marshes, made roads and built
bridges. Slowly but with fierce determination, led by a
sick man who was carried about in a bed, the Romans
marched through Scotland. From south to north they
marched, yet they never fought a battle or came face to
face with an enemy.
The Caledonians followed their march, dashing out
upon them unawares, swooping down upon and killing
those who lagged behind or who strayed too far ahead.
In this way many were killed, many too died of cold,
hunger, and weariness ; still on and on, over hill and
valley, swept the mighty host, to the very north of
Scotland. There they turned and marched back again,
and at last they reached the border and crossed beyond
the wall, leaving fifty thousand of their number dead in
the hills and valleys of the north.
No wonder that brave old Severus gave up the task
as hopeless, and instead of trying to fight any more, he
strengthened and repaired the wall which Hadrian had
built so many years before.
And so it went on year by year, the Caledonians
always attacking, the Romans always trying to drive
them back again. At last, nearly five hundred years
after they first came to Britain, the Romans went away
When the Romans had gone, the Caledonians found
the south of Britain more easy to attack than ever. For
as the Romans took away not only their own soldiers, but
the best of the British whom they had trained to fight,
there was now no one to guard the walls.
So the Caledonians threw down and destroyed the
wall between the Forth and the Clyde. They broke and
ruined great parts of Hadrianís wall too, and overran the
south of Britain as far as London.
At last the Britons were in such dread and fear of
the Caledonians that they sent to their old enemies the
Romans for help. But the Romans would not help
them. The Britons then sent to the Saxons, and the
Saxons came to their aid.
When the King of the Picts heard that the Saxons
had come to help the Britons, he sent to the King of the
Scots begging him to join in fighting them. So the Picts
and the Scots joined together against the Britons and the
Saxons. But when the Picts and Scots saw the great
army of Britons and the strange fierce Saxon warriors,
some of them were afraid and stole away to hide them≠
selves in the woods near. The two kings when they
heard of this were very angry. They sent to seek these
cowards, brought them back, and hanged them every
one in sight of the whole army, so that none might be
tempted to follow their example.
Then Dougall the Scottish King and Galanus the
Pictish King spoke to their people and encouraged them
with brave words.
THE MARCH OF THE ROMANS 18
When the battle began, arrows flew thick and fast,
and it seemed as if neither side would give way. But
when they came near to each other, the Picts and Scots
charged so fiercely that the Britons fled before them.
Then a fearful storm arose. The sky grew black with
clouds and the air dark with rain and hail, which dashed
on friend and foe alike. In the darkness the Picts and
the Scots lost their rank and order, and when the storm
passed over, the Saxons and the Britons had won the
It was a sorrowful day for the Picts and the Scots.
They fled away, leaving the Britons to rejoice over the
thousands of their enemies who lay dead upon the field.
But the Britons had no great cause for rejoicing, for
the Saxons rid south Britain of the Picts and the Scots
only to conquer it for themselves. And soon the Britons
were glad to ask the Picts and Scots to help them to
drive the Saxons out of their land. This they were never
able to do, and the Saxons took all the south of Britain
and made it their own. But Scotland they could never
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