The coniectures of writers touching the situation of Camelodunum supposed to be Colckester, of the Silures a people spoken of in the former chapter, a foughten field betwene Caratacus the British prince, and Ostorius the Romaine, in the confines of Shropshire; the Britains go miserablie to wracke, Caratacus is deliuered to the Romans, his wife and daughter are taken prisoners, his brethren yeeld themselues to their enimies.
The Sixt Chapter.
BUT now there resteth a great doubt among writers, where this citie or towne called Camelodunum did stand, of some (and not without good ground of probable conjectures gathered vpon the aduised consideration of the circumstances of that which in old authors is
found written of this place) it is thought to be Colchester. But verelie by this place of Tacitus it maie rather seeme to be some other towne, situat more westward than Colchester, sith a colonie of Romane souldiers were planted there to be at hand, for the repressing of the
Silures where they inhabited,
vnquiet Silures, which by consent of most writers inhabited in Southwales, or néere the Welsh marshes.
There was a castell of great fame in times past that hight Camaletum, or in British Caermalet, which stood in the marshes of Summersetshire: but sith there is none that hath so written before this time, I will not saie that happilie some error hath growne by mistaking the name of Camelodunum for this Camaletum, by such as haue copied out the booke of Cornelius Tacitus; and yet so it might be doon by such as found it short or vnperfectlie written, namelie, by such strangers or others, to whom onelie the name of Camelodunum was onelie knowne, and Camaletum peraduenture neuer séene nor heard of. As for example, an Englishman that hath heard of Waterford in Ireland, and not of Wexford, might in taking foorth a copie of some writing easilie commit a fault in noting the one for the other. We find in Ptolomie Camedolon to be a cite belonging to the Trinobants, and he maketh mention also of Camelodunum, but Humfrey Lhoyd thinketh that he meaneth all one citie.
Notwithstanding Polydor Virgil is of a contrarie opinion, supposing the one to be Colchester in déed, and the other that is Camelodunum to be Doncaster or Pontfret. Leland esteeming it to be certeinelie Colchester taketh the Iceni men also to be the Northfolke men. But howsoeuer we shall take this place of Tacitus, it is euident inough that Camelodunum stood not farre from the Thames. And therefore to séeke it with Hector Boetius in Scotland, or with Polydor Virgil so far as Doncaster or Pontfret, it male be thought a plaine error.
But to leaue each man to his owne iudgement in a matter so doubtfull, we will procéed with the historie as touching the warres betwixt the Romans and the Silurians, against whome (trusting not onelie vpon their owne manhood, but also vpon the high prowesse & valiancie of Caratacus) Ostorius set forward; Caratacus excelled in fame aboue all other the princes
Cornelius Tacrtus lib. dnna. 12.
of Britaine, aduanced thereto by manie doubtfull aduentures and manie prosperous exploits, which in his time he had atchiued: but as he was in policie and aduantage of place better prouided than the Romans: so in power of souldiers he was ouermatched. And therefore he remoued the battell into the parts of that countrie where the Ordouices inhabited, which
are thought to haue dwelled in the borders of Shropshire, Cheshire, and Lancashire, which people together with other that misliked of the Romane gouernment, he ioined in one, and chose a plot of ground for his aduantage, determining there to trie the vttermost hazard of battell.
The place which he thus chose was such, as the entries, the backwaies, and the whole situation thereof made for the Britains aduantage, and cleane contrarie to the Romans, as inclosed among high hils. And if there were anie easie passage to enter it vpon anie side, the same was shut vp with mightie huge stones in manner of a rampire, and afore it there ran a riuer without anie certeine foord to passe ouer it. This place is supposed to lie in the confines of Shropshire aloft vpon the top of an high hill there, enuironed with a triple rampire and ditch of great depth, hauing thrée entries into it, not directlie one against an other, but aslope. It is also (they saie) compassed about with two riuers, to wit, on the left hand with the riuer called Clun, & on the right hand with an other called Teuid. On thrée sides thereof the clime is verie steepe and headlong, and no waie easie to come or reach vnto it, but onelie one.
Caratac hauing thus fortified himselfe within this place, and brought his armie into it: to encourage his people, he exhorted them to shew their manhood, affirming that to be the day, and that armie to be the same wherein should appeare the beginning either of libertie then to be recouered, or else of perpetuall bondage for euer to be susteined. He rehersed also speciallie by name those their elders, which had resisted Iulius Cesar, by whose high valiancie they liued free from the bloudie thraidome and tributes of the Romans, and enioied their wiues and children safe and vndefiled. Thus discoursing of manie things with them, in such hope of assured victorie, that they began to raise their cries, each one for him selfe, declaring that he was bound by the dutie he owght to the gods of his countries not to shrinke for feare of anie wounds or hurts that might chance vnto them by the enimies weapon.
This chéerefulnesse of the Britains greatlie astonished the Romane lieutenant. The hideous course also of the riuer before his face, the fortifications and craggie higth of the hils, all set full of enimies readie to beat him backe, put him in great feare: for nothing he saw afore him, but that which séemed dreadfull to those that should assaile. But the souldiers yet séemed to be verie desirous of battell, requesting him to bring them to it, protesting that nothing was able to resist the force of noble prowes. Herewith the capteins and tribunes discoursing the like, pricked forward the earnest willes which their souldiers had to fight.
Ostorius perceiuing such courage and readie wils in the men of warre, as well souldiers as capteins, began to bestirre himselfe, and left nothing vndone that might serue to set forward their earnest desire to battell. And hauing aduisedlie considered which waies were hard and vnpossible to be entered vpon, and which were most easie for his people to find passage by,
Cornelius Tacitus Annal. lib. 12.
he led them foorth, being most earnestlie bent to cope with the enimie.
Now hauing passed the water without any great difficultie but comming to the rampire, he lost manie of his people, so long as the fight was continued with shot and casting of darts: but after that the Romans couering themselues with their targets, came once close togither, and approched vnder the rampire, they remooued away the stones which the Britains had roughlie couched togither, and so came to ioine with them at handblowes. The Britains being vnarmed, and not able to abide the force of the armed men, withdrew to the top of the hilles, but as well their enimies that were light armed, as the other with heauie armour followed and brake in among them, so as the Britains could not turne them anie way to escape, for the light armed men with shot a farre off, and the heauie armed with weapons at hand, sought to make slaughter and wracke of them on ech side, so that this was a verie dolefull day to the Britains,
The wife and daughter of Caratake were taken prisoners, and his brethren also yéelded themselues. He himselfe escaped, and committing his person vnto the assurance & trust of Cartemandua queene of the Brigants, was by hir deliuered into the hands of the Romans. All this happened about nine yeres after the warres in Britaine first began.