The criticism which applies to Camulodunum [CAMULODUNUM
] has been postponed to the present notice, because the place, to which the general assent of investigators has assigned the honour of having been the first Roman colony in Britain--the Colonia κατ᾽ ἐξόχην
--is the Caer Colun
of the British, and the Camulodunum of the classical writers. Cair Colun
is a name in Nennius's list of British cities. In Beda and the earlier Anglo-Saxon authorities we have such forms as Colnaceaster, Colecestria,
&c., evidently meaning Colchester
in Essex. Lastly, in Henry of Huntingdon, we find the special statement that the British Caer Colun
and the A.-S. Colecestria
are one and the same.
The identity of Camulodunum
with the town thus named from Colonia is another question. Few writers, however, have disconnected them.
The chief grounds for the identification lie in two passages of Tacitus.
After the reduction of the Iceni (in Norfolk and Suffolk), and the Cangi (on the Irish Sea); after, too, a diversion against the Brigantes (to the north of the Humber), the fierce nation of Silures required repression. For this purpose a colony is established at Camulodunum--“Silurum gens non atrocitate, non dementia mutabatur. quin bellum exerceret, castrisque legionum premenda foret. Id quo promptius veniret,
colonia Camulodunum, valida veteranorum manu, deducitur in agros captivos, subsidium adversus rebelles, et imbuendis sociis ad officia legum. Itum inde
ad Siluras.” (Ann.
12.32, 33.) Attention is directed to the words in Italics. Reference is also made to the article CANGI
The section, too, of Tacitus preceding the one quoted should be read.
This tells us that Ostorius had already fortified the valleys of the Sabrina and the Autona--the Sabrina meaning the Severn,
whatever may have been the meaning of Autona (? Aufona).
Now, with stations already effected on the Severn, and another river, which was certainly nearer to Wales than any river of Essex, how can we reconcile the probable movements of Ostorius with either of the accredited sites of Camulodunum?
This is well known to have been either Maldon,
), each in Essex, and each in the very last place imaginable for the operations of a Silurian, a Brigantian, or a Cangian campaign, even if it be allowed to suit an Icenian.
The solution to these difficulties probably lies in the fact of Tacitus's authority being of a high value only for those parts of our island with which his father-in-law Agricola came in contact, and for that period of our early history during which that general was so important an actor. Now, the parts that he knew best lay in the west and north--in Wales and Scotland--rather than in the eastern counties.
In A.D. 61, the name of Camulodunum re-appears (Ann.
14.31); its geographical and political relations being comparatively clear. Thus, the war is against the famous Queen of the Iceni (Boadicea), and the population of the neighbourhood is that of the Trinobantes (Middlesex
At the same time, the campaign in Wales is interrupted by the Icenian revolt; a fact to which we may possibly trace the confusion in the account of Ostorius.
The actual movement from west to east directed the attention of the historian towards Wales, whilst the probable rapidity with which Paullinus (the general now under notice) effected it, abridged the distance.
Be this as it may, the Camulodunum of the Icenian campaign is a place of pleasure, rather than a military fortification--“Nullis munimentis septam--dum amoenitati prius quam usui consulitur.” This is not quite what we expect.
It contains a temple, an image of victory, a curia,
and a theatre.
Where does Tacitus place it?
He is generally said to place Camulodunum on the aestuary of the Thames: by which a slight complication, and the necessity of carrying that river as far north as the Blackwater,
is engendered. Nevertheless, though the context favours this view, it does not absolutely enforce it--“externos fremitus in curia eorum auditos; consonuisse ululatibus theatrum, visamque speciem in aestuario Tamesae
subversae coloniae.” This by no means says that the population of Camulodunum saw it.
It might have been seen in London.
The passage continues--“jam oceanum cruento aspectu; dilabente aestu, humanorum corporum effigies relictas, ut Britanni ad spem, ita veteran
ad metum trahebant.” As these veterans
were the real occupants of Camulodunum, the extract is, pro tanto,
in favour of Tacitus's having placed it on the Thames. Still, as already stated, it is not conclusive.
The chief reason, however, for giving the passage in full will appear in the sequel.
Ptolemy's Camudolanum is a town of the Trinoantes, on the Imensa aestuary, the Trinoantes being east of the Simeni, whose town is Venta.
The current explanation of this passage is, that the Simeni are the Iceni of the other authors, and Venta the Venta Icenorum (== Norwich
In a previous passage, we have, in the following order, from north to south, (1) the Metaris aestuary (== the Wash), (2) the river Gariennus
), (3) a promontory, (4) the outlets of the river Idumannia, (5) the Tamissa aestuary. Now, the Tamissa aestuary is the Imensa aestuary, and the Ei-du-mannia the Blackwater.
At least, such is the view suggested by the element du
Turning from Ptolemy to the Itineraries, we find equal elements of confusion.
In the fifth
we have Colonia;
in the ninth, Camulodunum.
Colonia is 52 miles from London, Camulodunum 51.
|From London to
||From Camulodunum to
The distance between Caesaromagus and Colonia coincides somewhat less closely.
Even the identification of Colonia with Col-
chester is shaded by a doubt.
It is difficult to believe that the river Coin
took its name from Colonia,
and it is not easy to believe that Col-
chester is other than the Camp upon the Colne.
Notwithstanding the prevalence of the contrary opinion, the present writer, after balancing the conflicting difficulties, finds the best solution in doubting the identity of Colonia
The first he believes to have been Col-
chester, the second Maldon,
name for name in each case. [R.G.L
] [p. 1.646]