glasgow archaeological society.
was writing of events which happened in his own time. His
evidence is of the vaguest concerning his hero's transactions in
Britain. The legion with which Stilicho made what has been
called " the last real effort of Roman power to retain possession
of the island "1 was withdrawn2 in the year 402. It was soon
to be followed by the last of the Roman forces left in Britain.
2. Gildas, Bede and Nennius.
When we lose the assistance, if assistance it can be called, of
these later classic historians, we come in contact, for the first
time, with British native chronicle. Gildas the Wise, believed
to have flourished about the middle of the sixth century
(a.d. 516-573), deals with the story of the Roman walls in his
book on " the overthrow of Britain"—a chapter of lamenta-
tions, appropriately entitled " The Book Querulous." His
account entirely differs from that of Roman history. He gives
no precise date, but says that after the departure of the Romans
from Britain, the Britons appealed to Rome for help against the
inroads of the Picts and Scots. A legion was sent to their
assistance, which, after a victorious expedition, returned home
triumphant, leaving behind it instructions to the native Britons
to build a wall " between the two seas across the island." This
injunction the Britons followed, but as they made the work
unskilfully, rather of sods than of stone, it proved useless.
Gildas de Excidio Britanniae, cap. Hence the race of the Britons, unable
12. Mon. Hist. Brit., I., 10, with to endure the attack of Picts and Scots,
textual corrections from Mommsen's on account of their enmity and dire
1 Scarth's Roman Britain, 128. Rhys' Celtic Britain, 95, construes the verse
of Claudian to mean that the legion " once more garrisoned the Northern Wall."
2 Mon. Hist. Brit., I., xcviii.; where there is quoted Claudian's verse (de Bello
Pollentino, v. 416).
Venit et extremis legio praetenta And the legion came [to Pollentum
Britannis. in 402] which had been set as a guard
to the furthest end of Britain.
[Claudian is our only real evidence for these incidents, and it must be noted that
he does not say either that Stilicho was himself ever in Britain or that he
increased the garrison of the island by a legion. Two facts alone are certain—
(1) At some uncertain date, more probably 398 than 396, Britain ceased momen-
tarily to suffer from the Picts and Scots. (2) In 402 a legion was withdrawn.
This was not necessarily one of the legions which had originally garrisoned the
island. Birt (Claudian, p. 1.) thinks it was the second legion, but there is no
special reason for this. The Notitia mentions the sixth legion as at York (circa
a.d. 300), and the second at Richborough : whrre the twentieth was is unknown