Glasgow Archaeological Society   [Hrsg.]
The Antonine Wall report: being an account of excavations, etc., made under the direction of the Glasgow Archæological Society during 1890 - 93 — Glasgow, 1899

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THE ANTONINE WALL REPORT.

123

would thus be in such a work an unfailing series of relatively
thick horizontal layers of earth separated by thin horizontal
lines of heath. Condescending to detail, it is argued from
modern military precedent1 that sods not over 6 inches thick
originally would, by the dressing or trimming necessary to fit
them for their purpose, and by the weight of the sods built over
them, be compressed into something like half that thickness.
Moreover, it is pointed out that, although the vegetation of the
heathy lines would wither away and cease to be visible, there is
on the top of all sods a thicker or thinner strip of dark soil
formed from the decay of previous vegetation. Especially, it is
urged that in woodland of any age a mossy strip composed of
decayed leaves, branches, and the like, invariably forms the
surface, coating with a black line the soil below. At some places
this mossy line may have all the consistency of peat, and be of
considerable thickness. Hence it is argued that a structure of
sods must, so long as it stands, bear in its interior the evidences
of its origin, for the rows of aligned sod surfaces could never
cease to contrast with the soil on which they rested, and would
thus pencil the face of any section with their ineffaceable parallel
dark lines.

That the interior of the Roman Wall answers closely to the
requirements of this supposition no one who has ever seen the
sections will deny. The dark horizontal lines, in spite of
numerous breaks and forks and blendings, preserve a remarkable
general parallelism. They run across the vallum one above the
other—the lowest along the base and the highest about a foot
below the crown—in steady succession with small intervals
between. They stop at, or a very few inches beyond, the line of
the kerbs of the stone base. At places they are so thick as to
challenge comparison with the thickness of the intervening layer
of other soil. At other places, indeed at most places, they are as
often under as over half an inch in thickness. The two measure-

1 Philips' Elementary Course of Field and Permanent Fortification (2nd edition,
1874), Article 199. "Sods . . . 4i inches in thickness . . . when built up
in a revetment average only about 2^ inches in height owing to the manner in
which they are pared off as successive courses are laid, and to their becoming
compressed with the weight above them."
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