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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1 cm


in the description of section Croy No. 2, at a point quite out of
range of any camp. It is of sandstone, artificially rounded, about
4J inches in diameter and 14 inches in circumference. It was dug
up on the morning of the visit of the Archaeological Institute to
the wall (15th August, 1891), and it has been appealed to1 as
solving the problem of the expansions.

In the preceding section frequent mention was made of the
onager—-a type of catapult. Onager was the Latin name
of the wild ass, and the metaphoric transfer of the title
from the beast to the engine is sufficiently explained by
what Ammianus Marcellinus, writing in the fourth century,
has to say of its characteristics. " When pressed by hunters,"
says he, "the wild asses, by kicking out, hurl stones behind
them for long distances, piercing the bodies of their pursuers
or breaking their bones and splitting their heads." The " new
age," he adds, had applied the name of the animal to the engine,
because it kicked out in like fashion.2 So great was the vigour
of its kick that special architectural expedients were requisite
when it was used for mural defence. " It is placed," says3
Ammianus, " on heaped-up sods {super congestos caespites) or on
brick mounds; for a machine like this, if placed on a stone wall,
tears asunder whatever it sits upon, not by its weight, but by the
violent concussion." Ammianus is express in saying that its
projectile (lapicle rotundo) was a round stone.

The phrase of Ammianus, super congestos caespites, receives
additional point from the fact that mounds of sod for such
purposes had a place in Hyginus's outline of the design for a
camp vallum. " It is proper to remember in war time," he says,4
" to make numerous double ascents to the vallum, and to build

1 See Mr. Neilson's article in the Athenceum for 19th September, 1891.

2 Ammianus Marcellinus, xxiii. 4. " Cui etiam onagri vocabulmn indidit aetas
novella ea re quod asini feri cum venatibus agitantur ita eminus lapides post terga
calcitrando emittunt ut perforent pectora sequentium aut perfractis ossibus capita
ipsa displodant."

3 Ammianus Marcellinus, xxiii. 4. 11 Validis nexibus illigatum et locatum
super congestos caespites vel latericios aggeres. Nam muro saxeo hujusmodi moles
imposita disjeetat quidquid invenerit subter, concussione violenta non pondere.
Cum igitur ad concertationem ventum fuerit lapide rotundo fundae imposito
quaterni altrinsecus juvenes . . . inclinant," &c.

4 Hyginus, sec. 58, quoted p. 143, supra.
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