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Picts Wall

stone, turf, severus and vellum

PICTS' WALL, in antiquity, a remarkable piece of Roman Nvork, begun by the emperor Adrian. A.D. 121. on the northern bounds of England, to prevent the incursions of the I'icts and Seats.

At first it was made only of turf, strengthened with pali sadoes, till the emperor Severus, cooling in person into Britain, repaired it, as some say, with solid stone, reaching eighty miles in length, from the Irish to the German sea, through Carlisle and Newcastle ; with watch-towers gar risoned, now called castle-steeds, at the distance of a mile from each other.

It does not appear with sufficient evidence, that Severus's wall was formed of stone : Bede expressly asserts the con trary, though Spartian intimates that Severus built both a merits, i.e. a wall of stone, and a vellum, or a wall of turf. Bede relates, that Severus, after several great and difficult engagements, thought it necessary to separate that part of the island, which he had recovered, from the other nations that were unconquered ; not with a mores, as some think, but with a vellum. Now a mares," continues he, " is of stone; but a vellum, such as they made round a camp, to secure it against the attacks of the enemy, is made of turf, cut regularly out of the ground, and built high above ground, like a wall, with the ditch before it, out of which the turf has been dug ; and strong stakes of wood all along the brink."

Severus, therefore, drew a great ditch, and built a strong earthen wall, fortified with several turrets from sea to sea. The learned Camden adopts this opinion; and adds, that Severus's wall is expressed by no other word than valiant, either in Antoninus or the X'otitia.

This wall was ruined several times by the Picts, and often repaired by the Romans. At last Aetius, a Rotnam general, ordered it to be rebuilt of stone, about the year 420; but the Picts ruining it in the year following, it was thencefor ward regarded only as a boundary between the two nations. The wall was eight feet thick, and twelve high, from the ground : it ran on the north side of the rivers Tyne and Irthing, up and down several hills: the tract, or remains of it, are to be seen to this day in many places, both in Cum berland and Northumberland.

The inhabitants of the country pretend, that there was a brazen trumpet, or pipe, so artificially laid in the wall between each castle and tower, that, upon the apprehension of danger at any one place, by the sounding of it, notice might be given to the next, and then to the third, &c., whence it derived the ancient name cornaye ; and in the inside a sort of fortified little town, now called Chester, the foundations of which appear, in some places, in a square form.