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Romans in Scotland
This is property of Quintus Praenomen
Former Roman Soldier
January 21, 368 Common Era
As I made my way to the barracks, I felt deeply tired, and I let my mind wander. We had already been settled in northern Scotland for many years and life as a Roman soldier was becoming very repetitive and isolated. Although other legions were said to have been in high contact with the Celts, we had only met the Celts a few times, and it became apparent that although they considered the arts and music to be very important, it was obvious that they lacked in a unified army. Most Romans felt very confident if the Celts decided at any point in time to revolt, we would be able to defend ourselves easily, we were totally wrong.
One day as we were performing drills in the parade ground that surrounded our fort, the Celts came. As the Celts approached I could not help but notice how different they were. Their appearance alone was a drastic change. While all Roman soldiers wore heavy metal armor, the Celts did not have any type of body protection other than their large shields. Although the Celts had an advantage over us because of their surprise attack, I felt confident that we could still win. Our Roman legion was a very unified and disciplined army that was already preparing its defensive stance, while the Celts charged blindly without any visible leader. As the Celts approached they began to throw their spiral tipped spears at us, and they quickly removed much of our front line with their deep gouges. Their was a major flaw to these spears though, unlike our spears that were made of softer metal that immediately crushed on impact, these Celt weapons could be thrown back at them. As combat became closer, the Celts released their swords from their chains around their waists, and began their slashing. They were quickly counter-attacked by the strong thrusts of our double edged blade. Although we fought well on that fateful day, the Celts with their strong motives won this small battle against the overpowering force that had been in power across Scotland for many generations. Being a Roman I was taught never to surrender even when I was sure there was no way that we could become victorious. I was one of a few lucky Romans who escaped with their lives on this fateful day, only to become a Celt's hostage.
As we approached the Caledonian village I immediately noticed the differences between it and the Roman forts. Surrounding the village was a wall, although it was similar to the walls surrounding Roman forts, it became evident that these walls were less sturdy than the 3 meter high walls I was accustomed to. As I entered I was amazed by the differences of the buildings alone. While the buildings in Roman forts were large rectangles, these two story houses were circular. At the top of the stone structure, there was a thatched roof that I had never seen the likes of before. We were brought into one of these circular houses and left alone, if you didn't count the guard standing outside of the door. Once we were inside we began to create a plan of escape, we decided that it would be best to leave during the night. When darkness fell we crept across the village silently, on our way out I noticed a strangely shaped thatched roof building that I guessed was a souterrain. During my time in the Roman legion I had been told of these underground cellars that the Celts were said to be using to store grains and other foods. As soon as we were out of the village we began to make our way to the nearest Roman fort, in search of safety.
During this battle and short time as a hostage, I realized that although the Romans and Celts are two very different types of people, neither is always better than the other. When I first witnessed the Celts, I mistook their differences to be primitive compared to our ways, but I quickly understood that although they lacked the ground-breaking weaponry and tactics of the Romans, they fought with all their soul for what they believed in. As a Roman I fought on behalf of the empire with only a goal of expanding the empire, and pleasing our generals. The Celts on the other hand fought for the freedom of Scotland's natives against the tyrants that had taken it away from them. Although the Celts had only won one battle so far, they now understood their potential. I have, and always will be loyal to the Roman Empire, but I have come to respect my enemy the Celts, for although we have many cultural and militaristic differences, they are very powerful foe.
Article posted February 18, 2010 at 05:04 PM •
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