ALTHOUGH the Caledonians had been defeated, they
were not subdued, and they continued to fight so fiercely that the Romans
gave up trying to keep the forts which Agricola had built.
Later on a Roman Emperor called Hadrian came to
Britain, and he built a wail from the Tyne to the Solway. This wall ran
straight across the country from sea to sea over hills and valleys, and it
was so strong, and so well built, that although hundreds of years have
passed since then it may still be seen to this day.
But even this great wall did not keep back the
Caledonians. They broke through it or sailed round the ends of it in their
little boats made of wickerwork covered with the skins of animals. Some
years later another Roman Emperor called Antonine came to Britain. He drove
the Caledonians back again beyond Agricola's forts, and there he built a
wall which is still called by his name.
the Caledonians broke through or climbed over this wall too. The first man
who leaped over the wall was called Graham, and the ruins of that part of
the wall are called Graham's Dyke to this day. Dyke is a Scottish word for
Many years passed. The Romans called
Britain a Roman province, but the wild people of the north not only remained
unconquered but they became ever more and more bold. They over-leaped the
wall more and more often, coming farther and farther south, fighting and
plundering as they went.
At last an Emperor
called Severus, hearing of the deeds of the wild Caledonians, resolved to
conquer them. This Emperor was old and ill. He was so ill that he could not
walk, and had to be carried in a kind of bed called a litter. But he was
full of courage and determination, and gathering a great army of soldiers he
Scotland at this time was
covered in many parts with pathless forest, and even where there were roads
they were not fit for a great army, such as Severus now brought with him, to
So Sevenis as he marched his army
through Scotland cut down trees, drained marshes, made roads and built
bridges. Slowly but with fierce determination, led by a sick man who was
carried about in a bed, the Romans marched through Scotland. From south to
north they marched, yet they never fought a battle or came face to face with
The Caledonians followed their
march, dashing out upon them unawares, swooping down upon and killing those
who lagged behind or who strayed too far ahead. In this way many were
killed, many too died of cold, hunger, and weariness; still on and on, over
hill and valley, swept the mighty host, to the very north of Scotland. There
they turned and marched back again, and at last they reached the border and
crossed beyond the wall, leaving fifty thousand of their number dead in the
hills and valleys of the north.
that brave old Severus gave up the task as hopeless, and instead of trying
to fight any more, he strengthened and repaired the wall which Hadrian had
built so many years before.
And so it went on
year by year, the Caledonians always attacking, the Romans always trying to
drive them back again. At last, nearly five hundred years after they first
came to Britain, the Romans went away altogether.
When the Romans had gone, the Caledonians found the
south of Britain more easy to attack than ever. For as the Romans took away
not only their own soldiers, but the best of the British whom they had
trained to fight, there was now no one to guard the walls.
So the Caledonians threw down and destroyed the wall
between the Forth and the Clyde. They broke and ruined great parts of
Hadrian's wall too, and overran the south of Britain as far as London.
At last the Britons were in such dread and fear of the
Caledonians that they sent to their old enemies the Romans for help. But the
Romans would not help them. The Britons then sent to the Saxons, and the
Saxons came to their aid.
When the King of
the Picts heard that the Saxons had come to help the Britons, he sent to the
King of the Scots begging him to join in fighting them. So the Picts and the
Scots joined together against the Britons and the Saxons. But when the Picts
and Seats saw the great army of Britons and the strange fierce Saxon
warriors, some of them were afraid and stole away to hide themselves in the
woods near. The two kings when they heard of this were very angry. They sent
to seek these cowards, brought them back, and hanged them every one in sight
of the whole army, so that none might be tempted to follow their example.
Then Dougall the Scottish King and Galanus the Pictish
King spoke to their people and encouraged them with brave words.
When the battle began, arrows flew thick and fast, and
it seemed as if neither side would give way. But when they came near to each
other, the Picts and Scots charged so fiercely that the Britons fled before
them. Then a fearful storm arose. The sky grew black with clouds and the air
dark with rain and hail, which dashed on friend and foe alike, in the
darkness the Picts and the Scots lost their rank and order, and when the
storm passed over, the Saxons and the Britons had won the battle.
It was a sorrowful day for the Picts and the Scots.
They fled away, leaving the Britons to rejoice over the thousands of their
enemies who lay dead upon the field.
Britons had no great cause for rejoicing, for the Saxons rid south Britain
of the Picts and the Scots only to conquer it for themselves. And soon the
Britons were glad to ask the Picts and Scots to help them to drive the
Saxons out of their land. This they were never able to do, and the Saxons
took all the south of Britain and made it their own. But Scotland they could