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Hadrian's Wall AD 122-410 (Fortress, 2) Paperback – February 19, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr Nic Fields started his career as a biochemist before joining the Royal Marines. Having left the Navy, he went back to University and completed a BA and PhD in Ancient History at the University of Newcastle. He was Assistant Director at the British School of Archaeology, Athens, and is now a lecturer in Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh.
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Product Details

  • Series: Fortress (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (February 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841764302
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841764306
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.3 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am afraid I am going to have to disagree with the previous reviews of this book. Knowing a little about Osprey publishing and the way the set their guidlines for authors, I feel the brevity was in no way Dr. Fields fault. This conclusion was drawn particularly from the fact that Osprey required a certain word limit which was met in this 64 page volume.

That said I also have to disagree with the previous entries concerning the doctrinal importance and context of Hadrian's Wall. Indeed I feel Dr. Fields is correct in his assertion that Hadrian's wall was not a defensive point, but a staging point for operations further afield and a watch station to better react to problems before they got to the wall. As Webster in his 1998 republication of The Roman Imperial Army noted that the purpose of the wall was to "impose total control over all traffic passing in and out of the Province, with provision for the collection of fees, tolls and duties and a thorough inspection of goods and persons. Its military purpose is less clear, but it certainly could never have been used as a fighting platform, only as a patrol track. An efficient signalling system and alert surveillance by forwads units would have made it possible for command HQ to order units to move forward through the fort and milecastle gateways to any area to deal with hostile elements." This passage sums up Hadrian's Wall to 'T'. The actual garrison at any given locality on Hadrian's wall couldn't have held it for any length of time against a determined enemy. In addition to this fact it is worth noting that the emperor to succeed Hadrian, Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161), in short order moved the frontier to the lowlands of Scotland where he did in fact build earthen fortifications.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this little book a few years ago when looking for an introduction to Hadrian's Wall, on which I new precious little. There are a host of books on the subject, but I was just looking for a short summary with the essentials so I decided to go for an Osprey one, at the risk of being disappointed. I wasn't for this one is certainly one of the best in the collection. This is because Nic Fields has managed to blend together the history of the Wall and its archeology and to present both with a surprising degree of detailed information. Even his biliography illustrates this blend with a mix of books on the Roman Army, with some of the "usual suspects" that you might expect to find (such as Goldsworthy, Keppie or Webster), books of Roman fortifications and garrison life, and books most specifically targetd on the Wall itself.

This booklet exhibites the same comprehensive blend. After an introduction to Roman fortifications, you learn about the origins of the Wall, its components, its construction (and how it turned out to be somewhat different to what had originallt been envisaged), the function of the Wall, its garrison, including not only numbers but a list of all the units that have been identified and of their posting. It finally concludes with a fascinating section on the soldiers' everyday life on the Wall, including what we know about their diet (rather a lot in fact!) and their leisures, including some of the games that they played.

The illustrations - plates, pictures and maps - are also well chosen and fit very well with the text. The maps and a couple of the plates show to what extent the Wall fit into a complex and sophisticated defense system.
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Format: Paperback
Hadrian's Wall AD 122 - 410 is the second in Osprey's new Fortress series that aims to summarize the "design, technology and history of key fortresses, strategic positions and defensive systems." This new series should serve to fill in many of the gaps of traditional military history, by providing greater detail on the fortresses that have shaped warfare throughout the centuries. Having spent a day exploring Hadrian's Wall several years ago, I felt that few could fail to be impressed by this unique remnant of Roman military engineering. Unfortunately, I wish I could say that same about Osprey's Fortress #2, but I cannot. Dr. Nic Fields, a professor in Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh, knows his material but writes in the typical horrid British academic style that reduces all the essential elements of this topic to a opaque mush. Like many academics who write about ancient military history, Fields is too-often sidetracked by esoteric archaeological issues and cannot focus on the actual military aspects of his subject. Furthermore, Fields has borrowed liberally from D.J. Breeze's earlier works on Hadrian's Wall and readers would be advised to check out that author's work in preference to this volume.
Hadrian's Wall AD 122 - 410 begins with a description of the various types of Roman fortifications, the origins of the wall and a very brief chronology. The heart of the book lies in the chapters discussing the anatomy of the wall, the wall's construction, the function of the wall, it's garrison and life on the wall. The author includes three low-quality 2-D maps, all of which are inferior to those in the Visitor's Guide one can purchase on the modern site of the wall.
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