Dr. Jarrett begins by making the point that, contrary to public opinion, the primary function of tie army was not to wage war but to maintain peace. He demonstrates this by looking at the distribut...ion of the legions throughout the Empire, with particular reference to the province of Britain. He goes on to examine, first, the organisation and functions of an auxiliary fort. This part of the programme includes film of Hadrian's Wall, Chester, Housesteads, and the reconstruction of the Roman gateway and fortress at Baginton near Coventry. Dr. Jarrett then describes the legionary fortress. Examples include the magnificent site of Lambaesis in North Africa, Caerleon in Monmouthshire, and Inchtuthil in Perthshire, which was the base of the 20th Legion in the 80s. This is a particularly interesting site because it was abandoned before being completed due to a change in Imperial policy. As a result the buildings can be studied in their original form without all the changes and modifications which can cause difficulties on other sites. The chief peacetime responsibility of the army was, of course, to be prepared for war and Roman military superiority was largely due to a highly developed system of training and exercises. This is well demonstrated by the earthworks at Tomen-y-Mur in Merionethshire and at Burnswark in Dumfriesshire, where we believe that there are practice siegeworks below a native hill fort. There is an interesting comparison between Burnswark and the enormous siegeworks at Masada in Israel, where the Romans fought one of their most spectacular compaigns. In the last part of the programme Dr. Jarrett describes in detail a number of scenes from Trajan's Column, which show the army carrying out in earnest the manoeuvres and engineering works for which it had been trained in peacetime.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A291, The early Roman empire and the rise of Christianity
Item code: A291; 01
First transmission date: 20-02-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:25:00
+ Show more...
Producer: Mary Hoskins
Contributor: Michael Jarrett
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Earthworks; Forts; Roman Empire
Footage description: Opening map shows the extent of the Roman Empire at its peak. Michael Jarrett opens the programme in the studio, introducing the theme of the Roman Army's contribution to the empire by describing the military scenes carved on Trajan's column. Stills of papyri, a fort at Chester, and weapons, inscriptions and a tombstone illustrate other sources. Another map shows the frontiers of the empire and the role of the army as a peace-keeping force. A map of England and Wales shows the policy of dividing hostile territory with a network of roads and forts. Stills of Hadrian's Wall and an aerial view of Houstead's fort. Shots of Baginton fort at Coventry, recently reconstructed. Model and description of Benwell Fort on Hadrian's Wall. Details of granaries and latrines at Housteads, and bath houses at Chester, an auxiliary fort. Film clip (35") of the fortress of Lambaesis in North Africa. Jarrett compares it with a plan of Inchtuthill fort in Scotland, and the remains of Caerleon fort in Monmouthshire. Description of pattern of life in the forts. Stills of an aqueduct and inscription. Defensive earthworks are illustrated by a plan of Tounen-y-Mur in Merioneth. Shots of this fort and an amphitheatre at Caerleon. Close up of a practice camp on Trajan's Column, and stills of siege works at Burnswark,Scotland. Film clip (51") of siege works at Masada in Israel. Final sequence is another series of shots from Trojan's Column, illustrating manoeuvres and engineering works.
Master spool number: 6HT/71332
Production number: 00525_3101
Videofinder number: 2556
Available to public: yes